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Notes: Somber Red Wings take the ice

As much as they are looking forward to the season, Las Vegas tragedy weighs on the Wings' minds

by Arthur J. Regner @arthurjregner /

DETROIT - Monday was supposed to be a happy day as the Red Wings practiced for the first time as a complete team with the preseason finally over.

However, with the mass shooting in Las Vegas still fresh, a day where anticipation and hope for success are usually the norm, Detroit's dressing room was quiet and the players were reflective.

"Obviously it is a big tragedy," Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "Everyone saw it here this morning when we got to the rink. We're going there in 10 days (Detroit plays at Las Vegas on Friday, Oct. 13) or something like that. It's hard to see. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that's involved there. Hopefully, nothing more happens."

Zetterberg is aware he and his teammates play in large cities with gigantic arenas. Though he tries not to dwell on what could happen during a game, he acknowledges each random act of violence makes it difficult not to have it creep into the back of his mind.

"You try not to think about it," he said. "You will go nuts if you think about it all the time. As a family we didn't go to a few destinations this summer just because of it.

"I won't say that it doesn't affect you, even though you try to live life as normal as you can. Something is wrong. We've got to figure out a way to get it fixed."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill hopes we can all come together and find common ground to figure out a real solution to curtail these frequent tragedies.

"It's unfortunate, you think about all those things too much, in today's society we got to get it figured out. It's absolutely craziness," Blashill said. "My heart goes out to victims, it's a sad, sad thing. It's something that's happened way too much in this country.

"With that said, you have to live life. It's a fine line. We try to live our lives but we're cognizant of what's going on. We got to make sure, the one thing this country has enjoyed for a long time is the safety to be able to live your life and we got to make sure we have that.

"So at some point we got to take some action. Especially in this country, we got to learn to take some action."

ZETTERBERG LONELY; HOWARD FOCUSED: Detroit's dressing room was different today as the Wings roster is being pared down to the 23-man limit.

"It was kind of lonely here today. It was weird not having 60 guys here. This is the group now," Zetterberg said. "We had a good practice today. We'll have a good one tomorrow. We have a staff party with the fans afterwards and Wednesday just do the final prep for the opener."

There were five extra stalls, which were once occupied by players until Monday. Instead of leaving the nameplate above the stalls vacant, the Wings paid homage to immortal names of their past.

Howe, Lindsay, Abel, Delvecchio and Sawchuk all had their nameplate adorn an empty stall. It is something that the Wings did at Joe Louis Arena and it has now carried over to Little Caesars Arena.

While many players have expressed that the preseason is a bit of an endless grind, Wings goalie Jimmy Howard sees the benefits of a long training camp and playing many preseason games.

"As players, it does feel that it drags on, but I also think it's important to play those games," Howard said. "When the regular season does come around, you're familiar with what the coaches want you to do with the game plan so you're not thinking, you're just playing.

"Personally, I like the workload, I like getting out there and getting guys in front of me, getting shots, feeling the puck and munching on the minutes."

Howard is expected to start in goal Thursday night when the Wings begin the regular season against the Minnesota Wild at Little Caesars Arena. If Detroit wins, it will be Howard's 200th career victory as as a member of the Red Wings.

"I don't even want to think about it," he said. "I don't want to force the issue or anything like that; so just go out there and play my game."

COREAU CLEARS; SPROUL, BOOTH ON WAIVERS: There was a lot of off-ice activity with the Wings Monday. Every player that was waived Sunday cleared waivers, including Calder Cup-winning netminder Jared Coreau.

Many pundits speculated Coreau would be claimed since it's been reported that several teams had at least a mild interest in his services.

"You don't want to lose a good player for nothing," Howard said. "So it's great he's going to be around with us."

Zetterberg was also glad the 6-foot-5, 220-pound goalie is still part of the organization.

"After camps like this, you have to make some hard decisions and gamble a little bit, I would say," Zetterberg said. "You have to make those decisions and obviously putting him on waivers was one thing. Now when he cleared, it was good for us. We'll still have him in the organization. We'll see what happens."

Defenseman Ryan Sproul and forward David Booth, who just signed a two-way contract with the Wings, were put on waivers Tuesday. Sproul was medically cleared before he was put on waivers. If either player is claimed, it will be released around noon on Wednesday.

Last week, Booth was hesitant to say if he would be willing to go to Grand Rapids if the Wings offered him a two-way deal. But when the offer came, he quickly accepted.

"I had talks with Ken (Holland) and he explained it very well. That's one thing I'm happy with. He said, 'Hey, you had a good camp. You can't go down. You've got to keep going up.' That's what's expected," Booth explained when asked why he agreed to a two-way contract. "That's what I expect of myself, that's what the organization expects. If I don't keep playing well, I understand that could be a possibility (going to Grand Rapids).

"Growing up a Red Wings fan, I've always been a Red Wings fan. I want them to do the best they can. The organization has been great to me so far, the guys have been great. I want this team to win and I want to be a part of it, that's why I came to camp, because I want to help this team win."

KRONWALL HURTING: Veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall sat out Monday's practice at the BELFOR Training Center. Kronwall, who has been plagued by a chronic knee issue, tweaked his groin, which has been slow to respond to treatment.

"He skated on his own today, he's going to skate on his own tomorrow and depending on how that goes, he may or may not practice," said Blashill. "I don't know if you'd say he's questionable or doubtful, he's like in between that for Thursday.

"I'm not going to play him Thursday if he's not 100 percent and has (not) had enough practice time because I don't want to play him for one game and lose him for two weeks.

"So it's just a groin thing he's going to work through, which is a positive that's not related at all to the knee issues he's had and it's not related to the back. But it's just one of those things.

"Sometimes when you've been off and you get going sometimes there's some minor issues. So hopefully he'll be ready on Thursday but we'll see."

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