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Sunday evening Red Wings chit-chat: Tootoo, Samuelsson discuss frustrating seasons with Pleiness

This morning, the Free Press's Helene St. James pondered where Jordin Tootoo fits into the Red Wings' lineup going forward, pointing out that Wings coach Mike Babcock both lauded Tootoo's regular-season performance and stated taht Tootoo's essentially not the kind of player who's going to find himself skating during the playoffs lest he take an unnecessary penalty. Tootoo chose his words wisely while speaking about his situation with St. James, and he also did so while speaking to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:

“Playoff hockey is very intense and that’s my kind of game,” Tootoo said after cleaning out his locker at Joe Louis Arena on Friday. “Obviously you’ve got to make sure what you think is the right combination of guys in the lineup to win, and obviously I wasn’t part of that combination. But you never know, guys go down, things happen, there are a lot of ups and downs. Mentally, physically, I was prepared to be thrown into the battle.”

As Pleiness notes, Tootoo didn't play during the Predators' playoff win over the Wings during the 2011-2012 season (and he was benched after taking a costly penalty in the first game of the Wings-Ducks series), and issuing frustration-based comments regarding his benching helped pave his way out of town. Tootoo bit his lip a slightly while telling Pleiness that he more or less dealt with not playing as best as he could:

“Obviously, coming in here with all of the excitement and coming to a new team that I was looking forward to all lockout,” Tootoo said. “I thought with the guys that we have here, we did all we can do. Fortunately I was able to help the guys in the regular season win a few big games. As far as playoffs, every guy wants to play, but at the same time you have to make sure that you pay your dues, put in your time and wait for your call. For me I was ready to go in the first round, second round, it was just waiting for that opportunity. It was pretty much one day at a time.”

The Wings signed Tootoo this past offseason to a three-year deal worth $1.9 million a year.  He played in 42 of Detroit’s regular season games, registering three goals and five assists to go along with a team-high 78 penalty minutes.

“You come in with the right mindset knowing that you’re going to have a chance to play every night,” Tootoo said. “I kind of went through this last year with Nashville in the playoffs, not being able to play, but you know, you’ve got to go with what’s put in front of you. Obviously when you’re told that you’re not going to be in the lineup, I’m sure every hockey player can attest to this, it’s not a good feeling. We’re born to be competitive and play with our hearts out, and when you’re told that you’re not going to play it’s tough to swallow. But as a professional you have to be able to handle those situations.”

Tootoo, does indeed hope that heading to the East will increase his opportunity to make literal and physical impacts with the Wings both during the regular season and playoff time:

“They know what I bring night in and night out, and obviously next year we’re moving over to the East so there’s going to be a lot of differences,” Tootoo said. “I’ve only played in the Western Conference my whole career, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

“For me, it’s making sure that I’m physically and mentally prepared for training camp and the beginning of the season,” Tootoo added. “I let the business side deal with itself, and I’ve just got to make sure that I’m ready.”

Pleiness also spoke to another Wing who expressed disappointment about his 2013 season performance or the lack thereof. As Pleiness first reported, the walking injury that is Mikael Samuelsson battled a chronic groin issue, a broken finger suffered during a morning skate and a pectoral muscle pull/tear that may very well require surgical repairs...

So Samuelsson falls into the, "Maybe I shouldn't have gotten out of bed this morning...Since I pulled my groin during training camp" territory, and while Samuelsson told Pleiness that he believes that he'll be able to recover from whatever ailed his chest sans surgery, he did endure a nightmarish return-to-Detroit season:

Injuries saw Samuelsson, who may need surgery to repair in injured pectoral muscle, play just four games during the regular season and just five of the Wings’ playoff games.

“It was definitely a frustrating year for me,” Samuelsson said. “Once I thought I was fine, I injured myself again. It’s one thing if you have the same thing, but I had different ones. In my mind it was unbelievable, just fluky injuries that turned out to be kind of bad like this latest one.”

He suffered the pectoral muscle injury on March 31 and missed the final 13 games of the regular season. Returning for Game 7 against Anaheim, he reinjured it again and didn’t play against Chicago.

Samuelsson also suffered a pulled groin and broken finger this season.

“It’s going to heal over the summer,” Samuelsson said. “When I broke my finger in the morning skate, in my mind that should never happen, but obviously it was fluky. Everything seemed to happen to me this year. It doesn’t help that I’m not young anymore and it just doesn’t heal in a heart-beat anymore. When you start to think about it like that it was very frustrating. I wanted to come here and show that I can still play the game and have a very good year. But it didn’t happen this year.”

