Steve Ott on his emotion of joining his favorite childhood team, the Detroit Red Wings.
Traverse City – The Red Wings haven’t had, in recent seasons, a fourth line that can be annoying, feisty, and just plain difficult to play against.
But that might be changing this season thanks to Steve Ott, who signed a one-year, $800,000 contract with the Wings as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
The line of Ott, Luke Glendening and Drew Miller provides various strengths that could make them quite formidable.
“We’re not going to be fun to play against,” Ott said. “I really think we have a complete line to be able to shut other lines down, play a lot of defensive zone situations with two face-off guys who can play either side.
“We’re going to bring a strong work ethic that pushes other guys to perform at a high level, as well.”
Ott, 34, who grew up in Windsor, followed the Red Wings and always wanted to play for them. Since signing in July, Ott has consistently talked about his desire to play in front of family and friends.
“To put the winged wheel on is extremely exciting,” Ott said. “I said it from Day 1, it’s not a lie, it’s the truth. I’ve looked for this situation since I was a young kid and dreamed of making the NHL. If I could have that one spot, it would be Detroit.
“To have this opportunity later on in my career, it’s better late than never at all. I want to take full advantage of it.”
Ott began his career in Dallas, went to Buffalo and St. Louis, and has aggravated quite a few Red Wings over the years.
But, there’s no hard feelings either side now.
“You fight and battle the guys, they expect that out of you,” Ott said. “There’s no hard feelings. Things that are said in different years or situations, that’s just part of the gamesmanship and stays on the ice.
“It’s easy to gel with these guys.”
Miller and Glendening say Ott brings a dimension their line hasn’t had, the type of player who teammates love to have on their side but don’t like at all if he’s an opponent.
“I would think Otter would appreciate saying that,” Miller said.
Said Glendening: “He was a frustrating guy to play against. He’s been around the league for a long time, so he’s a good vet to have in the locker room. He’s a great asset to have.”
Although media and fans can often dwell on Ott’s rambunctious style, there’s also the fact he’s often been one of the best penalty killers and face-off men in the league.
Ott has won 56 percent of his face-offs for his career, and he’s played roles on some of the top-ranked penalty-killing teams.
Former Red Wings nemesis Steve Ott says there are no hard feelings with any of his new teammates.
“That’s something I take a lot of pride in,” Ott said. “That’s competing. It’s competing for your team and it’s competing in the face-off dot, as well. I’m a big fan of those one-on-one battles. When you do that, it pushes your team in the right direction.
“We have a lot of guys who battle the same way and I hope to be one of those guys to help the team in any way I can.”
Coach Jeff Blashill thinks Ott can bring one other important variable that’s vital on a team that is getting younger like the Red Wings. Ott can be the veteran presence who keeps a team loose, enthusiastic, and close.
“Steve can really help us in that area,” said Blashill of Ott’s ability to build camaraderie. “That might not seem significant to some, but it’s extremely significant.
“It’s something that carried us through the season in Grand Rapids, the camaraderie that was built through the year.
“I’ve already talked with Otter about helping in that area, making sure we have a group that’s really close.”