Johnson’s Physical Reveals Abnormal EKG

Greg Johnson’s return to the Detroit Red Wings will have to wait.

The former Nashville Predators captain who previously played with Detroit from 1993 to 1997 and rejoined the Red Wings as a free agent this summer failed his physical on Thursday. He has not scrimmaged with the team in the first two days of training camp.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland revealed on Saturday that the failure was caused by an abnormal EKG. Johnson, who was not available for comment, was reportedly surprised by the findings.

“I would think he’s surprised,” Holland said. “I go back again to the fact he’s 35 years of age and has been in the league for 12 or 13 years. I’d guess he’d be surprised by an abnormal EKG.”

Johnson is expected to see a specialist by Wednesday.

The Red Wings are being cautious with Johnson after defenseman Jiri Fischer went into cardiac arrest during a game against Nashville last season. Fischer hasn’t played hockey since and, although he remains hopeful, isn’t expected to.

Earlier this week, a heart abnormality was discovered during Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Konowalchuk’s physical. He, too, is expected to miss time in training camp to undergo more tests.

Detroit Signs Defenseman Markov

The Canadian Press reported on Wednesday that free agent defenseman Danny Markov has agreed to terms with the Detroit Red Wings.

Earlier in the day the Detroit Free Press had reported that the Red Wings were close to signing an unnamed “top four defenseman.”

The Red Wings will be Markov’s sixth NHL team and his fifth in the last five seasons. He entered the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who selected him in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.

Markov spent last season with the Nashville Predators. In addition to Nashville and Toronto, he has also played with Phoenix, Carolina and Philadelphia in a career spanning 472 games.

The deal is for one year at $2.5 million, a small raise from Markov’s last contract.

Markov will be expected to help fill the role of Jiri Fischer, who the Red Wings do not expect to return from the heart ailment that caused him to collapse during a November 21, 2005, game against the Predators.

“He’s tough to play against,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. “He has a reputation as an agitator, and he brings a different dimension to our team. He’s a top-four defenseman who can play a lot of minutes, and we expect he’ll be a good fit for our team.”

“Super Mario” Calls it Quits

Mario Lemieux, the legendary Pittsburgh Penguins owner-player, announced his retirement as a player on Tuesday.

“The time is right because I can no longer play the game at the level I’m accustomed to,” Lemieux said at a press conference. “I think the best decision is to retire as a player and turn the game over to the younger guys who are the future of this team and this league. It’s a young man’s game now.”

Lemieux had not played in over a month due to problems with an irregular heartbeat. A similar heart condition caused Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer to collapse on the bench during a November 21 game.

The condition did not stop Lemieux from working out, preparing to return to the ice.

“If I could still play this game I would be on the ice,” Lemieux said.

The retirement is Lemeiux’s second. He left the game in 1997 after several injury-filled seasons in the mid-1990s.

In 1999 a Lemieux-led group purchased the Penguins out of bankruptcy and he returned to the ice in 2000, becoming the first player-owner of the NHL’s modern era.

Red Wings Fall to Predators in Rescheduled Matchup

The Detroit Red Wings scored the same number of goals as the Nashville Predators on Monday night but came away from the game with a loss in what is likely an NHL first.

The Predators started the game ahead by a goal, having been credited for the goal that Greg Johnson scored on November 21 before that game was postponed when Detroit defenseman Jiri Fischer collapsed on the bench.

Johnson’s goal, with assists to Ryan Suter and Scottie Upshall, was the only statistic retained from the postponed game. Upshall’s assist becomes an interesting statistic, as he did not play in the rescheduled game and is not currently on the Nashville roster, having been assigned to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League.

Although approximately seven minutes remained in the first period that night, the clock was reset for the makeup matchup.

The Predators scored the game’s first true goal to take a 2-0 lead at 3:56 of the first period. Steve Sullivan took a long pass from Danny Markov to start a breakaway into the Detroit zone before beating Red Wings’ goalie Manny Legace between the legs.

The Red Wings responded just 40 seconds into the second period with a power play goal just seconds after a five-on-three advantage ended.

