DALLAS – It’s been eight weeks since Jakub Kindl was in the Red Wings’ lineup.
The veteran defenseman will make his return tonight when the Dallas Stars host the Red Wings at American Airlines Center.
Kindl replaces Kyle Quincey, who has an undisclosed lower-body injury, which coach Mike Babcock described on Friday as being “chronic” in nature.
Kindl has missed the last 20 games, resulting from an elbow injury sustained in practice on Dec. 28 in Boston. But once cleared by team doctors there wasn’t a spot in the lineup, at which time the Wings assigned the 28-year-old to a conditioning load to AHL Grand Rapids.
“I felt great,” said Kindl of his stint with the Griffins this week. “I only played two games and the first game – I hadn’t played in two months – so it took me a little bit to get it going. I tried to play it very simple, short shifts and it worked out that we won.”
The second game was more of an endurance test, Kindl said.
“The second game my D-partner (Brennan Evans) got hurt right off the bat and then we kept rotating five D for the rest of the game,” Kindl said. “That was a good workout, I won’t even lie, but I feel great.”
By all reports, Babcock said that Kindl was a first-star candidate in both games for the Griffins.
“He was outstanding, the best player,” Babcock said. “Real good for him. He went down like a pro. To be honest with you, it would have been good for him to play two more but he got his opportunity and he was good.”
The original plan called for Kindl to play four AHL games and rejoin the Red Wings in Anaheim on Sunday. But the chronic issues bothering Quincey expedited Kindl’s return.
Kindl has two goals and nine points in 28 games this season. He will be partnered with Quincey’s regular D-partner, Danny DeKeyser, someone he’s been partnered with in the past.
“The last time we played together was in training camp and then before it was two years ago when we were together in the playoffs,” Kindl said. “I’m sure it will help me, he’s a great player, so I’m going to try to help him as much as I can too.”
Unsure of how long Quincey will be sidelined, Kindl said he know that he must play a simple, mistake-free game to remain in the lineup.
“I’m just going to go out there and have fun and do what I gotta do,” he said. “It all comes with the confidence too. The team’s been playing really good so I’m sure they’ll be behind too. Obviously I haven’t played for the Red Wings in a while. I’m a veteran, I’ve been in the league for quite a bit right now, so I know what I gotta do to get ready and play my best.”
JURCO’S WOES: Tomas Jurco
Right Wing - DET
Goals: 2 | Assists: 11 | Pts: 13
Shots: 70 | +/-: 6
returns to the lineup tonight after sitting out Wednesday’s 3-2 shootout win at Chicago. The Red Wings’ forward has had a tumultuous season with two goals and 11 assists in 44 games. He has gone the past 25 games without a goal, which has definitely caused moments of frustration.
“I’m 22 and playing in the NHL so there’s no reason to be upset about my life or anything,” he said. “It’s not going well but I’m trying to stay positive.”
Center Luke Glendening knows how Jurco must feel this season. The former University of Michigan standout suffered through a horrible scoring drought at the start to his NHL career. He went 54 games before collecting his first goal last season.
“I kind of took a lot of heat for it last year. Not necessarily from guys on the team, but everyone was wondering ‘When are you going to produce?’” Glendening said. “I know that can be frustrating. I just try to encourage him to have fun and to shoot the puck. His high-end skill level is apparent, so just shoot the puck and do everything you can.”
Jurco did provide some offense last year, but Babcock would prefer that the young sniper not press too much right now.
“The big thing is he doesn’t even need to worry about it, he’s got to play real well with it and forecheck and work and then everything else will happen,” Babcock said. “That to me is the biggest priority. His competitiveness, his work ethic, his forecheck, his ability to play without it. All those things will lead to offense. Let’s look after that part first.”