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The Malik Report

Brian Rafalski Playing Hockey Again

via the Florida Everblades,

Florida Everblades president and general manager Craig Brush, along with head coach Greg Poss, announced Thursday that the team has come to contract terms with long-time NHL defenseman and former Olympian Brian Rafalski.

Rafalski, 40, notched 515 points in 11 NHL seasons, split between the New Jersey Devils and the Detroit Red Wings.

The Dearborn, Mich., native won three Stanley Cups: 2000 and 2003 with the Devils and 2008 with the Red Wings. He was also on the blue line for Team USA at the last three Winter Olympic Games, taking the Silver Medal in 2002 and 2010.

“I’m just excited to get back on the ice again and see where God takes me on this journey,” added Rafalski, who had retired from professional hockey following the Red Wings’ exit from the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Thanks to a Josh Rimmer tweet for the heads-up

added 7:10pm, via the Detroit Free Press,

“He played in the Winter Classic alumni game and got the bug,” Everblades coach Greg Poss said. “He wants to play in the NHL again.”

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Comments

Hootinani's avatar

Did God also tell him to abandon the team that was paying him millions of dollars when they could have used him the most?

Posted by Hootinani on 01/09/14 at 07:17 PM ET

Avatar

I’m pretty sure he can be playing at a higher level then Q by the time the Olympics are over.

Posted by maltby18 on 01/09/14 at 07:22 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

I don’t care why he felt he had to leave the game. I’d take him back right now over Quincey. Pick up the phone and give him a call, Tick Tock. Even you should be able to figure this one out.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 01/09/14 at 07:23 PM ET

SK77's avatar

when they could have used him the most?

Posted by Hootinani on 01/09/14 at 07:17 PM ET

From what I remember, Rafalski was lucky to escape with his life the way he was getting nailed by forechecking forwards at the (first?) end of his career.

Posted by SK77 on 01/09/14 at 07:25 PM ET

bleep bloop's avatar

Based on what I recall of his retirement announcement speech, yes.

Posted by bleep bloop on 01/09/14 at 07:26 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Kenny? Hey, Kenny?? Put the phone down, Kenny. Is.. is that his agent’s number you have in front of you? No Kenny, don’t do it…

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 01/09/14 at 07:31 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

From what I remember, Rafalski was lucky to escape with his life the way he was getting nailed by forechecking forwards at the (first?) end of his career.

Posted by some kid on 01/09/14 at 07:25 PM ET

I don’t remember it as dramatically as you, but I doubt he’s going to be getting nailed any less 3 years later by the young ham n’ eggers in the ECHL.

Posted by Hootinani on 01/09/14 at 07:34 PM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

I’d take him at 80% of his old self over Q, every day of the week.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 01/09/14 at 07:35 PM ET

SK77's avatar

I don’t remember it as dramatically as you, but I doubt he’s going to be getting nailed any less 3 years later by the young ham n’ eggers in the ECHL.

Posted by Hootinani on 01/09/14 at 07:34 PM ET

Maybe George can weigh in on this as my memory is shite, but for some reason that last season I remember Rafalski being a step slower on his outlet passes and getting absolutely nailed by forwards coming in hot and heavy.

If it was just wanting to play minor hockey for fun in Florida then that’d make a little more sense (I guess?), but the Everblades coach’s quote about Rafalski wanting to play in the NHL doesn’t make a whole lotta sense ...

Posted by SK77 on 01/09/14 at 07:38 PM ET

SYF's avatar

I’d take him at 80% of his old self over Q, every day of the week.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 01/09/14 at 07:35 PM ET

Yup.

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 01/09/14 at 07:41 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Let’s look back…

Rafalski, a 37-year old defenseman, still had one year left on a five-year contract that he signed in 2007 with the Detroit Red Wings that would’ve paid him $6 million. His production hadn’t slipped, despite a frustrating season wrought with nagging injuries to his knee and back.

The veteran puck-moving blueliner tallied 4 goals and 48 points in 63 games played in the regular season and Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland already had him penciled into the top four defensemen on his team for the 2012 season.

Good thing he used pencil, because Rafalski used a pen in Holland’s office at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday morning to sign his retirement papers and make it official. Afterward, he talked about his reasoning in front of family, friends, Red Wings management and the media.

“The decision was made between myself and my wife approximately two months ago,” Rafalski said. “We went through a long process of weighing different factors in our lives and at the end of the day it came down to priorities—with the top three priorities being serving God, serving my family and serving others. Hockey not being at the top, it was time for me to move on.”

more at NHL.com

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 01/09/14 at 07:42 PM ET

SK77's avatar

So like many of us, Rafalski finally admitted that the Red Wings come before God, family, and others.

Posted by SK77 on 01/09/14 at 07:45 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Apparently God is pretty finicky.

Posted by Hootinani on 01/09/14 at 07:45 PM ET

NickLidstrom's avatar

I want to be happy for him but the way he so suddenly left, and now he plays in an alumni game and all of a sudden has the itch?

Upsetting.

Posted by NickLidstrom from a Higher Ground on 01/09/14 at 07:56 PM ET

Avatar

He was a mess during the finals vs Pitt in 09’. The Penguins even used it to their advantage by dumping the puck into Rafi’s corner rather than Lids.

