DETROIT – The Red Wings made their final roster moves Friday afternoon before heading to St. Louis where they will begin the 2013 season against the Blues at Scottrade Center on Saturday night.
Coach Mike Babcock said that defenseman Brian Lashoff has been returned to the club’s AHL-affiliate in Grand Rapids, and 40-year-old veteran forward Mike Knuble has agreed to a 25-day professional tryout (PTO).
“It’s a PTO, it gives me the flexibility to decide what I’m going to do versus signing a two-way contract, where you’re stuck with one team,” Knuble said. “It gives you a better chance to be open to everybody.”
With the compressed NHL schedule, teams certainly will suffer injuries along the way, and that’s where an experienced player like Knuble may greatly be a benefit.
“It’s going to be a crazy year,” Knuble said. “Guys are going to be dropping. They’re going to find young guys can’t handle the grind, they’re not ready. You stay with it, two weeks in, you should see how this whole year is going to shape out. Teams are in trouble already.”
Knuble will head to the Wings’ minor-league team in Grand Rapids, where he’ll continue to prepare physically should Detroit, or another NHL club need his services.
At 6-foot-3 and 230-pounds, Knuble is still agile enough and he could still wind up in the NHL this season. The former Red Wing – the last member from the 1997 Stanley Cup squad still playing pro hockey – has logged 1,040 NHL games spanning 15 seasons with five different clubs.
But he was realistic about his chances of starting with the Wings this week, especially without an exhibition season to properly audition for the coaching staff.
“I didn’t think I had any crazy illusions of something happening here this week,” Knuble said. “It is what it is. It gives me the chance to play and get back in the frame of playing again. And you get your name out there that you’re active.”
If things don’t go as he hopes, Friday could very well have been Knuble’s final skate at Joe Louis Arena. At one point during the practice, Knuble took a look toward the rafters where 11 Stanley Cup banners hang from the ceiling.
Asked if he was soaking in the moment, Knuble chuckled and said, “I like to be dramatic like that, but I wasn’t. I was probably just staring off into space for some reason.”
“You know I’ve played here a lot,” said Knuble, who played 41 NHL games at JLA. “I think the first time I player here in this building I might have been 12-years-old playing in front of these empty seats in the Little Caesars Hockey League, so I played a lot of hockey through the course of the years in this building. It has a distinct feel when you walk in, a distinct smell, something that I’ll always remember.”
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