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Abel to Yzerman

Red Wings release ‘Red vs. White Game’ roster, make cuts, and a death stare

Because I’m not too comfortable with my “smart phone” yet, I sped back from the rink to the hotel to write this entry, and I’m doing so because I’m going to tell you the difference between a journalist and a partisan blogger right here: journalists watch young men walk by and be summoned into the scouts’ office and wait for the next quote, as is their job.  Partisan fans who happen to write about hockey can’t really look away as they watch young men first wait outside an office and then be summoned in to hear what the team’s scouts, director of player development and GM have to say as to what they need to improve upon because they’re being cut, and the Red Wings had to make twelve hard decisions today. 

Twelve players I’d watched and to some extent cultivated relationships with over the last week and a half got their walking papers today, and watching it happen was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a hockey writer.  All I could do is shake the vast majority of their hands and tell them, “Good job” or “see you next year,” and it hurt—because I’m a Red Wings fan.

The Wings returned the following players to their junior teams:

Signed player and grinding forward Mitchell Callahan will return to the Kelowna Rockets, and he went so far as to put his fake front teeth in for the interview, amicably telling RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau and I that he’ll see us next fall.

Draft pick Landon Ferraro spent a good five minutes in the office with the scouts before walking by flustered, simply saying goodbye before heading back to play for the Everett Silvertips.

Signed defenseman Gleason Fournier was sent back to the Rimouski Ocenanic, and he walked past briskly.

Ottawa 67’s goaltender Petr Mrazek bid us farewell.

I made sure to tell Tri-City Americans forward Brooks Macek that he, “Looked great with the big boys,” because he did.

Former draft pick and Windsor Spitfires forward Stephen Johnston was let go as a free agent, as were the following free agent try-outs: Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors defenseman Alex Cord, Barrie Colts forward Darren Archibald, Moose Jaw Warriors forward Antonin Honejsek, and the one of the two players that Ken Holland went on the record as suggesting that the Wings are considering signing—and they have until the end of the month to decide whether to do so—Ottawa 67’s defenseman Marc Zanetti, who I said goodbye to prior to his meeting with the scouts.  Montreal Juniors forward Trevor Parkes, of the endless back-tweaking tic, remains on the roster for now, and Spokane Chiefs defenseman Brenden Kitchton already left as he broke his left index finger.

PEI Rocket sniper and budding power forward Andrej Nestrasil shook hands with us as he left the rink with Honejsek.

And I turned out of a scrum with 40-year-old All-Star and probable Hall of Famer Mike Modano to extend my hand to Montreal Juniors forward and Wings draft pick Louis-Marc Aubry.  I told him that he should be proud of himself, because he’s a genuinely nice kid who needs to grow into that big body and become a helluva two-way forward.

That’s how it works in hockey.  It’s not supposed to be “fair.”  It’s a hard business and players have to be cut.  The reality of the prospect tournament I witnessed last week, as Brent Raedeke’s dad so eloquently put it, is that about 10-12% of the players who participated will play in a game in the NHL, and, according to the prospect tournament program, somewhere between 8-9% will play in at least 250 games.  Maybe 3% will become “name players,” stars or superstars.  That’s the business of professional sports, and it says something about the Wings’ organization that they put so much time, energy and effort into their summer prospect camp and the fall prospect tournaments knowing that only a handful of the players participating will ever don the Winged Wheel for an NHL game.  I can’t say enough about how well the Wings treat all their players, and the fan support we at least get to give them in Traverse City gives them a taste of what it’s like to play in Grand Rapids or Detroit.

In the end, sometimes all you can do is cheer the prospects on, and if they don’t make the cut, wish them well and hope to see them next year.

The Red Wings break camp after the Red and White game at 12 PM on Tuesday and head first back to Detroit, where the 51 players left on the roster will be split into first three teams as the Red Wings have to head to Pittsburgh to open the exhibition season, where Mike Babcock says jobs will be won and lost (makes you wonder why more exhibition games aren’t televised when that’s the “real” proving ground), and at the same time, the Grand Rapids Griffins will open camp at the Joe on Wednesday. 

As the Red Wings play exhibition games this Wednesday, Friday the 24th, Saturday the 25th (versus and at Chicago, respectively) and against the New York Rangers on Sunday the 26th, the Wings will use those 50 players, and then cut down the roster further, into, usually, anyway, a “Team Lindsay” and a “Team Howe.”  The respective teams will rotate for the next four exhibition games, with the Wings’ roster increasingly become NHL-heavy as the pre-season wraps up with three games in three nights on October 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

In the immediate future, the Red Wings have that red-and-white game to play before breaking camp, and Kris Draper won’t take part in it.  He stated that his groin’s responded well to treatment, but Piet Van Zant, the Wings’ trainer, doesn’t want to push it, so Draper will head home with the team on Tuesday and won’t play in Wednesday’s exhibition game in Pittsburgh, for starters.

