|Niklas Kronwall was back on the JLA ice Thursday during an informal skate among Red Wings and other NHL players. (Photo by Bill Roose) |
– Entering the final year of his contract, defenseman Niklas Kronwall
doesn’t expect negotiations with the Red Wings to be anymore challenging than making a hole-in-one at one of the world’s premier golf courses.
Kronwall is one of four Wings' defensemen in their last contract year with the Wings, but at 30-years-old, he is in his prime and coming off one of his most productive seasons of his seven-season career.
“I think everybody knows that I like it here. I like it a lot,” said Kronwall, following Thursday’s informal practice at Joe Louis Arena. “I want to stay, and hopefully they want me to stay as well.”
Kronwall was one of a handful of Wings’ players who skated in the fourth day of informal practices, led by veterans Nicklas Lidstrom
and Tomas Holmstrom
, as the players begin to prepare for training camp, which begins Sept. 17 in Traverse City.
Wings coaches and management think very highly of Kronwall, and they appreciate the tenacity and aggressiveness that he brings to the lineup each and every game. With Brian Rafalski (knee) and Brad Stuart
(jaw) missing significant playing time with injuries last season, Kronwall was counted upon to play a far greater role, especially on special teams. Because of that value, Kronwall’s stock continues to rise, which understandably gives Kronwall a good feeling about negotiating with general manager Ken Holland.
Whenever they feel it’s the right time to start negotiating, I think we’ll be ready for it,” Kronwall said. “I’m not going to think too much about it, that’s why we have agents doing that work for us.”
For Kronwall, contract talks shouldn’t be as difficult as making his first hole-in-one at Turnberry in Scotland this summer.
“It was kind of surreal,” said Kronwall his 206-yard drive off the 15th tee. “We had caddies there and he kind of just gave me a club on every hole. I wasn’t real sure about the club, but he said, ‘Hit this one.’ I was able to make a good shot and actually I thought it was long at first because I hit it pretty well. They other guys said that they thought it went in. They heard it hit the pin and saw it go in the hole. Unfortunately, I missed that experience. I thought it was long, so I didn’t want to believe it until I went up there and saw the ball in the hole.”
Kronwall’s milestone shot, with a 6-iron, was his first, and came during an eight-day golf trip through Scotland and Ireland with Kris Draper, Chris Osgood and Jimmy Howard
“That was probably the first and last,” said Kronwall, of his hole-in-one. “I’m not a huge golf fan by any means. I love the game. I love going out and just hitting some balls with a round or two. But this was very intense, obviously. We had some real good golfers on the trip, and by the end of the week I was just as thrilled as anyone. The atmosphere and everything around it, was just a great experience.”
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