Robert Lang flipped a rebound shot on net that seemed to bounce off the padding inside the net and back out. In the flurry that followed, Pavel Datsyuk put another rebound off Nashville netminder Tomas Vokoun and in.

Lang was credited with the goal after the first review but that was later overturned and Datsyuk’s goal was left standing.

Just 4:35 later, the Red Wings evened the game with another power play goal. With the teams skating four-on-three, Mathieu Schneider fired a one-timer from the top of the right circle that beat Vokoun.

At 9:30 of the period, the Predators pulled back ahead when Scott Hartnell tipped a shot from the point by Kimmo Timonen past Legace with Nashville on the power play.

After a scoreless second half of the game, Hartnell’s goal stood up as the game-winner.

Detroit went two-for-nine on the power play and stopped six of Nashville’s seven chances with the man-advantage, including one five-on-three. Detroit had two five-on-three opportunities on the night.

Legace faced only 14 shots on the night, making 12 saves. Vokoun turned aside 39 of the 41 shots he faced.

The Red Wings and Predators will meet again Tuesday night, also in Detroit.

The game originally scheduled to be played in Nashville in place of this game has been rescheduled for March 30… Henrik Zetterberg returned to the Detroit lineup after missing two games with a hip flexor… The Predators are now just one point behind the Red Wings for first place in the Central Division.

Czechs Select Lang for Olympics

Detroit Red Wings center Robert Lang will make his fourth career Olympic appearance in February, as he was announced as a member of the Czech Republic’s men’s ice hockey team for the games in Turino, Italy.

The Czech roster also includes former Red Wing goaltender Dominik Hasek, now a member of the Ottawa Senators.

Defenseman Jiri Fischer, who was expected to be named to the team before suffering convulsions on November 21, was not on the final roster.

The four players from the New York Rangers are the most sent by one NHL team to the Czech squad.

The complete roster is as follows:

Goaltenders (3)
Domink Hasek
Milan Hnilicka
Tomas Vokoun

Defensemen (7)
Frantisek Kaberle
Tomas Kaberle
Filip Kuba
Pavel Kubina
Marek Malik
Jaroslav Spacek
Marek Zidlicky

Forwards (13)
Jan Bulis
Petr Cajanek
Martin Erat
Milan Hejduk
Ales Hemsky
Jaromir Jagr
Robert Lang
Rostislav Olesz
Vaclav Prospal
Petr Prucha
Martin Rucinsky
Martin Straka
David Vyborny

Fischer Speaks to Press for First Time Since Collapse

Three hours before his teammates were scheduled to face the Pittsburgh Penguins and three weeks since he collapsed on the Detroit bench during a Red Wings – Predators game on November 21, Detroit defenseman Jiri Fischer addressed the media about his near-death experience.

“Not too many people get a second chance like I did,” he said before breaking into tears.

He thanked those who were there to help him as he was sprawled out on the floor of the bench area, sobbing, “There’s people that you never forget.”

Fischer also thanked the community for its support.

“There’s so many people who sent me letters and that prayed for me,” he said has he broke down again.

He did not make any announcement about the future of his career, saying only “I would keep it to that I would like to return one day.”

When asked about his daily routine of late, Fischer responded, “The last three weeks… I get up every day… and I live.”

Fischer confirmed that he has not been – nor has he expected to be – cleared to play.

“Basically all the doctors… everybody… is trying to be as cautious as possible.”

“You’re not worried about anything else but being alive.”

Zetterberg Scores Twice as Red Wings Defeat Capitals

The Detroit Red Wings got two goals from Henrik Zetterberg and timely saves from Chris Osgood, leading them to a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals Friday night.

Zetterberg scored twice to pull Detroit into a tie with Washington.

With the Red Wings on the power play and 1:54 remaining in the first period, he scored to tie the game at one. Tomas Holmstrom stole the puck along the left wing boards in the Capitals’ zone and sent it to Zetterberg in the left circle. He cut into the slot and, as his passing lane to Pavel Datsyuk was cut off, wristed a shot past Washington goalie Olaf Kolzig.

