Trading Andreas Athanasiou stings for Red Wings teammates left behind
Detroit — This was a bit different, one of the players who many expected to be part of the Red Wings’ core going forward, getting traded.
When Andreas Athanasiou was dealt at Monday’s trade deadline, it was taking a piece from that supposed foundation.
And for Dylan Larkin, it was a bit jarring.
“You see it, it’s your buddy, a guy I came into the league with, roommates our rookie year, he’s a great player,” Larkin said of his friendship with Athanasiou. “He just couldn’t get it going this year. It’s the business of it.
“It does open your eyes; a little bit of a wake-up call.”
Larkin reached out to both Athanasiou and Mike Green, who were traded to Edmonton in separate deals.
“Both are pretty close buddies and it’s tough, it’s the business of hockey in the NHL,” Larkin said. “Both great guys and great players who’ll do great in Edmonton.”
Larkin said Athanasiou “was pretty shaken up” but was excited about the opportunity with the Oilers.
“The reality of it is he didn’t want to be moved, he was comfortable here, we had a good group and he fit in with us,” Larkin said. “But he has a great opportunity and he knows that. He’s excited for that opportunity. The weapons he has up front, he’ll fit in nice there.”
There is a human side, coach Jeff Blashill said, when a trade happens and teammates are replaced.
“I’ve had conversations with some of the guys and conversations with more as we move through the day,” Blashill said. “The one thing players seem to know these days, they understand the business side of it and it’s part of it. To say there’s no emotion would be lying.
“Our job is to compartmentalize it and play to the best of our ability.”
The key now, Blashill said, echoing general manager Steve Yzerman’s comments Monday, is to go forward in the final 17 games and finish strong.
Jobs and careers are on the line, with new contracts and positions for next season, and management and the coaching staff will be watching.
“We’ve certainly talked about it; there’s tons to play for,” Blashill said. “Steve mentioned pride and in wearing the jersey is part of it, but also the job side of it.
“A whole group of guys that want to be, and need to be, the long-term solution getting better and are going to take steps one way or another the rest of the season. Our focus will be on continuing to get better.”
Defenseman Cody Goloubef, claimed off waivers Friday from Ottawa, took part in the morning skate and was scheduled to be in Tuesday’s lineup against New Jersey.
“I’m excited; it’s another opportunity to showcase yourself, and just a cool organization that has a lot of history behind it,” Goloubef said.
Blashill wasn’t originally going to put Golubef in the lineup. But, given injuries throughout the lineup, Goloubef was going to play, “just not a ton."
Goloubef, who played in 24 games with Ottawa and is an unrestricted free agent after this season, was excited to show what he can do.
“Anytime you step on the ice, no matter where you are, you do your best and play as hard as you can,” Goloubef said. “You’re trying to showcase yourself and do the best you can. This is another opportunity to go out there and do the best I can.”
Goloubef feels joining a team this late in the season can be good for both sides.
“Get to know everybody and bring a fresh energy,” Goloubef said. “Something new, new conversation, new face, it’s good for guys, so it’s only as hard as you make it (for the guy joining the team). If you dive into it with two feet, you get to know everybody, and it’s a pretty easy transition.”
The reports on Goloubef to Blashill have been positive.
“He’s a good all-around player,” Blashill said. “If he can go out and make good decisions and compete and get the puck to our forwards, he can help us. He adds depth on defense and competition on defense the rest of the way.”
Blashill said newly acquired forwards Sam Gagner and Dmytro Timashov are being held up by visa issues.
Blashill doesn’t think Gagner’s situation will take too long, but Timashov “has a bigger uphill battle with immigration, with the fact he’s Ukraine and he has a Swedish passport, so that one will be longer. I expect Sam will be much quicker.”
… Blashill didn’t expect forward Adam Erne to be available Tuesday, so the Wings are likely to play with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
… Goloubef was college roommates with former Wings defenseman Brendan Smith at Wisconsin.
Goloubef got texts from Smith when Goloubef was claimed by the Wings.
“He loved it here and had nothing but good things to say,” said Goloubef, who learned to live with the talkative Smith. “Two years in college, my word count was a little lower than his.”