Detroit — Few players on the Red Wings were as pleased to forget about last season as forward Riley Sheahan.
By this time, everyone knows the particulars.
Sheahan didn’t score a single goal all season — until the final afternoon, in the final game ever at Joe Louis Arena.
In fact, Sheahan scored twice.
To be sure, that was a relief.
“Luckily I had a few goals in that last game,” Sheahan said Thursday after the morning skate, on the dawn of a new regular season. “So, I just kind of built off that and put everything behind me.
“Now I just move on.”
Anxious, and determined, to never go through something like that again, Sheahan looked to make some changes.
Foremost was changing the look of his body.
“I slimmed down a little bit, lost some weight,” Sheahan said. “I wanted to get a little faster. Everyone is so fast in today’s game, I just felt maybe I was carrying around too much weight last year.
“(Otherwise), just keep on the same things, work on my hands, and my speed, that sort of stuff, and not get worked up about it.”
Coach Jeff Blashill has Sheahan centering the fourth line to begin the season, with Luke Glendening and David Booth on the wings.
Sheahan believes the line can be effective.
“The guys work real hard,” Sheahan said. “Boother brings a lot of skill to the line and makes plays and Glennie, obviously, is tenacious and hard to play against, goes in on the forecheck.
“We complement each other.”
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall (groin) skated in the morning skate but was held out of the season opener.
Blashill termed Kronwall as day-to-day.
Xavier Ouellet replaced Kronwall in the lineup.
Kronwall said Wednesday he was anxious to play, and would love to play in the first regular-season game at Little Caesars Arena, but wouldn’t risk playing one game and then miss several because of it.
“It would be pretty cool, but at the same time we have a lot more coming this year,” Kronwall said. “You don’t want to get caught too short-sighted. It’s a long season, and you don’t want this to be something that nags you for a long time.”
Blashill wouldn’t speculate on how the defensive pairings would look without Kronwall.
There promised to be quite a few Red Wings alumni Thursday night to see the new arena and several – including Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom — were at the morning skate.
“It’s always great to see those guys,” forward Tomas Tatar said of the former Red Wings. “They’re fun to be around, and it’s always nice to see them. Everyone is real happy they came here for tonight.”
Captain Henrik Zetterberg spoke briefly to Lidstrom and Holmstrom and received glowing reviews about the new arena.
“Both of them wish they chance to play here,” Zetterberg said.
Having spent approximately two to three weeks in the new arena, Zetterberg feels the team is getting accustomed to the new digs.
“You get more and more used to it,” Zetterberg said. “The first couple of mornings you’re halfway to The Joe before you turn (back), but now it’s our home and it’s beautiful.”
… Blashill wanted his players to fully take in the excitement of opening night.
“When you play in events like this, this is more than just a game,” Blashill said. “You have to focus on what your job is 100 percent, but enjoy the moment as well. Life is about moments, so enjoy it and focus on your job.”