– With defenseman Andreas Lilja set to return to the Red Wings’ roster as soon as Saturday, the team was forced to clear more than $1 million under the salary cap.
The first victim was veteran enforcer Brad May, who was placed on waivers Friday. He has until noon Saturday to clear before he is expected to report to the Wings’ AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.
Activating Lilja from injured reserve after a conditioning stint with the Griffins means that a decrease of $1.2 million was required to meet the league's salary-cap requirements. May’s $500,000 salary is not enough to reach that quota. However, the Wings weren’t expected to make any more moves before Friday’s 3 p.m. EST moratorium on trades during the Winter Olympic break.
May was at Joe Louis Arena for Friday afternoon's practice, but did not skate with the team. He was not made available to the media.
“He did a real good job for us, a real good teammate, a real good competitor, a good man,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “But the reality is we’re still in a business, and the dollars didn’t add up. It just didn’t work, so decisions had to be made.”
May, 38, signed a free agent contract on Oct. 7 with the Wings, his seventh NHL team in an pro career than spans 18 seasons. He filled a physical role that was created with the departure of tough guy Aaron Downey.
May was a fourth line player for the Wings, playing in 40 games and making his physical presence known on the ice. He collected 66 penalty minutes on the strength of 10 fighting majors.
Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom
, who spoke briefly to May before he departed the locker room, said May was understandably upset with the decision.
“He was down,” Lidstrom said. “It’s understandable too that he wasn’t feeling all that great, but that’s part of hockey.”
Veteran winger Kirk Maltby has known May for years with a relationship that spans back to their days as OHL opponents in the late 80s.
“You know, it’s his first year, but I played against him in juniors so I know all about him, and how he is. … He’s a great guy,” Maltby said. “You always feel for them, whether it’s a veteran older guy or a young guy, because obviously everyone wants to be here. But it is what it is.”