Tomas Tatar misses Wings, but fitting in with Knights
Detroit — Tomas Tatar sort of knew it was coming, but when it finally did, it was still a shock.
When Tatar was dealt to Vegas on Feb.26, almost right at the 3 p.m. trade deadline, he wasn’t sure how to feel.
“First hour was real stressful,” Tatar said Thursday after the Golden Knights’ morning skate at Little Caesars Arena. “I didn’t really know what to do. It was the first time I was ever traded.
“It was hard to say. What should I pack? And for how long? Then I talked to the GM (general manager George McPhee), and I started to get calmed down.”
Tatar was traded for the Golden Knights’ first-round draft pick this season, a 2019 second -round pick, and a 2021 third-round pick.
Tatar had heard rumors he could be available for trade, but was trying to keep it out of his mind.
“You hear rumors all the time; it’s the hockey life,” Tatar said. “I was watching television, waiting to see if anything was going to happen. I knew a lot of deals finish after 3 (p.m.), so I was waiting a little while longer.
“When it happened, it happened so fast I wasn’t even sure where I was traded. Like I said I was watching TV and it (the trade announcement) came at the same time (Red Wings general manager) Ken (Holland) called, and then the TV (announced it), at the same time, so it was kind of funny.”
Tatar signed a four-year contract worth $21.2 million last summer, when he was a restricted free agent, and figured he would be part of the Red Wings foundation going forward.
But when the Red Wings started the season slowly, and missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season became more of a reality, Tatar felt he could be moved.
“When you sign those kind of deals you’re thinking you’re going to be here,” Tatar said. “But I knew we had to start playing better and unfortunately we didn’t, and that’s when rumors start.
“I was a little bit ready for it, that something was going to happen.”
Tatar has 17 goals and 12 assists (29 points) in 66 games this season, but has played in only four games thus far with the Golden Knights, with one goal.
The expansion Golden Knights lead the Western Conference (42-19-5, 89 points) and have been an incredible revelation, shattering expectations for the first-year team.
“They play fast hockey and they’re playing real well, so it’s not a surprise they’re very high in the standings,” Tatar said. “I’m just trying to fit in as best I can and chip in.”
Tatar didn’t get a chance to catch up with any former teammates Wednesday — Tatar attempted to clear up things he didn’t get a chance to at his former residence before being traded, and such — but he stays in touch with many of them.
“I miss, equally, everyone,” Tatar said. “We’ve been good friends there, so I had a lot of fun in the Detroit locker room. I still stay in touch with a lot of guys. It’s normal. Just the basic stuff, but tonight we won’t be friends for sure.
“I’m making new friends here, and it’s an exciting new chapter for sure.”
Good to see you
Tatar’s former teammates were eager to see him after the morning skate, and were anticipating playing against him for the first time.
“It’s going to be a little weird seeing him on the other side,” said forward Andreas Athanasiou, who was Tatar’s locker neighbor for the last two seasons. “I caught up with him a little a bit after the skate. He likes it over there and it’s a good opportunity for him.”
Gustav Nyquist has been texting with Tatar since the trade happened.
“Texting quite a bit the day he got traded and a little bit after, just checking in with him and how he’s doing,” Nyquist said. “It goes both ways. It’s hard for him to leave a team he’s been with a long time.
“We lost a good character in the room, a funny guy, but I wish him all the best.”
Coach Jeff Blashill was in Grand Rapids when the Griffins won the Calder Cup in 2013, with Tatar winning playoff Most Valuable Player honors.
“I’ve said it before, Tats is one of the favorite players I’ve coached, just a great guy,” Blashill said. “He’s a great competitor and a real winner.
“It’ll be different for our guys (going against Tatar).”
Blashill said forward Frans Nielsen (concussion symptoms) will be out through Friday’s game in Columbus.
Nielsen was hit by Boston’s David Backes, who earned himself a three-game suspension for the check.
… Goaltender Jimmy Howard is back in net to start against the Golden Knights after getting the night off against Boston — for at least half the game, before replacing Jared Coreau, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 16 shots.
Red Wings at Blue Jackets
Faceoff: 7 p.m. Friday, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Outlook: Columbus is slowly assuming control of the second and final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. … The Blue Jackets hosted Colorado on Thursday. … G Sergei Bobrovsky (28-21-5, .920 SVS) continues to lead the Blue Jackets.