Red Wings' Martin Frk clears waivers, heads to Grand Rapids in 'horrible' season
Detroit — Martin Frk got his wish, somewhat.
Frk is going to get an opportunity to play hockey again, just not in the NHL.
Frk was placed on waivers Wednesday, but was not claimed by any other team by noon Thursday. So, Frk is off to the Wings’ minor-league affiliate in Grand Rapids and will play in the AHL, which is just fine.
After having only played 25 games this season, Frk just wants a chance to play.
“I just want to play, and if I have to go the ‘A’, I will go,” Frk said after Thursday’s morning skate. “This season has so far been real horrible for me. I just want to enjoy hockey. I don’t want to be here sitting in the stands.
“I’m excited to go somewhere where I can play.”
Frk, 25, has five points (one goal, four assists) this season, and has never been able to regularly crack the lineup. Other forwards such as Jacob de la Rose and Christoffer Ehn have moved passed Frk on the depth chart, with several more forwards expected to battle for roster spots next season.
General manager Ken Holland told Frk after the team landed from Nashville that he would be placed on waivers.
“I was actually happy and he seemed kind of happy, too,” Frk said. “He just said to me ‘I hope someone picks you up and gives you an opportunity somewhere else, but if not, just go to the ‘A’ and play there.'”
Said coach Jeff Blashill: “He hasn’t been in our lineup. He’s a great person, he works extraordinarily hard, but we just made decisions game after game where he hasn’t been in our lineup.”
Frk is a restricted free agent this summer, but isn’t likely to receive a qualifying offer from the Wings, which will make him an unrestricted free agent.
500 for Howard
Thursday’s game against the Senators will be the 500th career game for goaltender Jimmy Howard.
Howard became the 71st goaltender in NHL history to reach the milestone, and just the third to play in 500 games for the Wings (Terry Sawchuk and Chris Osgood are the others).
Howard became the eighth American-born NHL goalie to play 500 games.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Howard said.
Howard was a 2003 second-round draft pick of the Wings, but coming from a small town in upstate New York and just the difficult nature of cracking an NHL lineup at the position, Howard wasn’t sure what the future would hold.
“I just never expected it growing up a kid from a small town, just never expected … I always dreamed of playing in the NHL and didn’t really know the reality,” Howard said. “Doing it with the guys in this room and this organization, all with the organization that drafted me, it’s really special.”
Howard’s contract is up after the season, and he can be an unrestricted free agent July 1. Howard’s name has been prominently mentioned in rumors surrounding the trade deadline on Feb. 25.
But Howard reiterated Thursday he’d prefer to stay in Detroit for the rest of this season, and beyond.
“I’d love to stay here,” Howard said. “I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’d love to retire a Red Wing.”
Former Wings Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Murphy returned to Fox Sports Detroit as a game and studio analyst.
Murphy will work the remainder of the season, replacing Darren Eliot, who moved to Vegas to become vice-president of hockey programming and facility operations for the Golden Knights.
“I’m extremely happy to be back with Fox Sports Detroit,” Murphy said. “The fans in Detroit have been incredible. Detroit is home, and I’m excited to get started.”
Murphy will return to the booth alongside Ken Daniels on March 2.
Defenseman Dennis Cholowski is a healthy scratch for a second consecutive game. With the Wings healthy on defense, Cholowski is the odd man out.
Blashill said he’ll talk with the front office about the possibility of Cholowski returning to the minor leagues to play regularly, if Cholowski isn’t playing consistently at the NHL level.
…Blashill expects forward Tyler Bertuzzi (concussion) to return this weekend. Bertuzzi hasn’t played since Jan. 22, after getting hit along the boards.