Posted by Probie4Prez on 01/09/14 at 07:59 PM ET

NickLidstrom's avatar

When your options are giving the puck up to Nick Lidstrom or the other guy, you’re going to choose the other guy. Also, Rafalski was named the best defenseman in the 2010 Olympics, tied for 3rd in the whole tournament with 8 points (even if he did lose his man (Iginla) who fed Crosby for that game winning goal).

Posted by NickLidstrom from a Higher Ground on 01/09/14 at 08:05 PM ET

Avatar

Didn’t he have back issues? Why would he need NHL clearance to play in ECHL?

Posted by rjman48 from Royal Oak on 01/09/14 at 08:23 PM ET

Chet's avatar

i think he was racked by injury so much that he was not only spending all of his down time in the trainers’ room but also getting hit a lot more often than he was used to because of his limited mobility. maybe he can play at the ECHL level without getting killed, but the NHL? a long shot, i suspect—if anything forechecking at the NHL level has gotten faster and more aggressive since he retired.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 01/09/14 at 08:39 PM ET

Avatar

he was a shell of his former self and it was a godsend that he retired when he did leaving six million on the table for Kenny to use elsewhere. Red Wings had to release him from his contract in order for him to make a comeback or they would be on the hook for six million this season prorated since he signed that deal before age 35. that’s why it didn’t already count against the cap. q is way better no way do I want him back unless its for veteran minimum but I don’t see where they have the cap space anyway without waiving lashoff

Posted by jkm2011 on 01/09/14 at 08:56 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

First off, some of ya are rather pathetic about your view of him and his religion but that’s your issue I suppose…

Second off…as others have said he was getting rather beat up that last season…enough so that he was getting rather lambasted on this website every night. He couldn’t play at his elite level anymore hence he retired.

That six million of space was a godsend.

The Wings released him but according to Khan it looks like he’d contact the Wings for an AHL shot if it gets that far.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 01/09/14 at 09:06 PM ET

Avatar

I was very surprised to see him in the alumni game - I had basically forgotten about him, because the end was frustrating. I remember only the bad, like several of you.

The thing I remember thinking specifically was that I don’t think Brian Rafalski completed a single pass to a teammate in his final…40 some games. It was right to the other team, every time. When he talked about injuries later, I figured that would explain his inability to do anything right…I hope he doesn’t push himself past what he’s capable of now.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 01/09/14 at 09:07 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Even dippy George will weigh in on this one: if he wants to play again, that’s swell and all, and Khan says that the Wings both granted him free agent status and will have the opportunity to speak with him if he manages to prove that he’s AHL-worthy, but he couldn’t turn.

As I recall, he blew out his ACL when he was 15 or 16 and never had it repaired, and it caught up with him.

During his last season, every time somebody would indeed dump the puck in his end, or every time he’d make a self-sacrificing pass, he’d get walloped into the end boards by somebody taking advantage of his lack of mobility. He looked just like Chris Chelios did in his last year, just like Murph did in his last year and just like Nicklas Lidstrom did when he was playing with a broken foot—like someone who had lost his ability to evade forecheckers and someone who’d become a liability every time he handled the puck.

As I recall he had back issues as well, but the knee was the kicker. Defensemen at the beginning of their careers (see: Smith turning pro) and defensemen at the end of their careers have the same problem: they hang on to the puck for too long and they’re targeted as a result. Early on, it’s about not understanding that professional hockey requires quick decision-making; at the end it’s about not having the mobility to both make a smart pass and avoid a hit.

If Rafalski can prove that some time off has allowed him to heal up some physically and to have the mental desire to play at a high level, anybody and everybody will take a look at him as a low-to-no-risk signing, but he’s going to have to prove himself again.

As for the religion and politics stuff, I know I got in trouble saying, “Where did this come from?” but personal stuff is personal stuff, and as long as personal stuff doesn’t interfere with your status as a good teammate, it doesn’t matter.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/09/14 at 09:25 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

........what used to be is gone and what ought to be ought not to be so hard…  (Drive By Truckers)

Posted by Down River Dan on 01/09/14 at 10:35 PM ET

Slumpy's avatar

“I’m just excited to get back on the ice again and see where God takes me on this journey,”

He’s done doing the Kung Fu “walk the earth ” thing…....in south Florida with wife and is now ready to play hockey I understand, lol.
He was kinda of sloppy on D in his last last season with the Wings but if he’s refreshed I would love to see him back here.  Anything is better than watching Kindl play defense.
The old local boy did register over 40 pts in 63GP +11 in his last season.

 

Posted by Slumpy from Detroit on 01/10/14 at 08:26 AM ET

Avatar

Anything is better than watching Kindl play defense.

Kindl isn’t even the worst defenseman on the team.

Posted by Garth on 01/10/14 at 08:55 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

He’d have to be damn impressive in a decent-sized AHL stint to really, truly be an upgrade over even Quincey. I like the guy, was a great player and was wonderful to have a hometown guy on the team. But very very few players can play at 40, and not surprisingly they often turn out to be the all-time greats or the indestructible checkers. They are almost never D men with a chronic knee problem.

I know Quincey has been bad this season, but “bad and functional” is better than “not functional.” And Rafalski isn’t functional if every time he has to retrieve a puck he’s getting hammered into the 10th row.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 01/10/14 at 10:04 AM ET

Gary A$$ SUCK !!'s avatar

I’m glad!! I gotta see him here in Fort myers..Go Everblades Go…

Posted by Gary A$$ SUCK !! from Fort Myers, Florida on 01/10/14 at 12:23 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.