The Red and White Game’s rosters are as follows, and they may very well constitute the better part of the Wings’ exhibition game “teams”:

Red Team:

Forwards:

Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Tomas Holmstrom

Mattias Ritola-Justin Abdelkader-Drew Miller

Jordan Owens-Darren Helm-Patrick Eaves

Tomas Tatar-Joakim Andersson-Kirk Maltby

Jamie Tardif

Defensemen:

Nicklas Lidstrom-Niklas Kronwall

Doug Janik-Brendan Smith

Brian Lashoff-Derek Meech

Greg Amadio

Goaltenders:

Chris Osgood

Thomas McCollum

White Team:

Forwards:

Johan Franzen-Valtteri Filppula-Todd Bertuzzi

Jiri Hudler-Mike Modano-Dan Cleary

Francis Pare-Cory Emmerton-Jan Mursak

Ilari Filppula-Jamie Johnson-Aaron Downey

Brent Raedeke

Defensemen:

Brad Stuart-Brian Rafalski

Jonathan Ericsson-Ruslan Salei

Jakub Kindl-Logan Pyett

Travis Ehrhardt

Goaltenders:

Jimmy Howard

Joey MacDonald

Also remaining on the team’s 51-man roster: Draper, Chris Minard, try-out Trevor Parkes, Willie Coetzee, who may or may not be sent back to the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels, Sebastien Piche, Sergei Kolosov and Jordan Pearce.

For the record, I also asked Mike Babcock my first question, had it spat back at me to some extent and got a bit of a death stare and did not spontaneously combust.

More later, obviously.

Update 4:48 PM: I get to pick Jim Nill’s brain tomorrow.  Submit questions if you’d like.

Update 9:41 PM: Some of the details I shared apparently upset Ms. Lindenau and I’m publicly apologizing for them.  I didn’t mean to cross any public-versus-private lines and I’m sorry.

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Comments

chollis's avatar

You are no longer mortal now that you’ve survived the death stare. Simply amazing.

Posted by chollis from Seattle. Seriously. on 09/20/10 at 06:52 PM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

Nice details on the cut players.  Great work, George.
Is Wed. game in the new Pittsburgh rink..?

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 09/20/10 at 06:54 PM ET

stille's avatar

Posted by HockeyTownTodd from A. K. A. NostraGrampus on 09/20/10 at 04:54 PM ET

Yes, first game there. I’ve been wondering if they will make their team “NHL-heavy” to give a better guarantee of winning the first game played there.

Posted by stille from Grand Haven on 09/20/10 at 07:17 PM ET

Avatar

Pittsburgh will dress Crosby, Malkin and Orpik specifically, as those were the players Bylsma singled out when saying more regulars will be in than usual because it’s the first game in the new arena.

Posted by NathanBC on 09/20/10 at 07:31 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Draft pick Landon Ferraro spent a good five minutes in the office with the scouts before walking by flustered

Wonder why?

He must have known the chances of him making the big squad this year were slim. He’s a blue collar player, which is good, but hardly something the Wings are so in need of they would take Landon already.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 09/20/10 at 07:34 PM ET

MarkK's avatar

My guess is yes, at least a little bit, made easier by the fact that the Pens’re only playing 6 exhibition games, and only 1 of the 4 in September is away (Friday, all the way cross country in Columbus). I’m sure they’re making a lot of the same decisions, though, and will still be using it as a live tryout.

Posted by MarkK from Maryland on 09/20/10 at 07:35 PM ET

MarkK's avatar

Head coach Dan Bylsma announced on Monday that many of the team’s marquee players, including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik, will be among the 20 players that will dress against the Red Wings.

“That the game on (Wednesday)is the first game in this building definitely played into some of the decision-making about the lineup,” Bylsma said. “I think Sidney Crosby should be in that game, being the first game.

Posted by MarkK from Maryland on 09/20/10 at 07:36 PM ET

Osrt's avatar

Will the Wed. game be televised?

Ferraro is still our guy right? Just making sure.

Jim Nil, are you a fan of monkey’s bestiality jokes? Oh, and this named Gramps wants you to hire Hitchcock grin  Seriously though, I wonder if you could share your observation on Meech and ask if Nil would agree, or just ask about his situation generally. Double goes for Downey.

I’m sure watching these guys get cut, especially if they didn’t see it coming, was hard. I’m glad, too, that you went with your heart in responding to them.

Nice write up George.