He tied the game at two with a goal at 5:27 of the second while Detroit skated 5-on-3, knocking in the rebound of a long shot by Nicklas Lidstrom.

Rookie star Alexander Ovechkin opened the game’s scoring 5:23 into the first on a Washington power play. Jamie Heward fired a shot from the blue line that was kicked aside by Detroit netminder Chris Osgood. The rebound skipped past Bryan Muir and came to Ovechkin, who lifted it over the scrambling Osgood.

A shorthanded goal gave the Capitals their second lead of the game. At 2:54 of the second, Chris Clark beat Mathieu Schneider to a loose puck in the Detroit zone and sent it to a wide open Matt Pettinger in the slot, where he knocked it past Osgood.

After a non-goal by Washington – waved off by the referee as the goal light and horn went off – and a sprawling save on Ovechkin by Osgood, the Red Wings got their first lead of the game when Datsyuk scored at 4:01 of the third.

Datsyuk picked up a loose puck along the right wing boards and broke in on a 2-on-1 with Dan Cleary. Datsyuk jumped off the boards and cut into the slot, skating around the defenseman while moving in on Kolzig. The Washington goalie sprawled out and Datsyuk skated around him, putting the puck in the open net in a move similar to one that Ovechkin unsuccessfully tried earlier on Osgood.

Lidstrom added a fourth goal for the Wings late in the third, after they killed off a long 5-on-3 that saw the Capitals threaten to tie the game. With 2:53 remaining, he fired a shot from the slot that deflected in front of Kolzig for a power play goal.

The Capitals scored the game’s final goal with .4 seconds remaining on a long shot by Heward after the Wings defenders had quit on the play.

Osgood finished the game with 27 saves while Kolzig made 26. Both faced 30 shots.

Detroit went three-for-six on the power play and held Washington to only one goal on seven power play chances.

The Red Wings will be back in action on Monday when they host Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

It was announced during the game that Jiri Fischer and his doctors will hold a press conference at Joe Louis Arena on Monday at 4:00 PM. Fox Sports Net Detroit will broadcast live.

Postponed Nashville Game Rescheduled

The National Hockey League announced on Tuesday that the postponed November 21 matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and the Nashville Predators has been rescheduled for January 23, 2006.

As the two teams had been scheduled to play in Nashville that night, the original January 23 game has been moved to March 30.

The November 21 game at Joe Louis Arena was postponed with 7:30 remaining in the first period after Detroit defenseman Jiri Fischer suffered convulsions on the bench. He collapsed and had to be revived with CPR and an automated external defibrillator.

As the November game was postponed with Nashville leading, 1-0, the Predators will be credited with one goal to start the January 23 game. The full sixty minutes will be played.

“In reaching a determination as to how best to deal with this unique and extraordinary set of circumstances, our first consideration was fairness to our fans. We did not think it fair to ask them to come out again for only 47 minutes of regulation hockey,” said Colin Campbell, NHL Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations. “However, in light of the circumstances that led to the termination of play on Nov. 21, and after consultation with both teams, we also have decided that the rescheduled contest will begin with the Predators ahead, 1-0. A goal will be credited to Greg Johnson, with assists to Ryan Suter and Scottie Upshall. All other statistics will be expunged.”

Red Wings Bounce Back with 7-3 Win over Avalanche

The Detroit Red Wings had a lot of reasons to be down heading into Wednesday night’s matchup with the archrival Colorado Avalanche.

On the ice, they were on a season-high four-game winless streak. Of the ice, concerns about defenseman Jiri Fischer‘s health were still at the front of everyone’s mind. And just 1:30 into the matchup they had another thing to come back from, as the Avs already had a 1-0 lead.

Detroit was able to get past all of that and pick up a 7-3 win over Colorado, a win that comes at the time when it is most needed.

After Andrew Brunette opened the game’s scoring with a power play goal, Detroit took over.

