On Red Wings Veterans Earning a Roster Spot

Okay, this is old news by now but I was thinking tonight about the idea that Daniel Cleary will supposedly have to earn his roster spot and decided to look into some history around that kind of decision.

I think it’s safe to say you don’t give a guy a $2.5 million contract with the intent of dumping him in the minors. Cleary is going to be on the opening night roster, barring injury. So Ken Holland and Mike Babcock (and Cleary himself) saying he has to earn it… Just talk.

But lets say it wasn’t. Lets say the Wings were bringing back Cleary but that Tomas Jurco had just as much of a chance to make the final roster. Would that be as groundbreaking as it seems?

It turns out, yes.

In the Ken Holland era, no veteran has ever been waived at the start of the season in favor of a younger player who could be sent to the minors without passing through waivers.

Okay, yeah Cory Emmerton lost his roster spot to Joakim Andersson last fall but Andersson was out of waiver options. Patrick Eaves and Jordin Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson were all sent to Grand Rapids but not at the start of the season.

Derek Meech was waived and sent to GR in 2010 but not in favor of a player who wouldn’t have to pass through waivers.

Kyle Quincey was lost off waivers in 2008 but that was so the team could keep Meech and Chris Chelios.

Before that, we go back to the waiver draft era. Chris Osgood was lost in 2001 when Dominik Hasek was signed to replace him. Brent Gilchrist was lost and then re-acquired in 1998. In 1997, Tim Taylor was lost but because he was out of options, not because someone beat him out.

Not that it’s a surprise but history shows that veterans haven’t needed to earn a roster spot since Holland took over the team.

Defensive Woes

The Nashville Predators were winless coming into tonight’s game, and they were desperate. They were fully willing to take advantage of any slack the Red Wings might give them. They had some key opportunities to do so. Sloppy Detroit defense and an opportunistic Nashville offense led to a 3-1 win for the Predators.

A defensive lapse early gave the Predators the first goal of the night. Andreas Johansson got the puck away from the boards in Detroit’s zone. He managed to deke around Sergei Fedorov, then around Brendan Shanahan, and slid the puck into the net underneath Curtis Joseph.

The Red Wings got their first power play of the game a minute later when Greg Klassen was sent to the box for hooking, and they came back to tie with a crisp passing play. Fedorov held the puck in the Predator’s zone at the right point. He sent it up to Luc Robitaille at the half-boards, and Robitaille passed it to Igor Larionov. Larionov then angled the puck out to Nick Lidstrom, who slapped the puck past Mike Dunham to score his 150th career goal.

Unfortunately, the Predators scored a power play goal of their own less than a minute later, with Kris Draper in the box for high-sticking. Kimmo Timonen shot the puck from the blue line, and Adam Hall tipped it on its way through. With the redirection of the puck and the screen of players in front of the net, Joseph never even had a chance to see the puck before it was too late.

Still the Red Wings couldn’t get their defensive play together, and the Predators took advantage of it again. Andy Delmore got a pass through to David Legwand in the slot, and the rebound from Legwand’s shot was allowed to bounce free to Johansson standing unhindered near the side of the net. Johansson got the puck into the empty space before Joseph could slide across to stop him.

The second and third periods saw the Red Wings tighten their defense somewhat, but not enough to keep Joseph from having to make some spectacular saves. Most notable was a save in the second period against former Red Wing Brent Gilchrist, who got around the net unmolested, took a pass, and flung it at the net. Joseph flung himself across the net so the puck would land harmlessly in his midsection. Joseph also gave the Wings a chance to climb back into the game when he stopped a shorthanded breakaway attempt by Timonen. That time, he dropped his stick to slide across cleanly and keep the puck out.

The Red Wings got a power play with just over three minutes left to play, when Denis Arkhipov was sent out for high-sticking. They even pulled Joseph from the net to go six-on-four for part of the time. They controlled the puck from the start of that power play to the final buzzer, but Dunham came up huge against the barrage of shots, and the Predators came away with their first win of the season.

Dunham stopped thirty-seven of thirty-eight shots throughout the night, while Joseph stopped twenty-seven of thirty. The Red Wings return home for their next game; they will face the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday evening. The Sharks recently signed holdout goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to a contract, so they will be at full strength for this next meeting.


Sean Avery was recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins, but was a healthy scratch for this game”¦. Brett Hull suffered a severe cut above his left eye midway through the second period when a Nashville player’s skate came up and hit Hull in the face. Hull was led off and given a lot of stitches by Nashville’s team doctor, but he returned to play in the third period. “Just in time for Halloween,” said Hull about the bloody gash on his forehead.