Posted by Osrt on 09/20/10 at 07:52 PM ET

Avatar

George, I’ve got a question regarding the 12 players you mentioned being “cut”. I know some of them already have signed contracts with the Wings. Does being “cut” mean they cannot play for the Griffins this year, or is there a certain point in the year where they can rejoin the Griffins, like once their junior year is done? I’m a little lost on this point

Posted by Rob Benneian on 09/20/10 at 08:00 PM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

Will the Wed. game be televised?

Hockeystreams has the pre-season schedule up.  lotsa games but the Wednesday
DET/PIT is not on it.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 09/20/10 at 08:32 PM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

Wings pre-season Tv schedule here, 6 of 8 games is not bad at all.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 09/20/10 at 08:46 PM ET

Avatar

Rob Benneian,

“cut” from the NHL team. Everyone at main camp is trying out for an NHL job and if they get cut, they go back to their ‘home’ team (AHL, CHL, European leagues, etc.)

If they are camp tryouts (without a contract) they are back to only being ufa’s.

Posted by NathanBC on 09/20/10 at 08:58 PM ET

Avatar

“cut” from the NHL team. Everyone at main camp is trying out for an NHL job and if they get cut, they go back to their ‘home’ team (AHL, CHL, European leagues, etc.)

If they are camp tryouts (without a contract) they are back to only being ufa’s.

Yeah I get that, but does that mean the guys who are “cut” cannot play for the Griffins either? Because the way George described some of the guys leaving in a huff…I can’t believe Ferraro or Callahan thought they’d have a chance this year..?

Posted by Rob Benneian on 09/20/10 at 09:01 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Save the Tata(r)s !

Still with the team for the NHL pre season.

Posted by RWBill on 09/20/10 at 09:12 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The only players who can play for the Griffins are the ones who have both fulfilled their Major Junior eligibility and/or have been signed to NHL contracts.

Willie Coetzee can join the Griffins because he turns 20 this year, which makes him AHL-eligible, and has been signed to a contract.

Otherwise, once you’re cut, you go back to your junior team. 

For players who are cut from here on out, Trevor Parkes excluded, the players will be assigned to the AHL (Grand Rapids) or ECHL (Toledo).

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/20/10 at 09:18 PM ET

w2j2's avatar

Questions for Nill:

Mike Babcock is pleased that he is seeing younger players of greater size…
Are the Wings tilting their preference a little from “skills” to “size”, or are the best skill players just getting bigger?

Is Hakan Anderson getting more competition in Sweden from other NHL teams?

Are the Wings satisfied with the progress their draftees are making in NCAA college hockey as opposed to the Junior Leagues?

Does he worry about other players pulling a “Hudler” and going to Russia?

Posted by w2j2 on 09/20/10 at 09:27 PM ET

Sullyosis's avatar

Save the Tata(r)s !
Still with the team for the NHL pre season.
Posted by RWBill from the Capital of the Confederacy. on 09/20/10 at 07:12 PM ET

I see what you did there….

And I like it…

Posted by Sullyosis from A hateful lair in Post Apocalyptic US (or Arizona) on 09/20/10 at 09:40 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

She’s Back !
8 o’clock Eastern and Specific times!

Posted by RWBill on 09/20/10 at 09:41 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

The UA started like barn burners in that first quarter, I didn’t watch all of it.

IA nearly came back all the way.

Posted by RWBill on 09/20/10 at 09:46 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Awesome avatar, RWBill. It may cause Osrt some problems (ie. fapping on a hockey blog [oh yeah, he already loves Wally]).

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 09/20/10 at 10:01 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Tomas Holmstrom knows he’s making the team, but that doesn’t stop him from putting on a straw hat and drawing a circled cross in white paint using a snake’s nose before opening his locker, just in case.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/20/10 at 10:28 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

She’s Back !
8 o’clock Eastern and Specific times!

Awesome. But Isn’t that what Hulu is for? I refuse to bow down to the programming overlords. Plus, it’ll never interfere with Wings games. They’ve actually got a fair number of archived Wings games on there too.

http://www.hulu.com/nhl/detroit-red-wings

Sorry, US residents only, unless you can spoof the thing.

And George, great work on the coverage. Nice to get an understanding how all that behind the scenes stuff works too.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 09/20/10 at 10:32 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Wonder why?

He must have known the chances of him making the big squad this year were slim. He’s a blue collar player, which is good, but hardly something the Wings are so in need of they would take Landon already.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste. Marie on 09/20/10 at 05:34 PM ET

Maybe it wasn’t the fact he was cut, but maybe something was said that just didn’t sit right with him, or confused him, who knows…. it doesn’t have to necessarily mean he expected to make the first cut.

