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Notes: Wings wrap up training camp in Traverse City

Nemeth excited for opportunity in Detroit, sees team on upswing like Colorado was

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

TRAVERSE CITY -- The Detroit Red Wings wrapped up training camp at Centre Ice in Traverse City with some lighter practices than originally intended.

"We made a few adjustments today," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "It's still a hard day but not quite as hard as we'd planned, because we've got a lot of little tweaks. It's not unexpected at the beginning of camp, especially when you go really hard but we want to make sure we set the right mentality. I just don't want anything that's two days to turn into two weeks. We'll give guys the time off they need and we'll get into exhibition season."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: 🎯One last practice before we head home to get the preseason started! #LGRW

Blashill said he did not have any updates on Dylan Larkin, Mike Green and Darren Helm, who all missed Sunday's Red and White Game due to "tweaks" or on Andreas Athanasiou, who scored in the first half of Sunday's game but did not play in the second half.

There are still some things to be determined before the Wings decide who will play Tuesday night at home against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first preseason game.

"The challenge for guys like (Joe) Veleno and (Filip) Zadina is they already played four in five nights at the Prospect Tournament," Blashill said. "I've talked to Steve (Yzerman) about this -- is it beneficial for them to have an extra day off? I'm going to look at that as soon as I get back."

Although it's a bit of a hike from Detroit, Blashill said coming up to Traverse City every year is always a great experience.

"I think I prefer it, our guys prefer it. We like coming up here," Blashill said. "There's multiple reasons. One, you get to come up here, you're kind of away for a little bit. Your guys get to play some golf. It's beautiful up here. It's a little getaway. It's not super long. It's great. Traverse City's a beautiful spot in the world.

"Me personally, both my sister and my parents live here. I definitely like coming up here. Just from an aspect of team, it's really worked well. People up here are great. You also get to hit a whole side of Western Michigan and Northern Michigan that you don't get to hit on an everyday basis in Metro Detroit."

Being away from home, the players and coaches also get to focus on hockey, which led to a successful camp.

"Unreal work ethic. Unreal competitiveness. I thought yesterday's Red and White Game was as competitive as any Red and White Game we've ever seen," Blashill said. "Nik Kronwall echoed that. Certainly the most competitive in his memory. It kind of goes to I think what guys have said. They're sick of what we've been and they want to change that. Now you keep making those decisions, it gets way harder as you get into October and then December and January. So we just gotta keep grinding here, keep plugging away. But it's a good start."

NEMETH HAPPY TO BE WITH WINGS: The Wings did not target huge names in free agency this past July as they continue the rebuilding process.

But one player they did sign could actually be a very important factor on the blueline.

Patrik Nemeth is just 27 years old and is 6-foot-3, 219 pounds, making him a big presence on the back end.

"Man, he's strong as an ox," Blashill said. "He's strong, strong, strong. He wins puck battles, he wins net-front battles. We haven't been good enough in front of our net. We haven't been good enough at getting pucks out on the power play. We haven't been good enough in creating stalls in the D zone. He does all those things. He knows how to defend. He's got a good shot offensively, but he knows what he is.

"He's a really good defender and he went into the free agency, my take was let's get 200-foot players and he's a 200-foot player. We needed to become a good penalty-killing team and the best way to do that is to add great penalty killers. He blocks shots for fun. I think he's going to be a real good addition. I think he's a lot of what he didn't have, and I think he's a big man."

When asked to describe himself as a player, Nemeth mentioned all the things Blashill said the Wings needed. "What I want to do is I want to play a good 200-foot game," Nemeth said. "I want to be a good defender, penalty kill, play with a physical edge. That's what I'm bringing to this team."

Certainly Nemeth had a few options when deciding where to sign but felt the Wings could be the best fit.

"First of all, I think it's an organization that's on its rise," Nemeth said. "I think they've been missing the playoffs three years in a row, right? They have a lot of good young players and with the history it has, and it's a real professional organization. I think that was the most exciting part of it."

Nemeth has been through a similar upswing when he was with the Colorado Avalanche.

In the 2016-17 season, the Avalanche went 22-56-4, recording just 48 points and finishing seventh in the Central Division.

Colorado claimed Nemeth on waivers on Oct. 3, 2017 and he joined them in time to go 43-30-9, recording 95 points, finishing fourth in the division and making the playoffs.

Last season the Avs went 38-30-14, recording 90 points and finishing fifth in the division and making it to the second round of the playoffs.

"When I got in, I think they had 40-something points, really low points the year before," Nemeth said. "It was just trying to build a different mindset. That's what I'm talking about with Steve coming in, what he's trying to do. With him and Jeff, what they're trying to do is have that mindset switched, so you're expecting to win. That's something that you have to change in order to turn this thing around. That's what I think is appealing. It's interesting. It's a fun thing to be part of."

Although he wasn't there for Colorado's training camp, Nemeth said he felt things developing as they started to have some success.

"Once you get the feeling that you are actually winning some games, you've got some confidence in the group, I think that's when you're starting to believe that things can happen," Nemeth said. "If you have the right pieces, then you never know. The league is so tight now that you never know what can happen. If you look at St. Louis last year, they were predicted to be a top team in the league, got off to a slow start. I think they were last in the league by New Year's, and then they go win the Cup. Nobody expected that.

"It's such a tight league and if you just have a good gro up of guys, good character and have that mindset that you want to win, anything can happen."

Signing Nemeth also continues an interesting trend the Wings have of signing players who have fought Anthony Mantha, who turned 25 today.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, @antomantha8 ������

Mantha missed 15 games with an injured hand after fighting Nemeth on Dec. 2 at Little Caesars Arena.

The previous two seasons, Mantha played with Luke Witkowski after fighting him when Witkowski was with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"That's stuff that happens," Nemeth said. "My head was pretty hard. I don't know what to say. That was last year. It's just one of those things that happens sometimes."

Nemeth was originally the Dallas Stars' second-round pick, 41st overall, in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

So he knew defenseman Trevor Daley from there and goaltender Jonathan Bernier from Colorado.

Plus, as a native of Stockholm, Sweden, Nemeth also knew defensemen Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Former Red Wing defenseman Niklas Kronwall appears on Episode 129 of The Red and White Authority to discuss his career and his life after hockey.Listen/Rate/Subscribe:

"I've been skating with him ever since I started play over in North America, so I kind of knew him from before," Nemeth said of Kronwall, also from Stockholm. "What's he done, he's been one of the best -- in my mind, one of the two great defensemen in the game for a long time. With his record -- I don't know how many tournaments and Stanley Cups -- but you can just see what he's done. It's pretty impressive. He's got it all. For a Swedish defenseman, to watch him -- the Red Wings were just so good when I grew up, the way they played and all the Swedes that were here. It's just a fun thing to be a part of."

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