Congratulations, Scotty Bowman!

The Red Wings gave Scotty Bowman a gift before leaving for the Olympic break: their 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild was Bowman’s 400th win as Detroit’s head coach.

The first period went quickly- there were few stoppages in play and only one penalty stop for a pair of offsetting roughing calls on Tomas Holmstrom and Jason Marshall. Both teams had quality scoring chances, but goaltenders Dominik Hasek and Dwayne Roloson kept the game scoreless.

Both the Red Wings and the Wild allowed shorthanded scoring chances during the few penalties in the second. The first goal of the game, though, came at even strength, with just over three minutes left in the second period. Luc Robitaille carried the puck low into the Minnesota zone and passed it behind the net to Steve Yzerman. Yzerman angled a pass in front of the net to Kirk Maltby, who slapped the puck past Roloson.

The Wild made very little attempt to outplay the Wings in the third, even though they were down by only one goal. Aside from some Minnesota breakaways notable only because of the great saves Hasek made to keep the puck out of the net, Detroit controlled the play.

The Red Wings put the game away with 2:38 left to play. Yzerman carried the puck from the left corner back towards the blue line, then sent a superb pass across the rink right to the stick of Mathieu Dandenault. Dandenault lifted the puck high and sent it into the net past Roloson.

Rather than risk the Wild pulling their goaltender and possibly sending the game to overtime with the aid of a sixth skater, the Red Wings kept tight control of the puck in center ice and in the Minnesota zone, and got the win to carry them into the Olympic break.

Shots on net were twenty-four to twenty-one in Detroit’s favor. The Red Wings’ will resume the season on February 26, when they go to play the Tampa Bay Lightning.

A total of eleven players from Detroit’s active roster, along with one prospect, will be representing their teams in the Olympics: Chris Chelios and Brett Hull for the USA, Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan for Canada, Igor Larionov, Sergei Fedorov, and Pavel Datsyuk for Russia, Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, and Freddy Olausson, as well as prospect Henrik Zetterberg (currently playing in the Swedish Elite League) for Sweden, and Dominik Hasek for the Czech Republic. This is more Olympians than any other team in the NHL.


Hasek’s fourth shutout of the season is the sixtieth of his career, making him the shutout leader among active goaltenders. Center Brent Gilchrist, placed on waivers to make room in the lineup for rookie Sean Avery, was taken today by the Dallas Stars. Manny Legace did not back up for this game due to a strained hip flexor; the backup goalie position was filled by Jason Elliott.

Stars Claim Gilchrist

When Brent Gilchrist was placed on waivers on Monday to make room for Steve Yzerman‘s return to the lineup, he knew it likely signaled the end of his career as a Red Wing. Today, that was made certain as he was claimed by the Dallas Stars.

Gilchrist had been with the Red Wings since the summer of 1997 and won the Stanley Cup with them in 1998. Prior to that he played with the Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers and Dallas.

Prior to being claimed by the stars, Gilchrist had stated, “It could work out for me really well. I could get a lot of ice time.”

Dallas made room for Gilchrist by waiving defenseman Dave Manson, who was aquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this season.

The Game Winner Goes To…. Gilchrist?!?

After a false start, the Red Wings regained their intensity and defeated Original Six rivals the New York Rangers 3-1 in the first of their two meetings this season.

Neat and tidy passing was a key in letting the Rangers sneak through a few holes in the Red Wings’ defense during the first period. The “Fly Line” of Eric Lindros, Mike York, and Theo Fleury was especially skilled at this, managing to take several shots on goal. Dominek Hasek rose to the occasion and used his acrobatic play to keep the puck out of the net.

After the first few minutes, the Red Wings re-found their rhythm and took the play to the New York end, creating scoring chances against goalie Mike Richter. Richter made a few tricky saves, showing why he was chosen as the netminder for the US Olympic team. Detroit finally got the puck past him with four and a half minutes left in the period.

Sergei Fedorov stretched out to keep the Rangers from clearing the puck out of the zone and passed it up to Brendan Shanahan, who sent the puck across the goal crease. Amidst the tangle of bodies in front of Richter, Steve Duchesne knocked it down so that Kris Draper could chip it up into the net.

