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Red Wings training camp, day 1, post 3: evening gnus

Well now. The first and second Red Wings training camp, day 1 posts seem to have run out of room, so here's a roundup of this evening's news stories as they relate to the first day of the Wings' abbreviated training camp.

The Wings' Facebook Day 1 photo gallery is bigger than the one on their website, and, via RedWingsFeed, the Windsor Star's Dax Melmer posted an excellent photo gallery as well (Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples and the Detroit News's David Guralnick posted photo galleries, too, and the Wings website's gallery is available here) ...

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose took note of Damien Brunner's much-heralded arrival...

“He's obviously a goal-scorer, but he's got more qualities than that,” said Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg. “He's a good skater, sees the ice very well and he wants to win. That's a good quality to have.”

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has already stated that Brunner will begin the shortened 48-game season with the NHL club. Pavel Datsyuk will center the Wings’ top line along with Zetterberg and Brunner, who have seemed to forge some continuity already having passed the time of the NHL lockout by skating as linemates for EV Zug in Switzerland’s top pro league. Zetterberg collected 16 goals and 16 assists in 23 games with Zug. But the biggest concern for Brunner is can he make the adjustment to the smaller NHL rinks? Players don’t have a lot of time in space to create opportunities in the North American game as they do on the Olympic-sized ice sheets in Europe.

“No space, right?” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock asked, rhetorically. “No space so it's a different game. We think he's obviously a real talented guy. Time's going to tell how he adapts. It worked out as good for him as it could have possibly worked because obviously leading the league in scoring again for the third year in a row, Z comes over, he develops a friendship, a confidence to play with real good players. Now he's just got to keep doing the same thing so we're excited about having him.”

Brunner's admission that an adjustment period is coming (and it's interesting to hear him speak as his English is good, but his very Swiss German accent throws people off. It's kind of high-pitched and a little melodic)...

“It was fun, but it was not much time to think because it was so intense,” Brunner said, in broken English. “The practices and the drills were just rolling, there were no breaks. But that was the best because you have no time to think or to be nervous. It took like 10 minutes to get used to it, but my linemates helped with the drills and I thought it went really well.”

And, of course, Brunner's living arrangements:

Brunner received his first introduction to Detroit in September when he arrived for the Red Wings’ informal workouts. It was during that trip that Zetterberg made the Swiss star feel at home, and he realized then that he had made the right decision to sign a free agent contract with Detroit.

“I was supposed to stay at the hotel,” said Brunner, of his first Detroit visit. “Then after two days (Zetterberg) came up to me and said, ‘Well, come and join me at my house.’ I lived with him and it was just a great gesture from such a great player. And it took away so many nerves. It’s really nice when I guy like him takes care of you, and I really appreciated that.”

In Twitter form, Hooked on Hockey's Kevin Sporka also transcribed Damien Brunner's comments to the media...

Damien Brunner: "I hope I can do a good job every day, try to learn, and adjust to the small ice."

DB: When told of his teammates' praises: It's nice that they have some nice words, but at the end of the day I have to prove it on the ice."

"I tried to skate hard. It was a good first practice."

Commenting on Zetterberg as a teammate: "I was really nervous at the beginning. The look on his face, takes away the pressure and nerves."

"It was awesome to have [Hank] for the whole [Zug] team."

On describing his style of play: "I hope I can bring a lot of speed, a lot of shots at the net."

First impression of practicing with team: "It was fun, but it was so intense, no break. There was no time to be nervous. My linemates

helped me out.

On potentially sharing a line with Datsyuk: "Well I still won't believe it, until I step on the ice (laughs)"

""Media stays out of the dressing room in Switzerland, they're not allowed to come in. After games for sure we have no cameras." Oops lol

On all the media hype and excitement from fans: "I'm gonna try to fulfill their expectations. It's gonna be tough for me, I'll try to work

hard to [fulfill] the expectations I have of myself."

MLive's Ansar Khan took note of Mike Knuble's comments and uphill roster spot-earning climb...

“The bottom line is you can show people how you’re playing and show that you might be an option down the line,'' Knuble said. “I think you’re really going to need depth guys this year. With guys going from absolutely stop to 100 percent, there’s going to be guys (injured). You’re definitely going to have to get help. Where they get it from is going to be determined.''

...

“I’ve talked to Kenny (general manager Holland) and Mike (coach Babcock), I know the situation,'' Knuble said. “The odds are against you. You just go out and play. My body feels good. And I don't think I'm mentally cooked yet.”

Knuble had been skating occasionally with the Grand Rapids Griffins the past few months. His agent called the Red Wings asking for a tryout.

