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Ferraro's patience, hard work pay off

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Talk about how life can change in one phone call.

Just before the final weekend of the regular season, Landon Ferraro got the call — he was joining the Red Wings from Grand Rapids.

It wasn't a shock — teams that clinch a playoff spot typically rest their veterans the last few games.

But this call-up wasn't a taste of the NHL. It was more.

Ferraro showed a dimension of speed and checking ability that intrigued coach Mike Babcock. And knowing the Red Wings were about to play a speedy Tampa Bay team in the first round, Babcock saw Ferraro as an asset.

"I was getting ready for our playoffs in Grand Rapids, then all of a sudden I'd matched my regular season total three games (played in the NHL) into the playoffs," Ferraro said. "Now it's about making sure I'm ready for the next game and try not to think too much about everything."

Ferraro, in his fourth season at Grand Rapids, scored a career-high 27 goals, and with some added strength, played a more aggressive game.

He was one of the final cuts in training camp, and could have been picked up on waivers by any other team.

But instead of sulking, Ferraro went to Grand Rapids and continued to develop.

"He's been around for a long time and he's had some ups and downs," Babcock said. "He's a real good skater, he scored 27 goals in the American League, (all) even strength, so he has a dimension.

"He can shoot the puck. He's physical, and he's real fast. We've had a lot of transition over the last few years with young players and he's one of those guys that looks like he could be part of the lineup for a while."

Ferraro follows the likes of Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader and Jonathan Ericsson, among others, who received their NHL baptism largely in the playoffs rather than in the regular season.

Ferraro wouldn't mind being the latest.

"You look at (Darren Helm) and (Justin Abdelkader), that's really how they got their starts," Ferraro said. "It's a great opportunity for me and I'm going to do the best I can."

Ferraro, meanwhile, has fit in nicely with linemates Luke Glendening and Drew Miller.

"I like how they play," Ferraro said. "It's straight-forward hockey. Not a lot of cutbacks, weaving up the ice. It's get to the red line and get it in, just skate and use our feet as much as we can and get some hits.

"Just keep it simple. That's how I like playing."