Wings' Pulkkinen cleared for contact at camp

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Teemu Pulkkinen

Detroit – It appears Teemu Pulkkinen is a quick healer.

After having shoulder surgery in June, there was doubt Pulkkinen would be ready Friday for the start of training camp.

But Pulkkinen said Tuesday he’ll be cleared for contact in time for the first workout at Center Ice Arena in Traverse City.

“On schedule,” said Pulkkinen, who has skated with teammates in the conditioning skates the past few days. “They said four to six months but I feel pretty good right now. I’m hoping to play one or two exhibition games.”

Persistent pain, which peaked at the world championships in May, forced Pulkkinen to have surgery in June (he had surgery on the same shoulder in 2010).

Pulkkinen, 24, only played 36 games last season, registering six goals and six assists, as a separated shoulder (on the opposite one), after a collision against Phoenix December 3 forced him out of the lineup.

Pulkkinen never could reclaim his spot, and with a crowded roster this September, his future is uncertain.

“Just play hockey,” said Pulkkinen, as to what his mindset is. “I’ve been working out good, so I’m in good shape now. I need a big camp in Traverse City and the next couple weeks (in exhibition games) and to get in good shape with my skating and everything.

“We’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to think about who is playing and what spots are open. I’m just going to do my best.”

Sitting and watching last season was difficult.

“For sure it’s tough when you don’t play,” Pulkkinen said. “After the injury the first couple of months were tough when I wasn’t playing, and it’s hard to say, but you kind of get used to it when you don’t play.

“It’s not nice (to think about) but it’s another season and I’m going to do my best and we’ll see what happens.”

Pulkkinen remains an intriguing prospect because he possesses one of the best shots in the organization and has the ability to score goals.

But his lack of size (5-foot-11, 183-pounds) and suspect defense have been drawbacks.

“The shooting is fine, I’ve been working out hard, been lifting for a month,” Pulkkinen said. “We’re on schedule. Everything looks good.”

Horcoff hire

The Red Wings hired former Michigan State and  long-time NHL player Shawn Horcoff as director of player development late last week.

Horcoff’s experience in a variety of roles, said Blashill, will be a huge benefit for the organization.

“He was a first-line center, he was a team captain, he was a power play guy, all the way to learning to how to be a fourth-line center, a penalty kill guy, he can really help that perspective for a lot of our prospects,” Blashill said. “

Detroit Red Wings training camp

Where: Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City.

When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 9:30 a.m (drills, scrimmages). Monday’s Red & White Game at noon.

Tickets: Friday-Sunday, $10-$20. Monday, $20-$30.

Note: An alumni/celebrity game takes place Saturday night at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20-$25.