Detroit continued their dominating play through the second period, outshooting the Rangers by a considerable margin. The Red Wings extended their lead by a goal late in the second. Chris Chelios gently poke checked the puck across the blue line away from a New York defenseman, and Darren McCarty brought it back in barely onside. He threaded a pass between some Rangers to Brent Gilchrist, flying up the left wing side. With a well-aimed wrist shot, Gilchrist put the puck past Richter and scored his first goal since October 25, 2000, ending a sixty-eight game slump.

The Rangers got their only power play of the game fourteen minutes into the third period when Igor Larionov was sent to the box for holding. Mark Messier fired on net from the right side. The puck deflected off the stick of Chelios, and Hasek couldn’t see it to stop it.

New York greatly increased the pressure after Messier’s goal gave them some momentum, and the Red Wings were hard pressed to contain them. Even so, the defensemen worked hard, and Hasek worked hard, and the puck stayed out of the net.

The Rangers were unable to pull Richter from net for the extra skater in the last minute, as the Red Wings regained control and headed up the ice. Chelios dumped the puck deep into the New York zone, and it bounced off a stanchion and straight to Draper coming in on the left side. Draper passed straight across to Fedorov, who snapped the puck into the net and put the game away.

Hasek stopped a total of twenty-six shots throughout the game, while Richter stopped thirty-two. The Red Wings will host the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night before heading out on a three-game road trip before the Olympic break.


After Friday, the Red Wings will not play another game at the Joe until March 6.

600 And Counting

Luc Robitaille scored his 600th career goal, and Dominik Hasek earned his first shutout of the season, as the Red Wings took a 1-0 victory over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

Detroit dominated the play in the first two periods. Robitaille’s historic goal was scored on a power play opportunity. 7:32 into the game, Anaheim’s Niclas Havelid was sent to the penalty box for holding. Brendan Shanahan shot the puck from the blue line, and Robitaille was on hand to tip it past goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

A fight broke out a few minutes later. Some Anaheim players took offense to Chris Chelios‘s hit on Paul Kariya, but Kris Draper and Brendan Shanahan were on hand to help their teammate. Shanahan fought his opponent, Dan Bylsma, down to the ice, and both were given five-minute major penalties for fighting. Shanahan currently leads the NHL in penalty minutes.

Thorughout the first two periods, Detroit had 22 shots on goal. The Ducks were only able to generate 11 shots against Dominik Hasek, in spite of two power play chances late in the second.

The Ducks kicked up their play for the third period. Hasek showed himself equal to the task, demonstrating his acrobatic skills on a rolling save to block a shot from Paul Kariya and a rebound shot from Patrick Kjellberg.

Chelios got into another fight near the end of the period. Kirk Maltby had dropped to the ice to block a shot, and an Anaheim player tried to whack the puck out from under him. Chelios came to stick up for his teammate, and he and Mike Leclerc were given offsetting two-minute penalties for roughing.

Anaheim pulled Giguere for the extra skater with 1:23 left to play, but the Ducks were unable to score.

Darren McCarty rejoined the “Grind Line”, playing in his first game since sustaining a knee injury against the Islanders on October 13. Max Kuznetsov and Tomas Holmstrom sat out, with injuries to hip and wrist, respectively. Brent Gilchrist, whose eye was injured by a high stick in Wednesday’s game against the Coyotes, also sat out, but Wings trainer John Wharton said the eye was not seriously damaged, and Gilchrist should be fine soon.

Hasek’s shutout was the fifty-seventh of his career, putting him within one of overtaking the Dallas Stars’ Ed Belfour for the lead in shutouts among active goaltenders. Robitaille is only the thirteenth player in NHL history to score 600 goals. He and teammates Steve Yzerman and Brett Hull make the Red Wings the first team in history to have three 600-goal-scorers.

The Red Wings will finish up their West Coast road trip Saturday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

Coyotes Not Wily Enough

The Phoenix Coyotes must have hoped to benefit from the World Series-winning ways of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the Red Wings showed them that maybe the desert is better suited for baseball than hockey, as the Wings won, 3-1.

Scotty Bowman made a few changes in the lineup, as is to be expected. With Max Kuznetsov and Tomas Holmstrom both injured, Mathieu Dandenault was moved back to defense, and forward Yuri Butsayev was recalled from Cincinnati to help out.

The first period went scoreless, even though Detroit had a four-minute power play opportunity just sixteen seconds into the game. Phoenix’s Brad May got called for cutting Brent Gilchrist‘s chin with a high stick. The Coyotes ran their penalty kill in a tight box formation in front of their net, keeping the Wings to the outside and allowing few shots on goalie Sean Burke.

