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Wings cancel prospect tournament

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Justin Abdelkader suited up for the Red Wings in the 2008 NHL prospects tournament in Traverse City. He is among a handful of Wings who have participated in the annual event. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – With the uncertainty of a player lockout looming in 30 days, the Red Wings have decided to cancel next month’s NHL prospects tournament, which has annually been held in Traverse City since 1998.

Out of respect for the northern Michigan community and the eight teams and their prospects, Wings general manager Ken Holland indicated that cancelling the four-day event now is in the best interest for everyone. The tournament was to begin on Sept. 15, the same day that the current collective bargaining agreement expires.

“Due to the uncertainty surrounding the collective bargaining agreement and the advance commitments required from the various parties including hotels, airlines, teams, players and their families, we have determined that it is in everyone’s best interest to cancel this year’s tournament,” Holland said in a prepared statement.

This is the first time that the tournament, held at Centre ICE Arena, has been cancelled in its 15 year history. The Wings started the tourney after winning the Stanley Cup in 1997 as a way to help develop their young talent in the organization. Some alumni from the inaugural event were Jiri Fischer, Danny Cleary, David Legwand, Ladislav Nagy, and J.P Dumont.

“The Red Wings, the staff at Centre ICE Arena and the countless volunteers throughout the Traverse City area have worked hand-in-hand to develop one of the most popular and professionally operated prospects tournaments in all of hockey,” Holland said. “The Red Wings and the seven other NHL teams that were scheduled to participate are committed to returning to Traverse City in 2013 and continuing with this with tremendous tournament.”

The first tournament featured young stars from the Red Wings, St. Louis, Chicago and Nashville. Though the Blackhawks and Predators are no longer involved, the event has become very popular among NHL teams, and doubled in size in 2011 to include the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, and New York Rangers.

Other Red Wings to participate in the tournament over the years have been Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Justin Abdelkader, Cory Emmerton, Jan Mursak, and Brendan Smith.

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