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Notes: Biega may make Detroit debut against former team

Nielsen, Daley and Ericsson all practice; Good news for Devellano

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

VANCOUVER -- It was just a little over a week ago that Detroit Red Wings defenseman Alex Biega was a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

After the Wings' 4-3 home-opening victory over the Dallas Stars Oct. 6, the team announced they had traded forward David Pope to the Canucks for Biega.

On Monday, the Wings practiced at Vancouver's Rogers Arena in advance of their game Tuesday night against the Canucks.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Practice day in VAN. 🇨🇦Who do you want to see?!

Biega had quite a few former teammates and Canucks staffers waiting to greet him after their own practice.

"It was awesome," Biega said. "I was tight with all those guys on that team. It's like bittersweet, it's part of the business, and part of the day to day in the NHL. You play in the best league in the world and I try to hopefully get a good opportunity here, playing on the third pairing and try to prove I'm a consistent defenseman in the NHL.

"It's tough saying bye to those guys, they're all lifelong friends, definitely keep in touch throughout the years. It definitely means a lot. I spent my whole career with this organization, seven years or so. It's bittersweet no matter how you look at it."

During practice, Biega was paired with Vancouver native Dennis Cholowski and could make his Detroit debut against his former team.

"Last two weeks have been pretty crazy but it's good to get another opportunity with these guys, and it's good to be back in Vancouver as well," Biega said. "It's going to be a weird one tomorrow night, obviously. First game in new organization going against guys I played with for five years, but it's going to be a lot of fun."

At 31 and with 179 NHL games under his belt, Biega has learned a few things he can pass along to Cholowski and some of the younger defensemen.

"I'm hoping when he plays, if he's paired with a young D like Dennis, that he can be a mentor-type player who'd come back to the bench and can talk," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "Alex has been around for a long time and he's seen different situations. He's had to work very hard for everything that he's got.

"What's impressed me with Alex from afar is that when he was a young player in the American Hockey League, he didn't manage his game great. And over time he's really learned how to manage his game. I watched him on tape prior to the trade. The one thing I would say is he knew when to try and make a play and when to rim it hard and when to put the puck into a safe area. And that's the thing that most young defensemen struggle with. He's had to learn it, so he can certainly pass that lesson on."

Biega said in the brief time he's been with the Wings, he's already seen Cholowski's willingness to communicate.

"I think we're good skaters, and he talks a lot, too, I noticed that in practice," Biega said. "So I think for the most part, going back for pucks, especially against a team like Vancouver, they're fast, like to stall pucks on the forecheck. Just going back quickly and being an option for each other and breaking the puck out together, that can definitely help us, our skating for sure."

For Biega, the challenge this past week was learning to play Detroit's system.

"It's a little bit different than how we play in Vancouver," Biega said. "That was probably the biggest hurdle I would say, just watching up top and evaluating the systems and how to play, with their style. But for the most part, you just go out here, and it's the same game of hockey. Go out there, have fun, compete hard. They have a good, young team here, a fast team, very similar to the Canucks. I'm just real excited to be a part of a new opportunity and be part of the organization."

INJURY UPDATES: It seemed to be a step forward for the injured Wings players.

Frans Nielsen (upper body) skated on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Adam Erne.

Nielsen said he feels good but is not completely certain he is in the lineup Tuesday. Blashill said Nielsen's status would be decided Tuesday.

Defensemen Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley both practiced as well.

"Just a hip flexor. It wasn't anything bad or anything that I'm concerned about," said Daley, who has not played since the home opener. "All the stuff I was concerned about are good. It was just a little tweak."

Daley said he did not expect to be in Tuesday's lineup but feels healthy enough to play.

"I'm ready to go," Daley said. "Whenever they let me know, I can go back in."

SVECHNIKOV REMAINS ON TRIP: Although he has not played for the Wings in the regular season, forward Evgeny Svechnikov remains on the western Canada trip.

But that could change very soon.

"Again for me it was, one, it was a little bit of make sure we give him a nod so that he understands that he's headed in the right direction," Blashill said. "Two, I just think Steve (Yzerman) thinks, Ryan Martin thinks, Ben Simon thinks that mentally, he's at a spot where he can handle being up and not playing and getting sent back down. I'm not sure that's the case with all the other young players. He's mentally prepared for it.

"It gets him up here, it gets a chance for us to see him, it gets a chance to feel confident being up here. Whether he plays or doesn't play, I still think it can be a positive thing, depending on how he looks at it. But we aren't going to have him here for a long time if he's not playing. We're gonna get him back to GR and playing."

If Svechnikov does return to Grand Rapids, the Wings still have Christoffer Ehn, who practiced with the team Monday but did not take line rushes.

GOOD NEWS FOR JIMMY D: The Wings announced that senior vice president Jim Devellano had undergone successful surgery Monday to remove a non-cancerous brain tumor.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Thanks to all for the well wishes we���ve received for Red Wings senior VP Jim Devellano over the past few days.Happy to update you that Jimmy D underwent successful surgery today to remove the benign brain tumor. He is resting comfortably & is expected to have a full recovery.

Dr. Vittorio Morreale performed the procedure.

The team said Devellano, 76, is resting comfortably in his hospital room and is expected to make a full and speedy recovery.

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