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Red Wings sign Mike Commodore

Updated 8x at 6:48 PM: Well, then. Ronald McDonald’s headed to Detroit, as he himself insinuated on Twitter—repeatedly:

The Red Wings have agreed to terms with @commie22 on a one-year deal.

That’s Mike Commodore, who was bought out by Columbus.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie says one year, one million:

As per @GMillerTSN, one year, $1M for Mike Commodore in Detroit.

I guess he and Mike Babcock will bury the hatchet….

Update: As Nicholas J. Cotsonika suggests...

Good value for Red Wings getting D Mike Commodore for one year at $1 million. He’ll be motivated to reestablish himself. Low price, risk.

The Production Line did call it, but more than a few of my Twitter pals suggested that Commodore himself was telling everyone within keyboard shot that he was coming here.

Update: Per Brian Hedger:

So, Commodore to the #Redwings, coached by Babcock ought to be interesting dynamic.
To refresh, Commodore on Babcock trading him in 2003: “Mike Babcock was without a doubt an obstacle in my career.”
More Commodore on Babcock: “I wanted to prove him wrong, I’m not going to lie ... I thought he put his best foot forward to bury me.”

MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms:

The Detroit Red Wings have signed defenseman Mike Commodore to a one-year deal for $1 million.

He was recently bought out of his contract by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Interesting signing, since Commodore has had issues with Red Wings coach Mike Babcock when they were in Anaheim, publicly ripping him a couple of years ago when he played for the Blue Jackets.

Update #2: Per the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness:

The Wings have signed former Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Mike Commodore to a one-year deal with $1 million. The deal adds depth to the Wings’ blueline.

The big question is his relationship with coach Mike Babcock.

“Mike Babcock was without a doubt an obstacle in my career,” Commodore told The Columbus Dispatch back in January of 2009.

Babcock dealt Commodore from Anaheim to Calgary in 2003.

“I wanted to prove him wrong, I’m not going to lie,” Commodore continued. “I used him as big-time motivation. I thought he put his best foot forward to bury me.”

“The only thing I ever questioned about Mike was his conditioning,” Babcock told the paper. “In my mind, Mike always has been a quality guy. When he came up, I didn’t think he was in condition. That’s it.”

Update #3: The Free Press’s Helene St. James confirms:

The Red Wings have beefed up their blueline by signing veteran Mike Commodore to a one-year deal worth $1 million.

A few seasons ago, Commodore took some verbal shots at Wings coach Mike Babcock over how Babcock treated Commodore when both were with Anaheim.

In January of ’09, Commodore told the Columbus Dispatch, “Mike Babcock was without a doubt an obstacle in my career,” and then adding that he was motivated to become a better player because of Babcock’s role in trading Commodore from the Ducks to the Flames in ’03. ““I wanted to prove him wrong, I’m not going to lie. I used him as big-time motivation. I thought he put his best foot forward to bury me.”

Commodore, 31, is 6-foot-4, 233 pounds. He’s a defensive defenseman who could be a nice fit next to Niklas Kronwall.

This signing increases the Wings’ defense to Commodore, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl. Brendan Smith, the 2007 first-round draft pick, will also be given a chance to make the ’11-12 team.

Update #4: Here’s the Wings’ press release;


...Veteran Blue-liner Captured Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006…

Detroit, MI… Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland announced today that the club has signed defenseman Mike Commodore to a one-year contract.  In accordance with team policy, additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Commodore, 31, was originally a second-round pick (#42 overall) of the New Jersey Devils in the 1999 National Hockey League Entry Draft.  He spent the past three seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, splitting time in 2010-11 between Columbus (20 games) and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Springfield Falcons (11 games).  The Fort Saskatchewan, AB, native has played in 454 career games for the Devils, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes and Blue Jackets during his 10-year NHL career.  Commodore’s career totals include 23 goals, 81 assists, 104 points and 645 penalty minutes.  The 6-4, 225-lb. defenseman has also appeared in 53 career postseason games.  He went to his first Stanley Cup Final as a member of the Calgary Flames in 2004.  The Flames lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Commodore would return to the Final again in 2006 and helped the Carolina Hurricanes capture hockey’s ultimate prize with a seven-game series win over the Edmonton Oilers.

