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Red Wings afternoon news: Meech cuts ties, Mule recovers and ‘Bras for a Cause’

The Red Wings planned to submit qualifying offers to all of their restricted free agents and hoped to attempt to retain their unrestricted free agents-to-be who wish to to return, but the Free Press’s George Sipple reports that Derek Meech, who spent the season on the Grand Rapids Griffins’ blueline, has informed the Wings that he’d prefer to leave the team:

“It’s time for me to move on and explore some different options,” Meech said. “I’ve been in the organization for seven years. It’s been unbelievable. I’ve learned a ton.”

The highlight was being part of the Stanley Cup champion team in 2008. The Wings successfully petitioned to have his name on the Cup, although he didn’t appear in the playoffs and played in 32 regular-season games, eight fewer than the minimum for Cup consideration.

“Just fortunate to be part of something like that,” Meech said.

Meech harbors no regrets about spending the 2010-2011 season with the Griffins…

He posted the best offensive numbers of his career with 10 goals and 37 points in 74 games with 81 penalty minutes. The 10 goals were the most he’d scored in a season since scoring 10 in his final season with Red Deer in the Western Hockey League in 2003-04.

“I got a lot of games under my belt and started to gain some of my identity back,” Meech said.

And at this point, Meech tells Sipple that he’s not ruling anything out in terms of finding his way onto an NHL team’s roster:

“There’s some broader options overseas and you even see guys coming back to play in the NHL,” Meech said. “Definitely not giving up hope on the NHL front. That’s always been my goal to play in the NHL, but there’s going to be other options and I’ll just have to see how the future pans out.”

As for Johan Franzen, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan revisits coach Mike Babcock’s comments, which involved Johan Franzen returning to form after an inconsistent regular season and a playoff run in which he wasn’t the Mule that He’s Gotta Be:

“Mule is an elite player in the league,” coach Mike Babcock said. “He’ll come back in great shape and with a lot to prove and be a huge part of what we’re doing.”

A sprained ankle is never good in any sport, but especially in hockey. The level of discomfort makes you feel you can skate and play, but you’re effectiveness is compromised and the injury worsens every time you go on the ice. That’s what happened with Franzen. Instead of getting better physically, he was getting worse.

“We tried, and he tried, and every time he went out there, he got worse and worse as far as the injury went,” Babcock said. “In hindsight, should you have managed it different? Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But our medical people did everything they could. We tried a bunch of different things, and the Mule being the Mule, he wanted to play. That’s what we love about him. You want your best players to play, and we tried to give him the opportunity, and he tried to help us, and in the end, he wasn’t able to.”

Franzen, 31, is signed through 2020 at a cost of $3.9 million per season. He isn’t going anywhere. And despite the late-season struggles, the Wings have a tremendous amount of faith in him.

And no player on the Wings will be as motivated to justify that faith.

And then there’s this from RedWIngsFeed and 95.5’s Mojo in the Morning, Red Wings forwards Kris Draper, Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary helped the station raise over $7,000 as part of the Karmanos Cancer Institute’s Race for the Cure today:

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RWBill's avatar

Wings need to firm up the D to be a top contender, and I didn’t envision the return of Derek Meech to be part of that.  Good luck Derek, however, wherever you end up and thanks for your contributions day in and out that no fan ever sees.

Chelios says the Wings have big plans for Ericccsssson, taking the place of Lidstrom eventually?  Damn, I haven’t seen that at all.  Move him to forward and sign some defensemen, whatever the Stalinist cap will allow.

Posted by RWBill on 05/21/11 at 08:36 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

I thought Cheli clarified that he meant they expect Big E to play Lidstrom-type minutes…like 25 per game. But I could be wrong.

I am a little intrigued by the idea of letting him return to playing forward. I haven’t seen any indication, though, that the coaches have considered that.

All the best to “Meechie,” who maybe wasn’t outstanding, but who was always willing to help out in whatever way he was asked.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 05/21/11 at 09:59 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Correct. They’ve been calling Niklas Kronwall “Nick Junior” for a reason.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/21/11 at 10:10 PM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

Gotta wonder if Meech is going to try Toronto ... pair up with Phaneuf again like in their good ole Red Deer days ... hmmmmmmm

I wish I had gotten down to The Joe this past season to see some practices. Maybe I’d better understand why management is still so enamoured with Ericsson. He plays with zero confidence and is afraid to carry the puck more than 2 strides .. like he’s scared someone’s going to take the puck away from him.  At 6’ 5”, he doesn’t have to skate around people, he can skate THROUGH them.

Keith Primeau he’s not ... LMAO

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 05/22/11 at 05:29 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

The Wings didn’t open a practice up for fans that weren’t season-ticket holders this season.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/22/11 at 06:16 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.