February 22, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Stephen Weiss might skip trip to Grand Rapids, stick with Red Wings

Stephen Weiss: 'I'm starting to feel real good but it hasn't been that much practice time.' (David Guralnick / Detroit News)

Detroit – The plan was for Stephen Weiss to head to Grand Rapids and play a game before returning to the Red Wings later this upcoming week.

But plans change, and Weiss, recuperating from sports hernia surgery, will continue to practice these next few days in hopes of returning to Detroit’s lineup.

Weiss hasn't played since Dec. 10. Playing a game with the Griffins for the sake of conditioning and timing seemed like a good idea.

But then Weiss got ill during the Olympic break, his practice time was cut short while skating with the Plymouth Whalers, and skating with his Red Wings teammates was decided as the best course of action.

"I'm starting to feel real good but it hasn't been that much practice time," Weiss said Saturday; he has been skating with the Red Wings since Wednesday, when NHL workouts resumed. "First day with some contact was today, so we'll ramp that up a little bit tomorrow and we'll see what happens.

"I just think to get more contact, get the high-tempo practice, and being banged around a little bit and do more contact drills more than one day before playing might be smart."

Weiss might be ready to play in the Wings’ first game back from the Olympic break – at Montreal on Wednesday.

"That's what we're shooting for," Weiss said. "That's not going to be my decision. I might have to play a game or two (in Grand Rapids). But whatever decision it will be, I'll be more than ready to play in a game."

Big impact

The loss of Henrik Zetterberg to back surgery for the rest of the regular season will have an obvious impact for the Red Wings.

Zetterberg had surgery on his herniated disc Friday and isn't expected back for two months – which would take him past the April 13 end of the regular season.

The Red Wings think they can extend their 22-year streak of making the playoffs, although it will not be easy without Zetterberg.

"It's going to be hard," Tomas Tatar said. "We knew it was going to be hard even with Z here, and now it's going to be harder.

"(But) we have some potential in this locker room. It'll be a challenge for the young guys here, including me, but you want that (challenge), for something good to happen.

"It'll be fun."

Zetterberg's playing ability – and his leadership -- will be missed.

"His leadership in the locker room, in my opinion, will be an important loss," said assistant coach Bill Peters. "It's a substantial loss, let's not kid ourselves. It's your captain, your leading scorer, a point-a-game player.

"But now we'll get our heads wrapped around it and move on and find a way to play where we can successful as a group."

Welcome back

Tatar and Tomas Jurco returned to practice Saturday after a disappointing Olympics playing for Slovakia, which failed to reach the quarterfinals.

"We let down our people back home; I feel bad," Tatar said.

Both players, though, were impressed by the facilities, security and atmosphere around Sochi.

"I wasn't expecting anything to happen," said Tatar. "For Russia, it would be kind of embarrassing for the country it something would happen.

"Everything was real nice. I was so surprised how they built everything. People told me eight years ago there was nothing, and now it was all built up. It really was beautiful, and real safe."

Roster moves

Jurco, forward Riley Sheahan and defenseman Gleason Fournier were recalled Saturday from Grand Rapids.

Fournier filled out a roster for practice and will be returned to Grand Rapids.

What happens with Sheahan and Jurco will depend on the health of Weiss and Johan Franzen (concussion) and Jakub Kindl (sprained left knee).

ted.kulfan@detnews.com

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