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Notes: Wings happy to see Nyquist again

Former Detroit draft pick settling in with Columbus and with his baby girl; Helm may play

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

COLUMBUS -- Gustav Nyquist was with the Red Wings for such a long time, it's still an odd thing to see him wearing another team's jersey.

Detroit originally selected Nyquist in the fourth round, 121st overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He played in 481 games with the Wings, scoring 125 goals and 170 assists.

At last year's trade deadline, the Wings sent Nyquist to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for the Sharks' second-round pick in the 2019 draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2020 draft.

A month after the trade, Nyquist faced the Wings for the first time.

In the offseason, Nyquist signed a four-year, $22 million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"We couldn't be happier," Nyquist said after the optional morning skate. "My family, we ended up here. We've come to a great place, a great organization, a great group of guys. It's made me feel at home right away. The first quarter part of the season, it's been great."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: A familiar face in Columbus. 😊🗣���: Gus Nyquist | #DETvsCBJ pic.twitter.com/qbW8R0Z6Uh

In 20 games with the Blue Jackets, Nyquist has three goals, nine assists and is minus-8.

Tonight in Columbus, Nyquist will see his former team for the second time and first with Blue Jackets.

"I played them when I was in San Jose. We had them down there," Nyquist said. "That was weird because it was so close to after the trade, so it almost like I thought, 'No wait, I shouldn't pass to that guy.' It's kind of one of those things because it's so close to it. I think now it'll be a little easier. The emotional part will probably be more when I go there and play in Detroit. Hopefully, we can have a good game here and build on things we've been doing here."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill has fond memories of his time with Nyquist.

"It was good to see Gus. I like Gus a lot," Blashill said. "Gus and I were together a long time, won a championship together in the American League. He's a great person, really good hockey player. I like him. It was good to see him."

Playing against someone you played with for so long is always a weird thing.

"It's always interesting, especially anytime you're facing a former teammate," Darren Helm said. "He was with the organization for a long time, it's almost like family. Seeing someone like that on the other side, it's always a bit of a change. When you get out there, it'll be competitive but seeing him around the hallways right now, it's good to catch up and see him."

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said Thursday morning that he is considering using Nyquist to kill penalties.

"It's a little new for me," Nyquist admitted. "I killed a little bit when I was in the minors but other than that, never killed at an NHL level, really. I think they've been easing me into it. I've had a couple of shifts here and there. I'm just trying to watch the guys more now who are on the ice and what they're doing and trying to do a good job of it."

Blashill believes killing penalties is something that Nyquist is capable of doing, even though he's always been a power-play guy.

"Gus is smart enough to kill penalties, no doubt," Blashill said. "I think it's something I talked to him about in the minors and then I reconsidered and said no chance. Both him and Tats (Tomas Tatar) would be all over me to let them kill penalties. He's smart enough to kill penalties for sure. If that's what they did, it wouldn't surprise me."

Off the ice, Nyquist is adjusting to a new role -- dad.

His wife, Danielle, gave birth last April to baby girl Charlotte while the Sharks were in the playoffs.

Nyquist rushed home for the birth before returning to the team.

"It's been great. It's been amazing," Nyquist said. "Having her, it was stressful in the playoffs last year but I got to spend the whole summer with her. It's been a great time.

"She sleeps through the night already so we can't complain about that. I'm getting my rest. Just enjoying when I'm home with her."

Nyquist still maintains the many friendships he had with people in Detroit, especially his former teammates.

Tweet from @Dwakiji: #RedWings Frans Nielsen and #CBJ Gustav Nyquist catch up after the Blue Jackets��� optional morning skate. pic.twitter.com/L6riXzXqTi

"I talk to quite a few of them," Nyquist said. "Being there for so long, it's felt like home for awhile for our family and I've become real close friends with a lot of guys on the team. They're going through a transition with a lot of younger players but they're still a lot of players that I played with throughout the years that are still on the team. I keep in touch with a lot of those guys."

One former teammate, Niklas Kronwall, has retired but remains a good friend and someone who will always have a special place in Nyquist's heart.

"He's probably the one that's meant the most to my career with the way he treated me and took care of me coming into the system in Detroit," Nyquist said. "I lived with him for a number of months. He really took me under his wing. He's one of my best friends and what an amazing career he's had. I'm happy that he's still involved in the organization, doing quite a bit of work there. I think he's really enjoying his time."

INJURY UPDATES: Helm, who left Tuesday's game in the second period with a lower-body injury, took part in the optional morning skate.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: 👋 from Columbus. pic.twitter.com/eTowJegtpa

"I feel pretty good," Helm said. "Hopefully it continues to feel good throughout the day and I can go."

Like several of the Wings, Helm was hurt blocking a shot.

"Part of the game, especially the killers," Helm said. "Kind of a league-wide thing right now, we're just not getting some lucky blocked shots, guys are going down but that's part of it."

As for the defense corps, Patrik Nemeth also skated but is not going to play.

"(Mike) Green's ruled out tonight," Blashill said. "Hicks (Joe Hicketts) has done a good job. We're still waiting for some other health things to decide what the lineup is tonight. But when Hicks has come up here, when he's done a good job, he's done a good job on the penalty kill. He plays with a swagger. He's moved the puck, avoided big mistakes. I thought as the game in San Jose went along, he got clogged in his own end because he wasn't moving his feet quite enough. But when he moves his feet, he moves the puck and he's a good player. And he's done a good job for us."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Good luck to the Detroit #RedWings Sled Team competing at the 10th annual USA Hockey Sled Classic, presented by the @NHL! #LGRW Their first game is tonight at 5:30 and you can watch @ https://t.co/UvGqN2v64Y pic.twitter.com/jGavNmTmfc

COACHING CHANGES: When the Toronto Maple Leafs fired coach Mike Babcock Wednesday, Blashill moved up to sixth-longest-tenured coach with his current team.

"I think the world we live in -- not just this profession -- but the world we live in is an instant gratification world and there's so much media availability and so much media -- mainstream media, social media, all of that -- the pressure tends to mount quickly and whatnot," Blashill noted. "Obviously Mike was fired yesterday in Toronto. Mike's a great hockey coach. I don't think anybody that is around the game doesn't think Mike's a great hockey coach. He did tons for me. He gave me a chance in this league and then hired me. During my time in the American League, we had unreal conversations and he helped me.

"Still to this day, I talked to him via text yesterday but I did talk to him three weeks ago. He called me to see how I thought things were going. The nature of the business and we all accept that, certainly it's hit a spot where sometimes when there's a lot of pressure -- this isn't referring to their situation -- but you asked me a general question -- when there's a lot of pressure, sometimes you make good decisions and sometimes you let outside influences affect your decisions. That's partly why at times I think it's hard to stick around."

NHL coaches have a good understanding about the transient nature of the business but they often have to help their families deal with that and with some of the negativity in social media.

"Year 1 I was on Twitter and quickly learned that was a mistake," Blashill said. "So I got off Twitter after Year 1. Sitting around having a beer and watching the second round of the playoffs and somebody's sending me a direct message attacking my usage of players. That was something that I certainly did and it didn't take me long to tell my wife, 'Listen, I don't want to hear from you what they're saying, either.' And that's the reality.

"My kids aren't on any of that type of social media but they certainly understand. My oldest, he's 13, so they like to give each other burns or what he calls 'beak each other,' so he hears lots that his dad sucks. I've given him some comebacks that my wife says aren't appropriate. I've learned from good people and Mike's certainly one of them. You learn to just do your job and do it to the very best you can, and try to come in every day and help your team get better.

"And you have to avoid the noise. You have to."

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