Mikael Samuelsson scored the first of his four points just 48 seconds later, at 2:18. Jason Williams skated around the Colorado net for a wraparound attempt and picked up his own rebound as he skated along the goal line to Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj‘s left. He sent a crossing pass through the crease and Samuelsson was on the far post to knock the puck in.

Robert Lang scored on a two-on-one with Samuelsson at 5:32 of the second to give the Wings their first lead of the game.

Ian Laperriere tied it 2:22 past the game’s midway point. Alex Tanguay controlled the puck behind the net and sent it out to Laperriere, who blasted home a shot from the slot.

Detroit regained the lead on Dan Cleary‘s first goal as a Red Wing just 2:19 later. Samuelsson ripped a shot on net from the right circle and it was kicked aside. The long rebound came to Cleary in the left circle, who rifled it through the scrambling Budaj.

A power play goal by Brendan Shanahan put Detroit up by two with 1:30 remaining in the period. Nicklas Lidstrom fired a shot from the blue line that Shanahan tipped in front of the net, setting the score at 4-2 after two periods of play.

The Avalanche pulled to within one when John-Michael Liles scored at 7:14 of the third. Joe Sakic sent a pass from the right circle to Liles on the edge of Detroit goalie Manny Legace‘s crease. Liles put the puck on net and Legace got a piece of it but not enough.

With 4:16 left, another two-on-one put the Red Wings back up by two. Pavel Datsyuk made a quick move at the Detroit blue line to break past a defender and he and Jason Williams faced Budaj and a lone defenseman. Datsyuk got the puck to Williams, who redirected it into the net from the top of the crease.

Samuelsson added his second goal and fourth point of the night with a wicked wrist shot from the slot just 55 seconds later and Johan Franzen added a shorthanded empty-net goal with 54 seconds remaining.

Legace ended the night with 24 saves on 27 shots, while Budaj stopped 22 of the 28 shots he faced.

The Detroit power play went one-for-three on the night. Colorado, whose power play had been slumping of late, scored on two of their seven opportunities.

The Red Wings will be back in action for an afternoon game from Anaheim on Friday.

Jamie Rivers took Fischer’s spot in the Red Wings lineup and Kyle Quincey was called up from Grand Rapids to serve as an extra defenseman… Fischer was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon and has been placed on the 24-day disabled list. Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill expects the situation to be sorted out in a month to six weeks.

Holland: Fischer “doing very, very well”

At a press conference from Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland was able to make a positive announcement:

Jiri Fischer is doing very, very well.”

After twelve hours of speculation and uncertainty, Holland and team doctor Tony Colucci spoke to the media to provide what information they could.

“Obviously it’s been a tough 12 hours for our organization,” Holland explained.

Holland thanked the Nashville Predators for “their understanding,” in agreeing to cancel Monday night’s game after Fischer’s collapse. Holland had met with Detroit coach Mike Babcock and captain Steve Yzerman before asking the team if they wanted to continue playing.

The players were in no shape to continue but after visiting Fischer in “little groups,” they’re feeling better today.

“I think that’s going to get guys ready for tomorrow night,” Holland said. “I think we’ve gotta play the games and see how it goes.”

To fill Fischer’s roster spot, Holland speculated, “possibly we will do something, maybe call somebody up from Grand Rapids.”

Colucci spoke about the medical side of Fischer’s situation.

“Everything appears to be well right now, all his tests are coming back within normal limits.”

He explained that when he arrived on the scene – summoned quickly by trainer Piet Van Zant – Fischer was having a convulsion. Colucci worked to maintain an airway when he discovered that he couldn’t feel a pulse. He began chest compressions while Van Zant set up an automated external defibrillator and shocked Fischer. Colucci continued chest compressions.

Fischer was moved when he had a good pulse and was breathing on his own. He was stable upon arrival at Detroit Receiving Hospital and had an unventful evening.

“There’s no way to speculate what triggered it,” Colucci announced. “He’s going through further testing over the next few days.”

He described it as a “rare situation” and would not speculate on when – or whether – Fischer’s career will continue.

Fischer does not remember the incident, only his first shift of the game. The next things he remembers are being in the ambulance and being brought into the hospital.