“Part of who we are and what we are is giving people chances,'' Holland said. “We’re pretty deep up front. The one thing he’s got is size. You can teach that. Do we want to give him a one-way contract on Friday, a two-way contract or just release him? We have a quick six days here to evaluate and make a decision.''

...

“I’ve played with three or four guys in my career who’ve scratched and clawed their way into contracts in camps, but they did it by playing strongly in (preseason) games,'' Knuble said. “I’m not going to get to do that, so you’ve got to be very realistic, which I think I am.''

He knows how difficult it can be to crack this roster. After playing 53 games for the Red Wings during their 1997-98 Stanley Cup championship season, Knuble was dealt to the New York Rangers for a conditional draft pick. The Red Wings wanted to keep him, but their roster was stacked and they knew they would lose him for nothing on waivers.

“It seems like every time I’m here, the odds are against me,'' Knuble said. “You know what? You come out here and you’re thankful for the opportunity. You could be sitting at home. I know a few guys who are sitting at home right now. When you’re sitting at home and the league is going on without you, it’s not a good thing.''

Knuble also told Khan that he has a "backup plan," and it sounds like he may market himself to other teams, but I also know that he spent all summer saying that he wanted to stay as close to his family in Grand Rapids as possible.

Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji filed a story discussing Damien Brunner's addition...

"He likes to shoot," Zetterberg said. "If you have a shot like that, if I would have that I would love to shoot, too. That's one of his strengths and he will do it. He will have that role here. He will be the guy who's going to shoot a lot. He's a righty, so on power plays and stuff, it's going to be fun to see him here over this year. He is good enough to be a good player here."

Brunner has good memories of his first game playing alongside Zetterberg.

"We scored on opening shift," Brunner said. "It was fun. It’s so easy with him he’s such a great guy and a professional. It was great for the whole team."

...

"Everything happens so much quicker. I think it's more physical, you don't have as much time as you do over there," Zetterberg said. "It's more straight lines, more starts and stops. That's going to be a challenge for him. It is tough for everyone who comes over from Europe. That's the toughest thing to learn, but he's not 19 or 20. He's 26, he's been around for a while, he's got a lot of hockey sense, so I think he'll figure it out."

...

Niklas Kronwall said Brunner having that connection with Zetterberg will definitely ease his transition to the NHL.

"It's going to help him big time," Kronwall said. "They've developed some good chemistry already. They know where each other is, they can kind of read off each other. It also helps him get into a routine, getting to know the other guys, too."

Although Brunner was a star in the Swiss League and there are high expectations for such a talented scorer, he said he's just looking to fit in.

"I was playing in Switzerland and now I’m here and I’m battling for a spot," Brunner said. "It’s nice that they have some nice words, but by the end of the day I have to prove it on the ice.  This was one day of practice and I can’t say I did anything special. I try to skate hard and put pucks in the net."

The Associated Press's Larry Lage offered a short take on the Wings' camp as part of a league-wide, "Training camps have begun!" story:

Almost a full week after agreeing to a tentative deal, both sides signed a memorandum of understanding late Saturday night to seal labor peace for at least eight years. The signatures allowed teams to open training camp Sunday and most did, including the Detroit Red Wings at a roughly half-full suburban Detroit rink that has 3,504 seats.

"It almost felt like Christmas, seeing everyone again and seeing everyone so excited to get going again," Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "It was a great feeling to see all the fans out there also."

...

There's not much time to get ready for a 48-game sprint of a season - all that could be salvaged from an 82-game slate - that will start without anyone playing a preseason game and won't get much rest.

"Normally in a five-week training camp you get an opportunity to give everybody over eight exhibition games the power play, the penalty kill, everything to really show what they have," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "That's not going to happen."

And while he didn't make any Twitter comments about his presence, USA Today's Kevin Allen offered a blended story discussing both the http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nhl/news/20130113/nhl-returns-to-ice/#ixzz2HuTBCrYG">Wings' and Flyers' training camps as well:

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said being back in an NHL environment felt like it was "Christmas and you were a kid again."

Players from 30 NHL teams probably had similar feelings Sunday as training camps opened in anticipation of Saturday's start of the abbreviated 2012-13 NHL season.

"I'm so excited just to get going again," Kronwall said. "It was a great feeling to see all of the fans out there."

About 2,000 fans showed up at Compuware Arena to watch the Red Wings hold two practices, a positive sign for a league that had some concern about fan backlash over the 119-day lockout.

...

For Red Wings fans, it was their first time to see their team since it was knocked out in the first round on April 20.

Kronwall said he is glad that he doesn't have to hear the words CBA, lockout and negotiations anymore.

"It's been a frustrating fall," he said. "A lot of ups and downs. There were times when I thought it was done and times when I thought the whole season was lost. It feels good to have it behind us."

