The National Hockey League announced on Sunday that the Detroit Red Wings would be shut down until at least after the league’s Holiday Break.
The Wings would be eligible to resume their schedule against the New York Rangers on December 27.
The move comes with the team announcing that forwards Sam Gagner, Pius Suter, and Joe Veleno has been placed in COVID protocol, along with assistant video coach Jeff Weintraub.
Robby Fabbri and Michael Rasmussen had been placed on the COVID list on Thursday. Givani Smith, Carter Rowney, Alex Nedeljkovic, and coaches Jeff Blashill and Alex Tanguay were added on Saturday morning. Filip Zadina was a late addition on Saturday, announced just before the Red Wings hosted the New Jersey Devils.
The team had only one game remaining on the schedule in the week leading up to Christmas anyway, a Thursday visit to the Minnesota Wild. Monday’s matchup between the Wings and Colorado in Detroit had already been postponed due to COVID concerns with the Avalanche.
The Red Wings join the Avalanche, Calgary Flames, and Florida Panthers as teams having been temporarily shut down.
As I said yesterday, some kind of league-wide shutdown seems inevitable at this point. There are over 100 players across the league in COVID protocol. This isn’t contained.
Cross-border travel was also cancelled through the end of the Holiday Break so no one would be forced to quarantine on the wrong side of a border for Christmas.
So it seems like the league recognizes that it’s not contained. But, to give them the benefit of the doubt, it’s also not contained in communities, so would shutting the league down actually do any good? I’m not an epidemiologist, I don’t know.
The Red Wings announced their 2021 training camp roster on Wednesday and, following the Tuesday announcement of Bobby Ryan joining the team on a PTO, there were no surprises on the roster itself.
Which means I get to move on to my favorite annual tradition: Analyzing jersey number changes.
Between returning players from last year’s roster, incoming players who had already had their numbers announced, and players whose numbers were revealed by Detroit’s prospects tournament roster, there weren’t a lot of surprises left.
The biggest surprise is probably Taro Hirose switching from #67 to #25. He’d previously switched to #67 after debuting wearing #53, specifically requesting a number with a seven in it, so switching to a number without a seven was unexpected, to me.
Additionally, Hirose’s switch makes Mitchell Stephens having picked #22 interesting. Stephens had worn #67 with the Tampa Bay Lightning and seemingly wore it whenever his preferred #27 wasn’t available. With #27 taken by Michael Rasmussen in Detroit and #67 vacated by Hirose, I’m surprised that Stephens went with #22 instead.
Two players making their returns to the Detroit organization also have some slightly-surprising numbers.
Luke Witkowski will wear #20 in Detroit’s camp after having worn #28 in his first stint with the Wings. I’d wondered if Gustav Lindstrom would give up #28 but he keeps it, and Witkowski’s usual alternate number #82 went to summer free agent signing Jordan Oesterle.
Dan Renouf had previously worn #77 in Detroit but that number is now assigned to Oscar Plandowski. In camp, he’d also worn the #20 taken by Witkowski, leaving him switching to the #21 made available by Dennis Cholowski‘s departure.
The full training camp roster is as follows:
The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of center Pius Suter to a two-year deal on Wednesday.
The deal reportedly carries a $3.25 million salary cap hit.
Suter comes to Detroit from the Chicago Blackhawks, who signed him as a free agent last offseason but did not give him a qualifying offer this summer, rendering him an unrestricted free agent.
Suter had a great rookie year – including scoring his first career hat-trick against Detroit – and I kind of love this pick-up, but I do worry that he could be Damien Brunner 2.0. Even if he is, though, this seems like a low-risk, high-reward move, the kind that Detroit GM Steve Yzerman has mostly done well with since taking over the Red Wings.