TROY, Mich. – Kyle Quincey likens the lockout-shortened NHL campaign to being told he’s been traded in midseason.
“We’re all in the same spot,” the Red Wings’ defenseman said. “Coming in from a trade it’s kind of everything is so crazy. It’ll be good for a fresh start.”
The 27-year-old Quincey knows a thing or two about trades. He’s bounced around to three different teams – and back again to the Wings – in seven NHL seasons. The Wings’ fourth-round draft pick in 2003, also hooked up with another team during the lockout. But this time, playing for the Denver Cuttroats of the Central Hockey League was for the purpose of staying in shape and being ready for when NHL players were ordered back to work.
Quincey, who has an off-season home in Colorado, said he joined the Denver club as a favor to some friends within the organization. He also skated occasionally with a few Avalanche players, who stayed in the Denver area during the work stoppage.
“My really good buddy, Derek Armstrong, is the coach there and it was an expansion team and I was really good friends with the assistant coach (Brent Cullaton) and knew a lot of guys on the team,” said Quincey, who produced two goals and 11 points in 12 CHL games. “At that time I wasn’t really doing much so I figured I’d give it a whirl, help them out and stay in shape.”
But now, if some published reports are accurate, the abbreviated 48-game season will be crammed into a 103 days with the regular-season finale set for April 27, and the Stanley Cup playoffs beginning on May 1.
Clearly, the majority of NHL players haven’t played so many games in such a short period. But Quincey said that isn’t his focus heading into next week’s training camp.
“I’ve never been through it,” he said. “Our job is to just stay in shape and be ready to go when they give us the nod. We’ve been doing this 4-5 months going back to almost June.”
However, the extended wait has given the Kitchener, Ontario, native a new founds respect for the game.
“Playing in the Central League and waiting you really figure out how much you love this game,” Quincey said. “I’m eager to go. I’m fired up. I can’t wait.”
Heading into next week’s mini-training camp in metro Detroit, two things are known: The Wings’ lineup is stacked with talent up front, and depth at those forward positions in Grand Rapids, should they need it. But not as deep on the back end where they have lost three top-four defensemen over the last two years with the retirements of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski, as well as the departure of Brad Stuart, who signed with San Jose in the off-season.
Coach Mike Babcock has made it known that the defense pairs will feature Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson, Quincey-Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl-Ian White.
The status of defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo is uncertain as he is recovering from a sprained shoulder. However, he could be in Troy as early as Friday, posting on his Twitter account Thursday that he was headed to Detroit.
“It’s going to be a fire drill for sure,” Quincey said. “Bab’s will do a good job with us getting us ready. We didn’t have a coach for so long. … It’ll be good to finally get a structure.”
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