Update #5: Here’s what Commodore had to say to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose about signing with Detroit:

“I’m in the process of going from Kelowna to San Diego where I go every summer to train for awhile,” Commodore said, “and I wasn’t expecting anything. Not a phone call. Not a nothing. I had a lunch set-up with a friend of mine and the phone rang, and it was my agent, who said, ‘Detroit’s called.’ I almost crashed my truck.”
“I’ve had a tough couple of years,” said Commodore, who split last season between Columbus and its AHL affiliate. “I had a great year two years ago, my first year in Columbus. My next year was injury-filled with bad groins and I played like 60 games and only five when I was healthy. Then last year and that whole debacle there. … It just didn’t work out.”

He apparently got the itch to possibly play for Detroit while playing alongside Ken Holland in a charity golf tournament last summer…

“I was fortunate enough to have golfed in Ken’s golf tournament last year and that was my first experience with him,” said Commodore, of Holland. “I had a great time. Obviously, the hockey side speaks for itself; I don’t need to pump his tires. He’s made some great decisions and has had wonderful success. But as a person, he was fantastic and I enjoyed being around him for those couple of days. From that experience, I knew that I would love to play for him some day.”

And Commodore hopes to fit in as both a right-handed shooter…

“I think that was kind of a need,” Commodore said. “There was a shortage this summer of right-handed defensemen that were available. So that worked out for me; thank God I’m right-handed.”

And as a physical force…

At 6-foot-5 and more than 230-pounds, Commodore gives the Wings four defensemen that are 6-2 or taller. He has been a top shut-down defenseman in the past, who can still log a lot of minutes both at even-strength and on the penalty-kill. He’s a solid defender and a steady presence at clearing the puck out of his own zone. And all Commodore is looking for is a fresh start to jump-start his career.

“I’m at a point in my career where I’d like to play and be an affective player for a few more years if I can,” he said. “I need to start this year and this will be a good opportunity to get back on track.”

And the whole playing with Nick Lidstrom possibility doesn’t hurt, either:

“To be honest, there were a lot of things that made this decision very easy,” Commodore said. “But playing with (Lidstrom) certainly crossed my mind. If I’m fortunate enough to skate a couple of shifts with him then that would be spectacular. After all, he’s one of the best – if not the best – defenseman who has ever played the game. All of those guys on that team have been very successful. I’m just looking to fit in and do what I can.”

Update #6: Commodore spoke to the Free Press’s Helene St. James about Babcock...

General manager Ken Holland reached out to Commodore’s agent a few hours after the market opened at noon today, and got a deal done within minutes.

The terms of the Commodore deal carry little risk for the Wings, who in turn get a 6-foot-4, 233-pound defensive defenseman to shore up the third pairing.

Commodore, 31, has a history with Wings coach Mike Babcock that dates back to when Babcock coached Anaheim’s AHL affiliate and had Commodore as a player.

Babcock spurred Commodore being traded to the Calgary Flames. Back in ’09, Commodore publicly accused Babcock of having being an obstacle in Commodore’s career. The memory of those remarks prompted Commodore to call Babcock this afternoon.

“I talked to him today for a few minutes,” Commodore said. “In all honesty, that was the only thing that - I don’t want to say it was an issue, but it was concern. I was assured by Mike that it wasn’t a big deal. For me, it’s water under the bridge. I just wanted to make sure I’d get a fair shot, and that was assured. I’m looking forward to playing for him. I want to be a good soldier. I’m really excited about this opportunity, and want to make the best of it.”

As well as the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:

Mike Commodore was on a plane to southern California Friday, ready to begin off-season training, and didn’t expect to be signed by any NHL team. Commodore was hoping to be picked up by a team in August. Then the Red Wings called, and 15 minutes later, Commodore was a Wing.

“It came together pretty quick,” said Commodore, 31, a defenseman, who signed a 1-year contract worth $1 million. “I didn’t expect to be signed by the Red Wings today. But I’m definitely excited to be part of this organization. I have a lot of respect for (general manager) Ken Holland, and the coaching staff, and the players they have here. I’m ecstatic.”

