Detroit – The news hit Niklas Kronwall hard last week.
Kronwall’s good friend, Gustav Nyquist, had been traded by the Detroit Red Wings to the San Jose Sharks.
Kronwall wasn’t shocked. He expected Nyquist to be dealt before the trade deadline. But actually seeing it come to pass wasn’t easy.
“It’s one of those things we know that comes around every year,” said Kronwall of the trade deadline.
What stung Kronwall about this particular move was his friendship with Nyquist. They’d been teammates for parts of eight seasons in Detroit, and being part of that Swedish core of Wings, had developed a strong friendship.
“For the first time, it was one of my closer friends that got traded,” Kronwall said. “It was not fun.”
Kronwall knows that if the Wings were playoff contenders, Nyquist would still be his teammate.
“We put ourselves in this position (for players to be traded), we allowed this to happen,” Kronwall said. “This definitely was not the most fun time. But it’s part of the business and I’m happy for him. It’s still one of your dear friends and you have a relationship that will carry on for the rest of your life.”
Kronwall has already spoken with Nyquist several times since the deal, which netted the Wings a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 conditional third-round pick.
“He knew it was coming more than likely, but again, it still doesn’t matter until it really happens,” Kronwall said. “It’s tough to prepare yourself if you haven’t been in those shoes before. It was tough for him.”
Nyquist has a legitimate chance to compete for the Stanley Cup with a deep and talented Sharks roster. Nyquist has no points, six shots and is a minus-2 in two games with the Sharks, going into San Jose’s game Sunday night against Chicago.
“I’m happy for him that he has an opportunity,” Kronwall. “They have a great chance.”
Kronwall spoke with general manager Ken Holland ahead of the trade deadline and expressed his desire to remain with the Wings for the rest of the season.
If there were teams interested – and reportedly, at least Toronto and Columbus inquired about Kronwall’s availability – Holland politely rejected any overtures.
Kronwall, 38, and in his 15th season with the Wings, didn’t want to go anywhere.
“It’s flattering; I didn’t really see that happening,” said Kronwall of other teams being interested at the trade deadline. “Definitely flattering. But I had a conversation with Kenny a few weeks ago and he asked me how I felt and I told him where I stood and how I felt.
“I told him this means – this is more to me than just hockey – being part of the Red Wings for all these years. It’s something few people get the chance to be part of and I’m extremely grateful for that chance.”
Kronwall hasn’t definitively decided on whether there will be one more season for him.
“We’ll sit down after the year and go from there,” Kronwall said.
Streak hits seven
The Wings saw their winless streak reach seven games (0-5-2) Saturday night in a 3-1 loss in Arizona.
The surging Coyotes, who’ve won six consecutive games, outshot the Wings 44-23 and controlled play for vast stretches.
The Wings did a good enough job to wipe out the stench of Tuesday’s embarrassing loss against Montreal. But it still wasn’t good enough to secure a much-needed victory.
“It’s still not good enough,” forward Justin Abdelkader told reporters afterward. “We gave them a lot of odd-man rushes and chances. We have to make sure we’re playing a lot tighter defensively and taking care of the puck better.”
Goaltender Jimmy Howard, after being pulled in three consecutive starts, stopped 41 shots.
“Jimmy made some real good saves, he made a lot of saves to keep us in the game,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We have to be better as a group.”
Any chance of a Wings rally was diminished when Arizona scored on a strange third-period goal for a 3-1 lead.
During a mad scramble around Howard, the goal horn blew and lights came on to signal a goal – though there still wasn’t one until forward Vinnie Hinostroza backhanded a shot with several Wings not totally sure what was going on around the crease.
“It was a weird play,” Blashill said. “The ref never blew the whistle, so the ref not blowing the whistle means the play continues.
“I would argue the horn and spotlight supersedes the whistle.”
Anthony Mantha played Saturday after being struck with flu-like symptom the previous two days. Mantha played 17:21, assisted on Dylan Larkin’s power play goal, was minus-2, and had one shot on net.
With Mantha able to play, the Wings sent Christoffer Ehn back to Grand Rapids.
… Larkin’s 27th goal gave him 62 points, one shy of his career-high set last season.
… Rookie Filip Zadina played 15:30 and was credited with one shot and one blocked shot. Zadina has yet to earn a point in his three NHL games.