As trade deadline looms, Wings focus on task at hand
Detroit — The final days leading to Monday’s NHL trade deadline isn’t easy on the players, specifically the ones rumored to be headed elsewhere.
For management, it’s not easy, either, trying to make the best deals possible — or not making a deal, at all.
But for an NHL coaching staff, it’s a unique week as well.
Not knowing who will be, or won’t be, in the lineup. Managing psyches, and making sure everyone is focused on playing and winning.
Coach Jeff Blashill has a tricky task this time of year.
“For the most part we’re going to go business as usual; that’s our job,” Blashill said. “Our job is not worry about speculation. I don’t live in a speculation world. I deal with facts, and I know the team I have available to me.
“That can always change. I spent three years in the minors, and it changed all the time for various reasons. But we’re able to compartmentalize and focus on the task at hand.”
Blashill is kept abreast of any possible player movement by general manager Ken Holland — a perfect example being early this week when goaltender Petr Mrazek was traded to Philadelphia.
Holland is mindful, Blashill said, of the job of a coach.
“He has the respect of anybody who has ever worked with him for 30-plus years,” Blashill said. “He has great respect in the hockey world because of the type of manager and person he is. He understands both sides of it. We have a job to do, and our job is to win hockey games and his job is manage for tomorrow and the future.
“I respect what his job is and he what my job is, and we go about our business.”
Speaking of the trade deadline, defenseman Mike Green (upper body) remains a question mark for Thursday’s game against Buffalo.
Green has missed the last three games, though he has skated this week and was optimistic he’d be in the lineup against the Sabres.
“I’ll know that answer (Thursday),” Blashill said of Green’s availability.
Green is the most likely Red Wings player to be dealt before Monday’s deadline. He’s a potential unrestricted free agent July 1, and has several teams extremely interested in him as a rental acquisition.
Blashill feels there’s no extra concern about playing, or not playing, Green with the deadline days away.
“Not for me, not for him,” Blashill said. “We’re in a business of trying to win hockey games, he’s in business to be the best player he can be, so for me and him the focus is 100 percent on winning a game against Buffalo.”
Blashill texted Tony Granato, his former assistant on the Red Wings and Team USA head coach, and Chris Chelios, former Red Wings player and assistant to Granato, after Team USA’s shootout loss to the Czech Republic.
“They were bummed, obviously,” Blashill said. “Their guys played hard. I heard Tony talk about when they started, they wanted to make sure they played in a manner that made people proud that they wore the USA jersey — and I watched them, and they played in a way they made people proud they wore the USA jersey.
“They have nothing to be ashamed of. They should hold their heads high. Shootouts are a tough way to go to end the Olympics. It’s the rules, it’s the way it is, and you go with it. That said, they played hard.”
Blashill, like many coaches and players, doesn’t mind a shootout to decide preliminary games, but not for a loser-go-home type of situation.
“It’s not for me,” Blashill said. “There’s been (memorable) moments, and I get it, but for me it’s too important to decide something like that. It’s the same as deciding playoff games in a 4-on-4, or 3-on-3. We do that during the regular season for a reason, you have time limits, and I get it, but losing and going on, I don’t see a reason for that.
“I’m not saying there’s no good parts to it. There have been exciting moments. But I wish for I what I term, real hockey.”
Sabres at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM
Outlook: The Sabres (17-32-11, 45 points) have the worst record in the Eastern Conference, and only have one more point than Arizona for worst in the NHL. ... Buffalo does have the worst goal differential (minus-55) in the league…C Ryan O’Reilly (18 goals, 26 assists) has been a steady contributor.