Howard glad to be back with Wings after uncertain summer

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Jimmy Howard

Detroit — Jimmy Howard wasn’t sure where he’d be playing this season.

As it turned out, it was in Detroit.

Heading into the summer, there was talk Howard would be traded, with Petr Mrazek the clear starter in goal.

But in a tight market with few teams needing established goaltenders — and three years and $15.9 million left on his contract — Howard proved untradeable.

“Not disappointed, that’s for sure,” Howard said Wednesday. “I’m happy I’m here. I didn’t really want to leave in the first place. My family loves it here. I love it here. I have great friends in the (locker) room.

“I’m happy to be back.”

Wings’ Helm, Blashill patch up their differences

When last season began, coach Jeff Blashill left the starter’s job up in the air, with Mrazek assuming control in late December as Howard slumped.

But after mid-March, it was Mrazek who struggled. Howard took over and helped guide the Red Wings into the playoffs, only to give up the spot again to Mrazek.

This season, Mrazek is the clear No. 1.

“It’s Pete’s job to lose, he finished the year in between the net,” Howard said. “It’s my job to push him, not only to make myself better but him better.

“Whatever my role is, that’s what my role is going to be. ... The approach I’m going to take into the season is just find ways to basically reinvent myself on the ice.”

Howard believes he has a better handle on what to expect this season, no matter what occurs.

“Not dwelling on it so much, just living in the moment,” Howard said. “When your number is called, go out there and play. You can’t control anything else around you except for yourself.”

In 37 games last season, Howard was 14-14-5 with a 2.80 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.

He started the first two games of the playoffs against the Lightning, losing both. Blashill then turned to Mrazek for the remainder of the series.

Howard could prove to be an important piece on the roster given the compressed schedule.

The Red Wings have 17 sets of back-to-backs, and essentially have a game every other night because of the World Cup of Hockey. Each team also received a bye week.

“The schedule is almost like we’re in an Olympic year,” Howard said. “It’s going to be very tight body of games each week. You have to be ready when you’re called upon.”

Twitter @tkulfan