Commodore is definitely familiar with coach Mike Babcock. The two were together in Anaheim when Commodore was a minor leaguer trying to earn a spot with the Ducks. He never did, and when Commodore was with Columbus two seasons ago, he verbally ripped Babcock in an article.

“That happened 8 or 9 years ago (the time in Anaheim) and that’s water under the bridge,” Commodore said. “We’ve both won Stanley Cups since then (Commodore in 2006 with Carolina) and moved on from that.”

Commodore said he’s already spoken with Babcock regarding the article and wishes he would have handled the situation differently. Commodore became available after recently being bought out of the final two seasons of a 5-year contract worth over $18 million with the Blue Jackets.

“The opportunity wasn’t there,” said Commodore, who never seemed to win the confidence of Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel. “It was time to move on.”

Update #7: Holland on his moves via the AP’s Larry Lage:

“Jonathan Ericsson has made significant strides with us over the last three years,’’ general manager Ken Holland said. “We believe in his abilities, we like the physical dimension that he brings to our team and we look for his continued progression as a player over the next few seasons as he enters into the prime of his career.’‘

Eaves is coming off a season in which he had 13 goals and seven assists in 63 games for the Red Wings.

“All three guys are 27 years of age,’’ Holland said of the three returning players. “All three of them, I think, their best years are ahead of them.’‘

Commodore, who signed a one-year deal, joins his sixth NHL team. He played 20 games for Columbus last season. He asked for a trade and was waived, but at the time, his contract made it hard for other teams to pick him up.

“We think he’s going to give us some presence on the back end,’’ Holland said. “(Coach) Mike Babcock is excited to have him. He’s a pro. He’s been around the game.’‘

Via RedWingsFeed on Twitter, here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan on Commodore, who was told that he had 15 minutes to decide whether he would become a Red Wing:

“My heart rate went from resting to 180,’’ Commodore, 31, said. “It was like, ‘Wow! I wasn’t prepared for that. I sat in my truck, put it in park and thought about it for two minutes. It’s a no-brainer. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to play for this organization. If someone would have told me last year you’d be playing for the Detroit Red Wings I would have laughed at them.’‘
“I have something to prove,’’ Commodore said. “It’s been a tough couple of years in Columbus. I’m looking forward to proving myself.’‘

Again, about the Babcock comment…

“It was something I thought about a little bit (before deciding),’’ Commodore said. “That happened a long time ago. It’s water under the bridge. I’d like another opportunity to play for (Babcock). He was a first-year coach in the NHL, I was trying to break into the league. We’ve both come a long ways.’‘

As it turns out, Babcock likes the concept of Commodore playing as the team’s #6 defenseman:

“We had him earmarked for two weeks,’’ Babcock said. “We like his size and he’s physical. He’s a perfect fit for our team. He’ll support his teammates, he’ll work hard on people. If he’s paired with (young) Jakub Kindl, he’ll help him.’‘

Commodore, who played regularly on Carolina’s Stanley-Cup winning team in 2006 and the Flames team that lost to Tampa Bay in the 2004 Cup finals, said he’s excited to play for a talented puck-possession team.

“I’m not a rushing defenseman but can hold my own moving the puck. I look forward to getting the puck to (the forwards), kill penalties, block shots,’’ Commodore said. “That’s one thing Ken and Babs said the Wings needed—someone to be hard to play against.’‘

And here’s what Ken Holland expects of him:

“He’s helped Carolina and Calgary in playoff runs,’’ Holland said. “He’ll work the front of the net to move people out. He’s a good guy on the third pair, got a presence to him. If we put him in the right situation, he’ll play good hockey for us.’‘

Update #6.5: Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner states the obvious:

Most appealing about Commodore is that he brings size—6-foot-4, 225 pounds—and a right-handed shot. He could see some spot duty on the point during the power play. 

Although Commodore is not an offensive threat, he’ll provide the Wings with a stable veteran presence on defense if he can stay healthy.

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