Detroit had another power play chance late in the first, but this one would be a greater scoring chance for the Coyotes than the Red Wings, when Daymond Langkow was able to get off a breakaway shot on net. Fortunately, Dominek Hasek was alert and able to stop the puck.

Freddy Olausson opened the scoring with only 6:41 left in the second period. The Wings were shorthanded, with Chris Chelios in the box for tripping, but Brendan Shanahan got the puck and headed up the ice on the left wing side, Olausson trailing on the right. When Shanahan passed across to Olausson, Burke seemed to expect the puck to be passed back again, and Olausson was able to flip it into the net.

With just over 3:10 left in the second, May was given another double minor for high sticking, again on Gilchrist. The Wings were unable to score before the buzzer, but carried fifty seconds of power play over into the third.

Just five seconds after the power play had ended, before May was able to catch up to the play, Sergei Fedorov picked up a blue line pass from Nicklas Lidstrom and fired hard into the net from the right point, to bring Detroit ahead by two.

Kirk Maltby scored his first goal of the season less than a minute later. Chelios cleared the puck off the glass, Maltby picked it up, and fired past Burke from the right side.

The Coyotes answered exactly one minute later. Krys Kolanos stole the puck when Jiri Fischer mishandled it, and fired against Hasek, who blocked. May was able to pick up the rebound and slide it underneath Detroit’s goalie for his second goal of the season.

Phoenix pulled Burke for the extra skater with three minutes left, then sent him back in when the faceoff came outside the Detroit zone. They pulled him out again with 1:49 left to play. Just as the buzzer sounded, it looked as if Brett Hull had scored a goal into the empty net, but the goal was ruled down after review.

Hasek made sixteen saves on seventeen shots, while Burke made twenty-eight saves on thirty-one shots. Detroit currently leads the league in games, with a 13-3-0-0 record, and in shorthanded goals, with five. They continue their West Coast road trip in Anaheim Friday night.

Blackhawks Strong At Home

In spite of valiant play in the second and third periods, the Red Wings’ six-game road unbeaten streak was snapped Sunday by the Chicago Blackhawks, who won the game 5-4.

Chicago opened the scoring on the power play. While Sergei Fedorov was serving a penalty for slashing, Chicago’s Eric Daze fired on Dominek Hasek. Hasek blocked the shot, but Kyle Calder picked up the rebound and shot it into the net.

The Blackhawks scored again with just under three minutes left in the period. Daze shot the puck from behind the net and banked it off the skate of Michael Nylander, and between Hasek’s legs. As if adding insult to injury, the Blackhawks added another goal barely a minute later. On a two-on-one rush, Igor Korolev was able to get the puck past Nicklas Lidstrom and over Hasek to make the score 3-0.

Chicago’s penalty killing unit, ranked 27th in the NHL, had to go into action early in the second, when Daze was sent to the box for tripping. They were no match for Detroit’s power play. Igor Larionov passed from behind the net to Steve Yzerman, who fired the puck, and Luc Robitaille was on hand to sweep it in behind goalie Jocelyn Thibault.

Despite the energy generated by Robitaille’s goal, Chicago got the next two goals. Steve Thomas scored with a bouncing puck just ten seconds after the end of a Detroit penalty to Hasek (served by Brent Gilchrist) for delay of game by firing the puck over the glass. The next was scored by Aaron Downey with 8:46 left in the second period, and was the first goal of his NHL career.

Down by four goals, the Detroit bench pulled Hasek out of the game and sent in Manny Legace to take his place. Hasek, still recovering from stomach flu, had let in five goals on fifteen shots.

The Red Wings got a 5-on-3 opportunity late in the period. Jaroslav Spacek was given two minutes for delay of game for laying on the puck with 4:02 left to play. Just over a minute later, Tony Amonte was sent to the box for slashing. Larionov scored by shooting the puck from behind the net and banking it off the skate of Alexander Karpotsvev and into the net.

They continued with a 5-on-4 power play, since Amonte’s penalty had not yet ended. This time, Larionov passed to Robitaille behind the net. Robitaille got it out front to Brett Hull, who fired hard and beat Thibault for the goal.

Detroit held Chicago to only three shots against Legace in the third period, but was only able to score once more. With 8:22 left to play, Larionov won an offensive zone faceoff. The puck bounced free to Robitaille, who shot it past Thibault to score his 599th career goal.

The Red Wings controlled the puck for most of the remainder of the game. Even when they pulled Legace to send in the sixth skater, however, they were not able to beat Thibault again.