Like Todd Bertuzzi, who spent most of the season on the IR, Samuelsson has a year left on his contract ($3 million owed; Bertuzzi's going to earn $2.175 million and has a cap hit of $2.075 million) and a no-trade clause (ditto for Bertuzzi), so the Wings may or may not buy him out to alleviate their roster crunch up front...

Though it is entirely possible in Bertuzzi's case that he may have to make a hard decision regarding continuing to play that may place him on the Long-Term Injured Reserve list for the balance of his career with the Wings. His back issues and the pinched nerve in his right leg make Darren Helm's back troubles look like a walk in the park, and while the Wings value Bertuzzi's size, shootout abilities and his leadership (it certainly sounded like Bertuzzi was working very, very hard to keep Smith and the team's other playoff rookies on an even keel), but if he can't recover from his back issues, he can't recover from his back issues.

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Primis's avatar

The Red Wings maybe need an enforcer I guess.  I still don’t personally see that they do.  I miss Aaron Downey, a guy that could hit, fight, energize, and didn’t take dumb penalties.  They don’t, nor will they ever, need an agitator of Tootoo’s ilk though that is prone to taking dumb penalties and whose effectiveness is overblown.

I don’t feel sorry for Tootoo’s plight.  Get a skillset other than what you do currently, learn how to not take dumb penalties.. and maybe some team somewhere might actually dress you for a playoff game.  Until then, realize you are nothing more than a regular season sideshow.

As for Samuelsson, I find it frustrating that Colaiacovo takes the beating he does for being fragile while he actually plays a pretty physical game, all while Sammy hurts himself falling down in the corner in practice by himself.


Posted by Primis on 06/02/13 at 10:41 PM ET


Does Colaiacovo ‘take a beating’ or do people simply ‘state facts’ such as that he has never played a full season in the NHL?

Posted by Garth on 06/02/13 at 11:21 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Does Colaiacovo ‘take a beating’ or do people simply ‘state facts’ such as that he has never played a full season in the NHL?

Posted by Garth on 06/02/13 at 11:21 PM ET

I know he didn’t have to sit this year because he pulled his boob.


Posted by Primis on 06/02/13 at 11:36 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

I like what Tootoo brings but does have a propensity for silly penalties. If he could finally take care of that he’d be very desirable BUT we’ve got a guy that should make an impact in ‘14 with Callahan. A bit small but fearless and abrasive. Anyhoo, the team really needs a young version of Bertuzzi when we start playing East hockey next fall. Size, skill and intimidation. It’s gonna be a wakeup call if we don’t get a little bigger and more intimidating (cue Franzen running off the playground, leaving his ball by the big bullies)

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 06/03/13 at 08:54 AM ET


Posted by Primis on 06/02/13 at 11:36 PM ET

Good point.  Samuelsson, at age 36, had an injury plagued year for the third time in a career that spans over a decade whereas Carlo Colaiacovo, at age 30, had an injury plagued year too.  Except this was his sixth injury plagued year since the lockout.

I can’t imagine why anyone looking at the empirical evidence would ever think that Colaiacovo gets injured a lot…

Posted by Garth on 06/03/13 at 09:10 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

Garth, Colaiacovo was hit from behind (by Brunner no less) during the lockout.  I don’t know if you can really use it as a “see? he’s brittle” example when it was a dirty, illegal check that injured him.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 06/03/13 at 09:57 AM ET


Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 06/03/13 at 09:57 AM ET

I’m not using it as evidence.  I’m using the fact that he has missed significant time in every season he’s played except for one, and in the one I’m counting as not having missed significant time, he still missed nine games.

Posted by Garth on 06/03/13 at 10:33 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

I’m using the fact that he has missed significant time in every season he’s played except for one

so you’re not using it, but you’re using it?  interesting.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 06/03/13 at 11:42 AM ET


Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 06/03/13 at 11:42 AM ET

That’s right, pretend you don’t understand the point I was making.

Posted by Garth on 06/03/13 at 12:46 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

the point you are making is that he has been injured a lot.  so what?  you appear to be making the point that he’s not worth having on the team because this means he’s somehow fragile.  does it matter HOW he was injured when you consider whether he’s fragile or not?

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 06/03/13 at 01:11 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.