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Notes: Daley gets adjusted to new team and defense partner in DeKeyser

Nothing new on Athanasiou; Kronwall does not skate on first day

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

TRAVERSE CITY - Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill wasted no time in putting new defenseman Trevor Daley with Danny DeKeyser during the first practice on the first day of training camp.

The Wings signed Daley, who is coming off back-to-back Stanley Cup wins with the Pittsburgh Penguins, to a three-year contract at $9.5 million in the offseason.

"Trevor has played lots on his off side, some of his best hockey has been on his off side so that's a real positive for us as a lefty to be able to go over there," Blashill said. "Him and Danny, I'm hoping they can develop good chemistry here. Obviously the faster, the better. They're both guys that can break the puck out, they're both guys that can skate. I think they defend well and can get up the ice well. I'm looking forward to continuing to see their development together."

Daley said after he signed, he was aware that the Wings might pair him with DeKeyser.

"I did a little bit of thinking about it and the style he likes to play," Daley said. "I think we both can complement each other. We just want to get a good feel for each other. I think that's why they got us going real early in training camp."

DeKeyser said it did not take long for him to realize that at 33, Daley remains an elite skater.

"He moves the puck really well so I think me and him together, I think we can get back in the D zone, get the puck out, get it up to the forwards, jump in the play, try to provide some offense and (be) solid in the D zone as well," DeKeyser said.

Although DeKeyser thinks defense first, Daley's ability to get the puck out of the zone might give him more of a chance to get involved offensively.

"It takes a lot of pressure off whoever he's playing with," DeKeyser said. "Right now it looks like they're going to maybe start us together so that's a good thing for me. I think it allows the weak side D to get up into the play more, too. That's something I'm going to look into."

Although Detroit is a new team to him, Daley said he and the rest of the players received some video of how the Wings plan to play.

"It's similar to the way I've played the last few years," Daley said. "I think most teams play the same way. Everybody wants to play the up-tempo, fast-paced game. It's how you do it and how good you are at it."

Although he is excited to play in the new Little Caesars Arena, Daley likes the way the Wings have training camp up in Traverse City.

"I think it's great," he said. "It's always good to get away, especially when you are a new guy. Some training camps you're stuck at home and you just go home and do your everyday stuff and you don't really get to meet the guys and get to know then until you get playing on the road. So this gives you an opportunity to get to know the guys a little quicker, a little faster, before we get going."

Before Daley got going with the Wings, he had his second chance to spend the day with the Stanley Cup and made the day a meaningful one, especially for him and his family.

"It was awesome," Daley said. "I got it in Toronto and me and my son went to a hockey school and surprised some kids. And then I took it to my mom's grave and it was just me and my son. We sat there and we enjoyed it. I told him a little bit about my childhood and where I grew up, because right across the street from where I grew up is where I buried my mom. That was pretty special. Then we had a little party with it after to kind of balance the day out pretty good."

Daley's mother, Trudy, passed away from cancer at the age of 51 in 2016.

Daley's son, Trevor Jr., is eight and his daughter Emery is five.

DEKEYSER STRIVES TO IMPROVE: In addition to being disappointed with the team's failure to make the playoffs last year, DeKeyser also believed he could have done better personally.

"I think I just got to be better defensively in the D zone," DeKeyser said. "Plus-minus last year, I wasn't happy about that. I just think overall my game can be better this year. I can provide more."

DeKeyser had never been a minus player in the NHL until last season's minus-22.

DeKeyser, 27, has always struggled to keep enough weight on his 6-foot-3 frame. This past summer he continued to work on it.

"I put on a few pounds but I think the biggest thing was I got a lot stronger," DeKeyser said. "I feel stronger, my legs feel good and like I said, with getting on the ice earlier, that helped my skating a little bit, too. Coming into camp, I don't really have to catch up on anything. I'm just ready to go, I guess."

DeKeyser said he did more lower body and core work over the summer.

NOTHING NEW ON ATHANASIOU: Andreas Athanasiou, a restricted free agent who does not yet have a new contract, is not in camp and team officials said Friday there was nothing new on that front.

Athanasiou's teammates hope the 18-goal scorer can get a deal done with the Wings.

"He's a good player, we need him," captain Henrik Zetterberg said Thursday. "Every player probably goes through this (contract squabble) during their career and it's the business side of it. There's been players who miss camp and they're back for exhibition games."

Toward the end of last season, Athanasiou appeared to develop some good chemistry with Dylan Larkin as his center. "We have talked," Larkin said.

"We have obviously a lot of chemistry. I think everyone in this organization wants him to be on our team. He's one of our best players. He helps us a ton. It's just figuring it all out. I haven't talked to him in terms of that but I know everyone here wants him to be a Red Wing and that's where he should be."

KRONWALL SITS OUT: Defenseman Niklas Kronwall's knee problems have been well-documented.

Kronwall, 36, did not practice with Team Delvecchio Friday.

"Camp's important without question, and camp's going to be important for Kronner, but our end goal with Kronner is making sure he's ready game one against Minnesota," Blashill said. "That might mean keeping him off the ice at different times throughout the exhibition season here. Once we get going, our plan is to take it day by day. The way we finished last year, day by day meant he kept skating every day and he felt better when he skated every day. But I can't guarantee that's what's going to happen again. He has told me he feels way better than he did a year ago. I think that's a positive for all of us."

Kronwall was limited last season and did not always play in back-to-back games but that doesn't mean he won't this coming season.

"We'll take each situation as they come, but I'd certainly wouldn't rule anything like that out," Blashill said. "I think he could play a lot of games for us and be a real good player for us."

Blashill said they haven't decided yet if Kronwall will be on the ice Saturday.

Main photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings.

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