DETROIT – It’s been a very long time coming, but Stephen Weiss, who signed a five-year contract with the Red Wings two summers ago, will finally be healthy when he suits up against the Ottawa Senators tonight at Joe Louis Arena.
“We played one game up here this year so I’m really looking forward to it,” Weiss said. “It’s been a while, a lot of practicing in between.”
Since the end of the 2011-12 season, Weiss has played in just 44 games, which is about one quarter of his teams' games. He was with the Florida Panthers before coming to Detroit in July 2013.
Since the lockout season, Weiss has undergone surgeries on a wrist and a groin to repair a sports hernia. A second surgery on the groin was necessary to remove painful scar tissue that developed after the initial operation.
A four-time 20-goal scorer in the league, Weiss’s successful two-game rehabilitation stint over the weekend with AHL Grand Rapids was beneficial. It also showed great signs in his recovery, especially since he had an assignment with the Griffins cut short when he experienced groin pain last month
This time, the veteran center was pain-free, and even scored a goal in each of the games in a home-and-home series with Lake Erie.
“It was good, it was nice to play some minutes and get through the games (with) no problem,” Weiss said. “I would have liked to get a little bit more accomplished but it was nice to score a couple too and get that feeling back. It’s been a while since I’ve scored a goal. I enjoyed my time there and looking forward to tonight.
“It was nice and it was a lot of travel too. It was eight hours driving before the first game and a long trip back so to be able to go through that kind of travel and hold up under those circumstances was really encouraging.”
The plan tonight is for Weiss to skate on the Wings’ third line with center Darren Helm and forward Tomas Jurco. Weiss is replacing Daniel Cleary, who has a goal and two points in six games this season.
“It’s a good opportunity for him. He’s going to have to grab a hold of it, obviously,” coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s had a good NHL career. It’s been sidetracked for two years. Played in Grand Rapids, got hurt the first time, played again the second time. Now it’s up to him. We’re in the business of winning games and everyone’s got to command their share of the ice and get their share of the ice time. He’s going to start on a line with Jurco and Helm and we’ll see what happens.”
Weiss played one game this season, entering the lineup Oct. 18 as a late replacement for Johan Franzen, who suffered an injury the night before. In that game, Weiss played left wing on Helm’s line, like he will tonight.
“I played center the last two games (for the Griffins) and I got wing tonight so I’ll have to be on my toes,” Weiss said. “I’ve played a few games here but no, I’ve been a center all my life. It’s just different. I don’t know how to really explain it. You’ve just got to be more aware in the D zone, a little bit different coverages and I’m just used to playing center and being able to move the puck both ways. On the wing, your more so limited to one side of the ice so it’ll be fine.”
Babcock was asked Monday about his decision to play Weiss on the wing instead of up the middle, a position he’s played exclusively for 13 seasons.
“I got no other options for him, so the way I’d look at it is I’ve never played wing before but I’m excited to play,” Babcock said. “How would that be? That’s how I would have finished that sentence.”
KINDL RETURNS: Jakub Kindl
Defense - DET
Goals: 2 | Assists: 2 | Pts: 4
Shots: 22 | +/-: 2
is back in the lineup tonight against the Senators. The 27-eayr-old defenseman, who was a healthy scratch for the past four games, replaces Brian Lashoff
, and will be paired with rookie Xavier Ouellet
Babcock said Kindl needs to play hard and mistake-free if he expects to stay in the lineup long-term.
“Go back in the lineup, get pucks, make plays. Compete,” Babcock said. “That’s all part of being a good teammate, being competitive, being ultra-competitive, being good to help your team win. Same answer … as a coach it’s real simple. Sometimes people think whether you like a guy gets in the way – you don’t confuse the player and the person one bit. You’re in the winning business, you’re about putting players in the best situation to have success and whoever can help you win that’s who you play.”
DATSYUK DOUBTFUL: Pavel Datsyuk
Center - DET
Goals: 5 | Assists: 6 | Pts: 11
Shots: 25 | +/-: -1
will miss Monday’s game against the Senators with a lingering groin injury that has forced him to miss five of the past seven games.
Datsyuk participated in the Monday’s morning skate at Joe Louis Arena, but did not take part in any of the line rushes.
“I feel much better,” Datsyuk said. “But I think I need more full practices with team to make sure it feels good and it does not come back every second game.”
Datsyuk sat out two games before he came back a week ago Friday against Chicago. But the pain returned during the next game against Montreal.
Datsyuk remains day to day, though he didn’t sound very confident for this week’s games against Philadelphia on Wednesday or at New Jersey on Friday.
“Hard to say, but I just hoping to be back in the lineup to help team,” Datsyuk said. “It’s hard for me because it’s the first time with these symptoms. After two games, I think I’m fine and I come back and it just comes right back. Now I am more careful and want to be more ready, more energy, more exciting. But I’m happy to see you guys a lot.”
NOT SO FAST: Last week, Internet reports claimed Daniel Alfredsson has chosen to retire instead of trying to overcome lower-back pain that has plagued him for months.
But Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg says everyone should tap the brakes over those unconfirmed reports.
“So far it’s just rumors,” he said. “I know he’s trying to get his back better, doing his rehab part, skating a little bit. I won’t say that its over until it’s over.”
Even though back pain limited him to 68 games last season – his only campaign in Detroit – Alfredsson led the team in scoring with 18 goals and 49 points.
Zetterberg remains in contact with Alfredsson, and believes the six-time All Star has something left in the tank.
“Absolutely, just the way he played last year, his presence here in the locker room and on the ice, on the power play,” Zetterberg said. “He’s one of the best players and one of the best leaders that we’ve had, and we all hope that he has one more run in him.”
|Pat Quinn |
QUINN, TIKHONOV DIE: Following Monday’s morning skate, Babcock spoke eloquently about legendary coaches Pat Quinn and Viktor Tikhonov. Both men died after long illnesses.
“Pat Quinn when I was Olympic coach in 2010 was great assistance to me, great man, unbelievable presence,” Babcock said. “Intelligent, intelligent guy, great at handling the media in Toronto, maybe the last guy who was able to do that. Spent his whole life in the game.
“Pav and I were talking about Tikhonov this morning. You want to talk about a guy who had an impact on hockey, smart, smart guy, great coach, coached great teams. It’s always sad. We’re all leaving the same way but it’s always sad.”
Quinn, 71, coached for five NHL teams from 1979 to 2010, reaching the Stanley Cup Final twice and becoming one of four men to win the Jack Adams Trophy as the league’s best coach with at least two different clubs. He died Monday.
Internationally, Quinn led Canada to the most important and celebrated 2002 Salt Lake City gold medal, which ended a 50-year drought for the hockey nation.
“On his staff was Wayne Fleming and Tom Renney, so when I would go into Edmonton those guys, that’s what they did, they all did that,” Babcock said. “So we spent a lot of time talking and gathering information. The thing about our business is if you’re scared to ask questions people aren’t scared to help you out.”
The 84-year-old Tikhonov, who died Sunday. coached the famed Soviet Union powerhouses that won three Olympic gold medals and eight World Championships. He also coached the Soviet team that was upset by the Americans at Lake Placid in 1980.
“Very famous coach. A legend big time,” Datsyuk said. “Everybody know him. I was mad when I hear the news that he died. He did lots for Russians. All players appreciate him.”