Amen to that.

And this is a re-post, but I dig parallelism, so here's Ansar Khan's story about Mike Knuble...

“The bottom line is you can show people how you’re playing and show that you might be an option down the line,'' Knuble said. “I think you’re really going to need depth guys this year. With guys going from absolutely stop to 100 percent, there’s going to be guys (injured). You’re definitely going to have to get help. Where they get it from is going to be determined.''

 ...

“I’ve talked to Kenny (general manager Holland) and Mike (coach Babcock), I know the situation,'' Knuble said. “The odds are against you. You just go out and play. My body feels good. And I don't think I'm mentally cooked yet.”

Knuble had been skating occasionally with the Grand Rapids Griffins the past few months. His agent called the Red Wings asking for a tryout.

“Part of who we are and what we are is giving people chances,'' Holland said. “We’re pretty deep up front. The one thing he’s got is size. You can teach that. Do we want to give him a one-way contract on Friday, a two-way contract or just release him? We have a quick six days here to evaluate and make a decision.''

...

“I’ve played with three or four guys in my career who’ve scratched and clawed their way into contracts in camps, but they did it by playing strongly in (preseason) games,'' Knuble said. “I’m not going to get to do that, so you’ve got to be very realistic, which I think I am.''

 He knows how difficult it can be to crack this roster. After playing 53 games for the Red Wings during their 1997-98 Stanley Cup championship season, Knuble was dealt to the New York Rangers for a conditional draft pick. The Red Wings wanted to keep him, but their roster was stacked and they knew they would lose him for nothing on waivers.

“It seems like every time I’m here, the odds are against me,'' Knuble said. “You know what? You come out here and you’re thankful for the opportunity. You could be sitting at home. I know a few guys who are sitting at home right now. When you’re sitting at home and the league is going on without you, it’s not a good thing.''

Knuble also told Khan that he has a "backup plan," and it sounds like he may market himself to other teams, but I also know that he spent all summer saying that he wanted to stay as close to his family in Grand Rapids as possible. Given Ken Holland's conversation about Knuble with the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness, it sounds like the Wings want to keep him around, especially given that Knuble's 6'3." 229 pounds, and likes to hang out in front of the net:

“First off, you have to look at our history,” Holland said in a phone interview Sunday night. “Part of who we are and what we are I guess if giving people chances, either people who they thought we too old or had maxed out somewhere else. He’s an NHL player, we drafted him, he’s 6-foot-4 and you can’t teach size. We kind of want to see if he has what we need.

“It’s going to be a quick look, we have Red and White game on Tuesday so it’s a quick look for our coaches,” Holland added. “We told him we’ll let him know Friday what we’re thinking and if he’s got some hockey left in him. For him it’s a chance to earn a contract. He’s in a training camp, he wants to hook on and play one more year.”

Knuble had been working out in Grand Rapids with the Griffins during the lockout and approached the Wings about coming to camp.

“We’re pretty deep up front,” Holland said. “Again, the one thing he’s got is size. You can teach that. If he was 5-11, we’ve got some good smaller players. Do we want to give him a one-way contract on Friday, a two-way contract or just release him. We have a quick six days here to evaluate and make a decision.”

And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spoke to Knuble as well:

“It seems like every time I’m in here, the odds are against me,” said Knuble who was invited to the Red Wings’ training camp on a professional tryout. “You come out here and you’re thankful for the opportunity. You could be sitting at home. I know a few guys who are sitting at home right now. When you’re sitting at home and the league is going on without you, it’s not a good thing.”

Knuble played the last three seasons in Washington, but things didn’t go as the veteran forward would have liked. He produced six goals in 72 games for the Capitals last season.

In order to make the Wings’ roster, he’ll have to do so as a fourth liner, beating out Cory Emmerton or Jan Mursak. But if things don’t work out with the Wings, the 40-year-old winger believes the compressed NHL schedule will present opportunities elsewhere.

“The bottom line is you can show people how you’re playing and show that you might be an option down the line,” said Knuble, who won a Stanley Cup with the Wings in 1998. “I think you’re really going to need depth guys this year. With guys going from absolutely stop to 100 percent, there’s going to be guys dropping. You’re definitely going to have to go get help. Where they go get it from is going to be determined.”

But without preseason games to showcase what he has left in the tank, Knuble knows the odds are against him, especially on a Wings’ team with so much up-front depth.

“You’ve got to see how this plays out,” he said. “All you can do is show them what you can do in a week.”

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Comments

Bugsy's avatar

In danger of being picky, shouldn’t the quotes being saying: “Again, the one thing he’s got is size. You can’t teach that.”?

Posted by Bugsy on 01/14/13 at 12:35 AM 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.