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Notes: Red Wings move on from emotional day

Bertuzzi's ice time to increase with Tatar now a Golden Knight

by Arthur J. Regner @arthurjregner /

DETROIT -- On Tuesday, the Red Wings held an optional practice at the BELFOR Training Center.

Most Wings regulars elected to stay off the ice, except for injured defenseman Mike Green, forward Tyler Bertuzzi and goalies Jimmy Howard and Jared Coreau. The rest of the players participating were skaters who have been in and out of Detroit's lineup; David Booth, Martin Frk, Luke Witkowski and Xavier Ouellet.

While it was a small turnout, you could sense a bit of sadness tinged with disappointment since this was the team's first time together since popular teammate Tomas Tatar was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights for three draft picks on Monday.

"First and foremost, he's a good friend of ours," alternate captain Niklas Kronwall said. "He's been here for a long time. You get that kind of bond between guys. Definitely, his presence, we'll miss it for sure.

"Luckily we've been in a good situation where we've mostly gotten pieces (at the trade deadline). Very few times have we had to say goodbye to people. Tats and Petr (Mrazek) two weeks ago, those are guys that have been here for a long time. Of course you're going miss them. Definitely going to miss Tats' laughter and just the way he is, a guy that everyone enjoyed being around."

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told reporters on Monday's conference call after the Tatar trade was made that it's always difficult to move a player like Tatar, a career member of the Wings who had given everything to the organization, but the fact is, the Red Wings' play dictated a move had to be made.

Kronwall agrees with Holland that if the Wings had been better, Tatar would still be in Detroit. When a player like Tatar is moved, the team feels responsible.

"There's no doubt about that," Kronwall said. "That's a message to everyone. Had we played up to our potential, he'd still be here and we'd be in a completely different mode. We'd be buyers instead. The past is not something that we can do something about right now.

"All we can do is change the future. That's something we can do something about, make sure that we come in ready to play every night and give ourselves the best chance we can to make the playoffs."

When Tatar was informed of the deal, he received a call from Holland and Wings coach Jeff Blashill. As somber as the players were, Blashill was also somewhat melancholy because he has a long history with Tatar.

"Tats is one of my favorite guys I've coached. He's an awesome, awesome person, comes in with a smile on his face," Blashill said. "I thought he's passionate, he wanted to win. Always accountable. Honestly, one of my favorites I've coached and certainly a popular guy in the room, so there's a loss there.

"Obviously, a loss as a player. But I've said this lots, we're going to have 20 guys good enough to win tomorrow night (Wednesday in St. Louis) and that's going to be our focus."

Tatar was instrumental in Grand Rapids, winning its first Calder Cup championship in 2013 when Blashill was the Griffins coach. He was named the playoffs MVP. It was important to Blashill to be there when Tatar heard the news.

"Tomas loved being a Red Wing and it was hard for him to hear that because he really loved being a Red Wing. It's hard to let somebody go that loved being part of your organization," Blashill said. "That has always been one of the key components for me going back to when I was a recruiter is that you wanted people that wanted to be there and he's certainty one of those guys.

"I asked Tomas how he was doing and said he was 'surprised,' but he understands it's part of the business. The sun is usually shining in Tomas' world, he'll get adjusted just fine. The biggest thing I wanted to do is just personally thank him for everything he's done for me.

"He's gone to work, he's gone to battle, he's gone to war for me time and time again for a number of years, so I just wanted to make sure he felt that sincere thank you from me."

BERTUZZI GETS INCREASED ROLE: With Tatar applying his trade in Sin City for the Golden Knights, Tyler Bertuzzi will take his place on the line with Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou.

"Tyler Bertuzzi will increase his minutes by a lot," Blashill said. "When Tyler first came up and there were injuries, I thought he played very very well. I thought he slipped a little bit, opened the door for some guys to take his spot and then didn't get much of an opportunity.

"I think all Tyler needs is opportunity and he's going to get that. He's going to get tons of opportunity. So, he'd be the one whose minutes are going to increase the most."

In the 28 games he's played this season, Bertuzzi has notched two goals and nine assists. He is minus-6, has 23 penalty minutes and is averaging 13:06 of ice time.

