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Owens is an unknown no more

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Before this week’s training camp, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock didn’t know Jordan Owens.

So it was an accomplishment – to say the least – when Owens, a 24-year-old minor leaguer not only dressed in the annual end-of-camp Red & White Game, but helped his Red Team to a 5-3 victory with an unassisted goal.

Owen’s NHL future is unclear, but if he’s to remain in the organization it will be with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, for whom he played 17 games last season.

“He’s not going to make our hockey club,” Babcock said, “but to me I didn’t know who he was, but now I do. So that’s a good camp. He played with real good energy, he played with real good speed and he was tenacious. The other thing I liked about it is if you would have asked what the Red & White line-up was before the start of camp, he wouldn’t have been in it. He worked his way into that opportunity, so good for him.”

Owens was acquired by the Wings when they sent NHL journeyman Kris Newbury to the New York Rangers’ organization last March. Owens was actually a player that the Wings had an eye on some years ago, and even invited him to training camp before he signed with the Rangers in 2006. In 177 AHL games, Owens has 26 goals and 49 assists,

But for now, Owens is just pleased to make it to the next level in his development, which will come during the Wings’ preseason.

“I’m pretty happy with the way camp went,” said Owens, who had a goal in each of the camp's intra-squad scrimmages leding up to Tuesday. “It was short-lived, but tough. Every day is a grind, and I ended up being pretty successful in camp scoring a few goals, but I don’t really think about it. I just want to work as hard as I can and hope that everything works out.”

Throughout the game – which consisted of two 25-minute periods – Owens skated along side Patrick Eaves and center Darren Helm, who also scored an unassisted goal for the Red Team.

“It was definitely fun to play with some full-time NHL guys,” said Owens, a Toronto native. “It’s exciting. Those guys are guys who I look up to and they’re my role models and I want to be like those guys.”

RED & WHITE FINAL: Henrik Zetterberg scored the game-winner in the Red Team’s 5-3 win Tuesday afternoon. Prospects Brendan Smith and Jamie Tardif also scored for the Red.

Jan Mursak, Dan Cleary and Jakub Kindl all scored for the White Team.

SMITH’S CAMP: Brendan Smith attended his first Wings’ camp this week after spending the last three years at the University of Wisconsin. His goal at 13:50 of the first period gave the Red Team a 1-0 lead Tuesday afternoon.

“He’s confident. He’s a good player,” Babcock said. “He has the ability to be a game-breaker. Game-breakers have a tendency to want to break the game all of the time. … It’s a game of taking what the opposition gives you and being patient and wait for your opportunity.”

The Red Wings head to the Iron City for Wednesday’s preseason opener against the Penguins. Babcock indicated Monday that Chris Osgood will see two-periods of action in goal for the Wings. Goalie Thomas McCollum will work the third period.

The Wings are keeping Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Brian Rafalski back in Detroit, along with their top scoring offensive line of Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom.

Scheduled to play against the Penguins are forwards Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Todd Bertuzzi, Jiri Hudler, Mike Modano, Dan Cleary, Mattias Ritola, Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Justin Abdelkader and Aaron Downey; and defensemen Brad Stuart, Jakub Kindl, Jonathan Ericsson, Ruslan Salei, Derek Meech and Brian Lashoff.

The Red Wings will open the home portion of their preseason schedule on Friday when they host the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena at 7 p.m. EDT.

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