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Seeking consistency

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Red Wings forward Riley Sheahan is serving as a coach during youth camp at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT -- Like many young players, Red Wings forward Riley Sheahan is searching for consistency.

At the age of 24, Sheahan already has 204 NHL games under his belt.

Sheahan set a career high in goals last season with 14 but his overall point total fell from 36 in the 2014-15 season to 25 last year.

In the 49 games before the All-Star break, Sheahan had seven goals, six assists and was minus-14.

In the 32 games after the break, Sheahan had seven goals, five assists and was plus-6.

"I think the biggest thing is just being more consistent and trying to start the year like I did at the end of last year," Sheahan said. "I think just being consistent, being confident, maybe try to just be a little more physical out there and just have more of a presence."

At 6-foot-3, 222 pounds, Sheahan is one of the biggest Wings and the team could benefit from him throwing his weight around.

As he has the last few years, Sheahan is working out at Barwis Methods with roommates Luke Glendening and Dylan Larkin, plus Darren Helm and several other NHL players.

"This summer's been good so far in terms of the strength aspect, we've been on the ice quite a bit so I'm feeling comfortable, I'm feeling good and we're looking forward to getting the season started," Sheahan said.

It will be a very different season for the Wings in several ways.

For the first time since the 2001-02 season, Pavel Datsyuk will not be wearing the winged wheel.

"Pav's, I think for me, the best player I've ever seen or ever got a chance to play with and be on the ice at the same time," Sheahan said. "He was amazing and he was a guy that we all learned from but we did sign some key guys in the offseason. It'll be cool once they get here and get to know those guys. They'll definitely help us."

The Wings added Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott, all forwards, in free agency last month.

"Guys are obviously looking to improve and obviously want to do better than last year," Sheahan said. "I think guys are going to come into camp ready to play and it'll be fun. I know we got a lot of good forwards here, even some good forwards in Grand Rapids, too. It'll be good competition."

The other difference for the Wings will be the World Cup of Hockey, which means Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Petr Mrazek, Larkin, Justin Abdelkader, Nielsen, Vanek, Tomas Tatar and Alexey Marchenko won't be in training camp as they'll be representing their countries.

"It will be different," Sheahan said. "Obviously we don’t have our key leaders there but I think it’s good for the game what they’re doing. The World Cup will get a lot of attention. The camp will still be fine. It’ll still be intense and there will be a lot of guys there trying to make their mark and there will be a little more attention on them."

With the team in transition, Sheahan isn't sure whether he'll end up playing his natural center position or on the wing.

"It’s tough to say," Sheahan said. "I think we have so many forwards right now it’s hard to put everybody in a certain spot.  I’m going to be happy to play whatever position (coach Jeff Blashill) puts me. If that’s a wing position or a center position, I’ll be happy. I’m sure in all those spots you’re going to be playing with some good players."

For now, Sheahan is trying to coach the next generation of players during the Wings' youth camp at Joe Louis Arena.

"It’s been fun," Sheahan said. "They like to talk, they like to get their autographs. Kids are getting autographs on elbow pads and hockey bags and just random things I’ve never signed before. But it’s been a lot of fun. They got a lot of expression and they’re having a lot of fun out there."

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