Mike Green surgery shuffles Red Wings defense
Detroit — Ken Holland said Friday the Red Wings will not make a quick move to replace Mike Green, who is out for the season and scheduled for surgery on his spine.
Grand Rapids is playing three games against Iowa and Chicago this weekend in a continuing battle for the AHL playoffs, and those games are considered important developmental opportunities for prospects like Joe Hicketts and Filip Hronek, and perhaps others, who figure to be the first defensemen recalled from the Griffins.
Xavier Ouellet played 9:13 against the Capitals in eight fewer shifts than the next least-used of the six defensemen, Niklas Kronwall.
It has been a disappointing season for Ouellet, who long ago saw Nick Jensen surge by him and who, like Jakub Kindl and Ryan Sproul before him, served a long apprenticeship in Grand Rapids with the hope of making it in Detroit.
Green’s injury is also an opportunity for Trevor Daley to pick up some power-play time. Daley, who has demonstrated offensive punch in his career, got 1:42 time on ice on the power play Thursday, second to Nicklas Kronwall’s 2:59.
A little more playing time in an offensive role will likely be fun for Daley, as he returns to his hometown, Toronto, to play Saturday.
To help bolster the blue line corps in Grand Rapids, the Wings reassigned Libor Sulak of the Lahti Pelicans of the Finnish Elite League to Grand Rapids.
Sulak, 24 years old and 6-foot-2, 207 pounds, also played in the top pro leagues in Austria and the Czech Republic
Injured, Sulak is not expected to enter the Griffins lineup immediately.
The doctor who performed successful back surgery on Henrik Zetterberg four years ago will operate on Green.
And the status of the 32-year-old defenseman lends credence to the Red Wings assertions that they likely would have traded Green had it not been for the recurring neck injury.
Dr. Frank Cammisa will operate on Green’s cervical spine April 5 at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
The cervical nerves provide control and sensation to different parts of the body, including the head and neck, where Green had experienced pain and dysfunction for some time.
The recovery period is two months.
Zetterberg has missed five games in four seasons since his surgery.
Green leads all Detroit defensemen with 25 assists and 33 points, and trails Daley by a goal with eight.
He reaggravated what turns out to have been a long-standing injury, and missed seven games between Feb. 17 and Feb. 28, straddling the trade deadline.
The Red Wings said that teams interested in Green, including the Lightning and Capitals, were told the injury could be reaggravated when Green returned to play. That happened in practice Wednesday.
“It goes back to a year ago, and he’s played through it,” Jeff Blashill said. “We knew at some point this was inevitable.
“There’s different times throughout the year where if he took the wrong hit, it created the symptoms. He was playing a real good game in Tampa right before the trade deadline and he took the wrong hit and it created the symptoms.
“You know, I know there was some wondering why Green wasn’t traded. Well, this was why. Because teams knew if he took the wrong hit, he might be out.”
FEELING THE DRAFT
For a second consecutive season, the Red Wings are out of the playoffs.
It is the first time in 35 years that has occurred.
They were out in 1981-82 and in 1982-83. They drafted Steve Yzerman two months later.
When asked in his first postgame interview of the season after the Red Wings were eliminated what the team needs to change to return to prominence, Henrik Zetterberg said, “Well, a lot of things, I think.
“But we all know we’re in a transition here, with some younger players coming in. And all the teams go through it eventually.
“It’s hard to go after, trade or sign a good player nowadays,” the Red Wings captain said. “You have to go through your own system.
“And so we’ve got to get lucky in drafts. We’ve got a lot of picks. And then we’ve just got to try to keep the traditions that are high here, and keep working hard and doing the right things and eventually it will turn around.”