Posted by Primis on 09/20/10 at 11:27 PM ET

TeamDub's avatar

Really O.T, but this sounds like it should be coming out of a ‘Wings sweater…

What impressed Lombardi this summer was how Mitchell handled free agency. When July 1 came and the money was being doled out on the first day of the open market, Mitchell and his agent quietly informed suitors they weren’t willing to talk yet. Mitchell wanted to make sure he was 100-percent recovered before beginning to negotiate with teams.

“I don’t know how many guys would do that because it could have been easy for a guy to say, ‘There’s a good chance I’ll be healthy’ and there’s no question he would have had some bidding on him,” said Lombardi. “But the way he did it, `I’ve got to get healthy,’ that’s impressive.”

Mitchell likely cost himself at least $1.5 million a year by skipping early July’s free-agent bonanza, but he said he doesn’t care.

“I wanted to go about it the right way,” said Mitchell. “I didn’t think it would be fair to me or fair to a team to go in there and sign with a team and maybe have a relapse. Then I’m not ready and a GM ties up money in a player and they’re screwed. I thought that would be the best way to go about things and so far it’s been correct. Everything has gone according to plan. I just can’t wait for a game.”

I wish the kid luck.

Posted by TeamDub from The gratch. on 09/20/10 at 11:53 PM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

I coach kids sports at a fairly competitive level, we have tryouts twice a year… and as the bench boss “manager” I am always excited about the potential of new players but the flip side is having to look at a young boy & their parents and say “thanks but no thanks”.  It’s a necessary EVIL and I hate it.
Aaaaaaanyway, well done George and I guarantee you will never get “over” that feeling of remorse, guilt, sympathy etc etc etc. Good on ya for standing tall and speaking to the guys like a true person, not a fan, not a blogger a compasionate human being.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 09/21/10 at 12:04 AM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

I wish the kid luck.
Posted by TeamDub from The gratch. on 09/20/10 at 09:53 PM ET

Dub(!), nice find there. How the hell are ya? How’s the teaching gig going?
Add anything to the firearm collection lately?

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 09/21/10 at 12:05 AM ET

TeamDub's avatar

Mo(!!)

In the thick of it, should be done and graduated by mid-December. 128 7th-graders over 5 periods. They’re interesting critters.

Nothing added lately, but, sadly, a subtraction. The mint, unfired Norinco SKS had to go - this student teaching gig pays for shite.

(In all seriousness, it’s great. Seeing the little lightbulbs come on is, on the exhilaration scale, on par with a Datsyukian dekefest. Fun, rewarding stuff.)

I really, really can’t wait for the season to start - I have a good feeling aboot this squad.

Hope all is well!

Posted by TeamDub from The gratch. on 09/21/10 at 12:35 AM ET

sesorkcalb's avatar

Great article George.

Posted by sesorkcalb from Florida on 09/21/10 at 12:42 AM ET

Keyser S.'s avatar

Update 9:41 PM: Some of the details I shared apparently upset Ms. Lindenau and I’m publicly apologizing for them.  I didn’t mean to cross any public-versus-private lines and I’m sorry.

Signed player and grinding forward Mitchell Callahan will return to the Kelowna Rockets, and he went so far as to put his fake front teeth in for the interview, amicably telling RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau and I that he’ll see us next fall.

Please tell me she didn’t get upset aboot this and that it was something else. Sounds quite petty to me. However, Ms. Lindenau might be a bit more competitive than I thought she would be.

Posted by Keyser S. on 09/21/10 at 12:43 AM ET

Osrt's avatar

Posted by w2j2

Great questions.

Posted by TeamDub

Good to hear Dub. I miss teaching.

She’s Back !

Yea, Sophia will be here in a week! All the winking I want.

Posted by Osrt on 09/21/10 at 01:00 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I’m not going to tell you what I did or didn’t say that offended her.  It’s between me and her.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/21/10 at 01:23 AM ET

stonehands-78's avatar

“For the record, I also asked Mike Babcock my first question, had it spat back at me to some extent and got a bit of a death stare and did not spontaneously combust.”


awesome

And for those that may remember my job situation (or lack thereof, such as it was), I accepted an engineering position with a local company and will be starting Monday. Thank the Lord!

Now, L.G.R.W.

Is it October yet?

Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 09/21/10 at 01:36 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Are the Wings satisfied with the progress their draftees are making in NCAA college hockey as opposed to the Junior Leagues?

Does he worry about other players pulling a “Hudler” and going to Russia?

Posted by w2j2 on 09/20/10 at 07:27 PM ET

THESE questions, George.

Growing pains, George.  Gotta earn them scars and thick skin as well.

Posted by SYF from Jackie Redmond's blue eyes on 09/21/10 at 02:36 AM ET

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com