Bertuzzi will also remain on the Wings power play according to Blashill, but with Tatar gone, a spot does open up on Detroit's wildly inconsistent power play.

"We'll work that out," Blashill said about Tatar's replacement. "Certainly, (Martin) Frk and (Frans) Nielsen would be two guys that are viable options to go back on the power play, they both spent time on it this year.

"Nielsen did it lots last year, so, those are two guys, they offer totally different skill sets. Nielsen has big-time poise under pressure, doesn't have unforced errors, doesn't give the puck away, helps you get into the zone, helps you keep it simple and push pucks to the net. Frky has the big shot. We'll make that decision tomorrow."

FRK SET TO RETURN TO THE LINEUP: It has been a rocky road for the rookie forward. Frk has been a healthy scratch in four consecutive games and has only seen action in one of Detroit's last six contests.

An offensive weapon because of his booming shot, Frk is an intriguing player, but he can't seem to find his comfort level in the NHL.

He's played in 50 games and has 10 goals among his 20 points and is minus-12. He is averaging 10:28 in ice time and he's seventh overall among rookies with five power-play goals.

"He'll return," Blashill said. "My focus for him will be making sure he's skating on the forecheck, he's skating on the track. If he does those two things he's an effective player, obviously he's a guy that can score goals.

"He has to make sure he is creating more chances than he's giving up and that's what the game comes to, guys who create more chances than they give up are the ones that play, so that's going to have to be his focus.

"From a firestarter perspective, meaning what is the one thing that can really ignite his game, I think is when he skates on the forecheck and skates on the track, he's a really effective player. The rest of it comes along with it."

Blashill stressed it's just not Frk who needs to create more chances than he gives up on the ice. It is something all the young Wings must master if they want to play at an elite level in the NHL.

"Great players are guys that create way more chances than they give up on a nightly basis," Blashill said. "They win their shift way more than not. Great players aren't flash-in-the-pans, they're not guys that produce every once in a while, they're every single nighters, so whether it's Tyler, Larks (Dylan Larkin), AA (Andreas Athanasiou), (Anthony) Mantha, any of young players, whether it's Gus Nyquist, whoever it might be, we need guys to be great.

"Right now, as a team, we got to win as a collective group for sure and it's got to be on work ethic and competitiveness. I think long term, for the future of this organization, we need some guys to become great. It might be people that aren't here yet. I've talked to our young players about that, too, don't miss your window of opportunity.

"Lots of people are applauding you right now. That goes away if you don't get it done, so let's make sure we take care of that window of opportunity."

GREEN STAYS, STILL DAY-TO-DAY: Heading into the trade deadline, Green appeared to be the likely candidate to be moved at the deadline.

A much sought-after right-handed shooting defenseman, Green will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. So, if the Wings were going to deal, Green was the obvious player.

However, a neck injury has caused Green to missed Detroit's last six games, which put a gigantic stumbling block into any trade the Wings could have made for the veteran blueliner.

He is currently listed as day-to-day. Green is expected to miss his seventh consecutive game Wednesday in St. Louis and hopes to return to action this Friday in Winnipeg or next Sunday in Minnesota.

After Tuesday's optional practice, Green addressed the media about remaining with the Red Wings.

"My mind frame was always here in Detroit," Green said. "Obviously with the speculation and the talk and the situation I was in, anything could have happened but I'm still happy to be here and move forward.

"Listen, I think as a veteran guy in the league, you understand how it all works. In my situation, being out for 10 days and whatnot, obviously it had to do with the injury, but like I've said before this all came about, I love it here.

"Again, my focus has been here, always has and hasn't changed until something was done. Yeah, I'm still in the same mind frame."

Green has always let it be known he has bonded with the Wings and the city of Detroit. He likes it here and wanted to stay.

So much so, he revealed that he and the Wings have discussed re-signing with Detroit even if he becomes unrestricted.

"We've had discussions, yeah," Green said. "Obviously, the situation's been a little strange but we had discussions and I hope we'll have more discussions."

When he was asked if the chances of him remaining in Detroit after July 1 have increased because he wasn't traded, Green was noncommittal.

"I don't know," he said. "We'll see how things kind of take place over the next six months. But right now, I'm just focused on getting back on the ice and in games and playing hockey."

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