Detroit — The new normal for the NHL — and, thus, the Red Wings, too — hit home after Tuesday’s morning skate.
Coach Jeff Blashill and several players were brought into a separate interview area to talk with media after the team completed its practice.
The new policy took affect Tuesday, as the NHL, NBA, MLB and MLS closed off locker rooms and clubhouses to only players and essential team employees because of coronavirus concerns.
“It’s the reality of what is going on in the world,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “I just think we’re like everyone else and staying very cautious and safe.
"But nobody has answers right now, so just try to be cautious and take the steps needed to make sure everyone is safe.”
Wings players said the virus scare haven’t yet dramatically changed their lives.
“You’re always cautious, washing your hands during the flu season a little extra anyway,” forward Luke Glendening said. “(But) sports don’t exist in a vaccum and we feel the stuff the real world does also.”
Other than the recommendations coming out daily, defenseman Alex Biega hasn’t changed his daily living, especially with three kids at home.
“I don’t really think about it,” Biega said of not shaking hands with people on an everyday basis. “I might wash my hands a little more than I usually do, but I have three kids at home so I’m used to it.
Dylan Larkin and Luke Glendening meet the media outside the Red Wings locker room Tuesday. The Detroit News
“I don’t plan to change or alter my life. Just like you guys, I’m not a doctor. I just listen to the news like everyone else … and you take proper precautions and you go from there.”
Daily preparations, said coach Jeff Blashill, have not been impacted, and the Wings are preparing for game days, or daily practices, as they always have.
Forward Justin Abdelkader was feeing ill Tuesday, and rather than reporting to Little Caesars Arena, was told to stay home. Abdelkader was not scheduled to be in the lineup Tuesday against Carolina.
“He was on the fence on whether he’d be able to play or not, and we decided for him to stay home,” said Blashill, who stressed it was nothing more than a mild illness. “A little extra precaution there.”
Players have been asked about the possibility of playing in front of no fans — and that's something becoming a stark possibility in San Jose because of a county ban on mass gatherings.
If playing in front of no fans becomes a reality here in the final weeks of the regular season, Wings players agree it would be strange.
“Weird,” Larkin said. “A little different.”
Alex Biega talked Tuesday about re-signing with the Red Wings for another year. The Detroit News
Happy to be here
Biega was excited about agreeing to a one-year contract extension Monday with the Wings worth $850,000.
Acquired early this season from Vancouver, Biega, 31, was given an opportunity for more playing time with the Wings and taken advantage of it.
“No doubt,” Blashill said. “I taked to some of his past coaches before we ended up acquiring him and they said he finds a way to win you over. What you do a lot of time, and we’re no different than fans or media, you get tantalized by a guy with potential, and he (Biega) doesn’t have that sexy skill set, he’s small, not super fast or super elite talent, but he just finds a way to win you over.
“Over time he outplays other guys. We sat him a lot, he didn’t play much and had a limited role, and he just outplayed other guys and sometimes we’re not super smart and it takes us too long, and next thing you know, we’re playing him more minutes and he helps you win hockey games.”
Said Biega: “My family and I love the city of Detroit and the area, and just how well we’re treated here (in the organization), it’s been great. I’m grateful for the opportunity given here and hopefully I can keep improving and showcasing myself and showing what I can do.”
Tuesday’s game was the 500th of Glendening’s career, marking a milestone in his career.
“I didn’t even know if I’d play one (NHL) game, so I feel real blessed to be able to play I’ve played that many games for one organization it’s been a huge blessing for me, for sure,” Glendening said.
… Filip Zadina (ankle) didn’t take part in Tuesday’s morning skate, because of a separate issue, said Blashill, which puts in doubt Zadina’s possible return to the lineup Thursday in Washington. Blashill wasn't sure if Zadina, who hasn't played since Feb. 1, would make the two-game road trip this week.