Chicago, with new coach Brian Sutter, has not lost a home game yet this season. Shots on goal were 29-18 in the Red Wings’ favor.

Detroit will continue their road trip with a game against the Phoenix Coyotes Wednesday night.

Belfour’s Best Imitation of a Wall

The Stars were hungry for a win, after their humiliating loss to Pittsburgh. They got what they wanted. Brett Hull and Pat Verbeek came up even with two assists each, in their first game against their former teammates, as the Red Wings lost to the Dallas Stars, 5 to 3.

With defenseman Uwe Krupp out indefinitely with an injured rotator cuff, coach Scotty Bowman moved Mathieu Dandenault back to the defensive line and brought in Brent Gilchrist to play forward. Gilchrist made a defensive play which kept a loose puck from becoming a scoring opportunity for the Stars, but was unfortunately given a penalty for holding in the process. Joe Nieuwendyk was able to get the puck past Dominek Hasek off a rebound of Verbeek’s shot, eight minutes into the game.

Dallas scored again just a minute and a half later. Jamie Langenbrunner shot the puck from the point, and Shaun Van Allen tipped it in behind Hasek.

The Red Wings got a power play chance with 6:09 left to play in the first, when Verbeek was sent off for interference. Between the Dallas players intercepting many of Detroit’s passes, and goalie Ed Belfour holding onto any shot that came his way, the power play was shut down, and the score remained 2-0.

With just under a minute left in the first, Tomas Holmstrom was penalized for high-sticking Brad Lukowich. Because Lukowich was cut by Holmstrom’s stick, the penalty was automatically a four-minute double minor, and the Red Wings carried that into the second period.

Only sixteen seconds into the period, Kris Draper was given a tripping penalty. With valiant goaltending by Hasek, and clever defensive play by Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, and Steve Yzerman, the Wings were able to kill off a full two minutes of 5-on-3 penalty.

Detroit finally got on the scoreboard with just over eight minutes in the period. Brenden Morrow had been sent to the box for tripping, and this time, the power play kept the puck in the offensive zone. Yzerman passed to Hull, who fired on Belfour. Hull picked up his own rebound and fired again, and the puck bounced off Luc Robitaille‘s skate and over the line, just as Robitaille was falling, and just before he knocked the net off its moorings.

Dallas managed to answer just over a minute later. During a tripping penalty to Steve Duchesne, Sergei Zubov fired the puck from the blue line. Hasek, being screened by Verbeek, was unable to see it, and the puck bounced in behind him.

With 2:25 left before the break, Holmstrom and Rob DiMaio were given offsetting penalties. Detroit would get to go to a 4-on-3 situation when Zubov was penalized for holding. Lidstrom made good on the power play, receiving a pass from Hull and one-timing a shot from the right point past Belfour.

Two and a half minutes into the third, Holmstrom was penalized for hooking, and Donald Audette was able to slide a backhand shot along the ice right past Hasek’s outstretched glove and into the net. The Stars scored again with just over eight minutes to play. Hasek came far out of the net to block a shot by Audette, and Pierre Turgeon picked up the rebound and flipped it into the wide open net before anyone could stop him.

Detroit made answer only sixteen seconds later. Draper won a faceoff in the Dallas zone, and Max Kuznetsov shot the puck right past the surprised Belfour.

Three and a half minutes before the end of the game, Jyrki Lumme took a tripping penalty and gave the Wings a man advantage. Bowman pulled Hasek from the net to send in an extra skater, and then the Stars’ Derian Hatcher took a penalty for cross-checking. For thirty-five seconds, the Wings would have six skaters against three.

It was not enough to get past Belfour, who made save after save to keep the Wings from scoring on him again before the game was over. Belfour and Hasek each faced forty-five shots during the game, and Robitaille and Yzerman were able to continue their scoring streaks.

The Wings begin a three-game road trip on Saturday, when they will face the Predators in Nashville.

Gilchrist to Return to Wings

Brent Gilchrist, the rugged Red Wings forward who battled injuries for two seasons before finally being healthy for 2000-2001, has accepted his option to come back to the Red Wings next season.

The 34-year-old Gilchrist will make $625,000 next season as a third- and fourth-liner and penalty-killer, as Detroit General Manager Ken Holland will not try to buy out Gilchrist’s contract.

“It was a very easy decision for Brent to make,” Gilchrist’s agent, Barney Harris, said. “Brent likes the Wings and likes the area very much.”