Detroit Red Wings center and alternate captain Luke Glendening met the media in a teleconference Thursday to talk about the shortened 2019-20 season. The Detroit News
Detroit — It’ll be nice to see NHL hockey back this summer, but not being involved in the playoff action will sting Red Wings players.
The NHL announced Tuesday a Return to Play Plan with 24 teams — although many hurdles still exist, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Wings, with the worst record in the NHL, along with six other teams will not be involved.
“It can give hope to people and that’s exciting obviously,” said forward Luke Glendening, the Red Wings’ player representative, during a Zoom call Thursday with media. “We’d love to be part of that but we didn’t put ourselves in a great situation.”
The Wings had a 17-49-5 record. They had 11 games remaining in the regular season, and were already long eliminated from a playoff spot.
Still, the ability to come together as a team and conclude the season was appealing.
“It’ll be fun to just have hockey and we were hoping we could be part of it in some way,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Just to get together as a group, to skate and coach and play again, but we’re not going to have that opportunity and that’s OK.
“At least we’ll be able to watch and that’ll be pretty neat.”
Glendening is the Wings’ player representative and voted yes on the playoff format, which was approved by a reported 29-2 vote.
Though not being included in the return to play, Glendening said the Wings were supportive of what the committee’s work to formulate a plan to return.
“We’re all competitive and would love to play and compete,” Glendening said. “But what is the best way to do this in a safe and timely manner? I know it’s not exactly perfect in everyone’s eyes but the committee worked a long time on that and when we ended up voting on a format, we didn’t have a dog in the fight, so it was kind of weird situation as we were out of it.
“But we believed in the committee and what they were doing.”
The NHL is the first of the major pro sports leagues to formulate a plan for a return. Major league baseball and the NBA are both still finalizing plans for a safe return to actual games.
“Hockey coming back, sports coming back in general, it gives people hope and that’s what we need right now,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “Something to watch and gather around, people in their cities need to cheer teams.
“It’s a great sign that there’s hockey coming back, and sports in general, coming back.”
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill met the media in a Thursday teleconference to discuss the early end of the 2019-20 season and the impact on the team. The Detroit News
Earn their way
Next season, whenever it’ll begin for the Red Wings, will be a big one for forward Evgeny Svechnikov and defenseman Moritz Seider.
Svechnikov, 23, is a 2015 first-round pick who has spent the majority of his professional time in Grand Rapids, in the minor leagues.
Svechnikov either stays on the Wings’ roster after next training camp, or will be lost on waivers. The Wings will likely keep him around, but it’ll be up to Svechnikov to carve out playing time.
“The first thing Svech has to do is find a way to earn his way on the team and earn his way into minutes,” Blashill said. “As he earns those opportunities, we can start seeing how high he can go (in the lineup), but you have to start by making the team and earning more minutes. Those aren’t handed out to anybody.
“It starts with earning trust and he’s worked real hard. He’s an extremely hard working person in practice and off the ice and he wants to be a great player.”
Seider was last year’s No. 1 draft pick, and the young defenseman improved steadily in Grand Rapids, adjusting to the North American pro game.
The Wings hope Seider will be ready to step into the lineup next season.
“He had a real good year in totality,” Blashill said. “It was a learning year, ups and downs, and when you’re a defenseman it’s real hard. The experience he went through, especially for him because he wants to attack the game an in an offensive manner, and that’s awesome. But part of that is learning not to bite off more than you can chew.
“He has a chance to be a real impactful defenseman. Can he do it next year? I hope so. He might have as many as eight months to get himself prepared to improve his body and turn his body to an elite pro body.”
Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin met with the media in a teleconference Thursday to talk about the premature end of the 2019-20 season. The Detroit News
For most Red Wings players, this is the longest they've gone without organized on-ice workouts in their careers.
It’s not easy to replicate skating in any workout. That level of conditioning will take some time to get back.
“I can go back to my high school days and playing football (at East Grand Rapids) and I thought I was in great shape,” Glendening said. “Then stepping onto the rink and I felt terrible and out of shape. Skating just isn’t one of those things that transfers very easily.
“But that being said, guys are riding the bike and running and working out, so they’ll be in shape. It’s obviously going to take some time, like it does every summer, to get back into it and this will be no exception.”
Larkin has gone back to rollerblading, which many players have, in an effort to maintain his stride.
“Rollerblading is something I’ve been doing a lot, something I did as a kid, so I’ve definitely put the rollerblades on, and stickhandling in the backyard,” Larkin said. “Training in the gym, you can build up your muscles and explosiveness in the gym, and that’ll help you on the ice, but it’s hard to get the stride mechanics and strides when you’re not on the ice.”