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Meech on conditioning stint in Grand Rapids

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT -- The Red Wings reached the season’s midway on Wednesday, but defenseman Derek Meech has played in fewer than a quarter of those contests.


As a means to getting the 23-year-old defenseman more ice-time, the Red Wings on Thursday assigned him to the Grand Rapids Griffins for a two-week conditioning stint. Meech was a healthy scratch in the Wings' 4-1 win over Dallas on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.

 “My agent mentioned it to me that it could be a possibility in the future,” said Meech, who averaged nine-minutes of ice-time. “To me, it seems like a pretty good idea. I haven’t been in a lot of games this year and it’s a good way to get down and get my feel back, get my timing back.”

Meech, who recorded six shots during nine games this season, made his NHL debut last season, playing in four games with Detroit, recording a plus-one rating and two penalty minutes.

Wings coach Mike Babcock said he expects Meech to return to Detroit in time for the Wings’ home game against Vancouver on Jan. 17.

“They play quite a few games in a row, I think six, before he’ll come back here on the 17th. We think he’s a real good player … it’s just growing pains for him,” Babcock said. “The toughest part is when you get in to play is that you tend to be careful. You don’t want to make a mistake and you can talk to them all you want but they have to overcome that themselves.”

Last season in Grand Rapids, Meech earned a spot on the Canadian AHL All-Star team and tied for first among Griffins’ defensemen with a career-high 29 points in 67 games.

Meech is expected to play this weekend for the Griffins, who travel to Hamilton on Friday and Syracuse on Saturday.

For Meech, returning to Grand Rapids for the first time this season, has him ready to prepare himself for what the Red Wings hope will be a long run through the playoffs this spring.

“I’ve only been in nine games this year,” Meech said. “You get out there and the more you play the more things just come to you, but if you’re playing every second shift, or every other shift, the way I was playing, you have to be focused on every other shift coming up. … I just had to deal with it.

“I think (going down) will benefit me.”

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