The Detroit Red Wings will have a captain for the coming season, as scheduled, general manager Steve Yzerman said on Tuesday.
Due to the unusual nature of the season – no fans at Little Caesars Arena, at least initially, and no official in-person press conference – due to COVID-19, there was speculation that the Red Wings might prefer to wait until the start of the 2021-22 season to give the new captain a more appropriate introduction.
But after two seasons with no one wearing the ‘C’, the Red Wings will appoint a captain before the 56-game season begins on January 13.
“We haven’t figured out exactly how we’re going to roll this out, but our plan at the moment hasn’t changed as we mentioned earlier in the offseason,” Yzerman said during a Zoom media availability. .
Dylan Larkin is the obvious choice. It would be shocking if someone else was named.
Larkin was an alternate captain for the past two seasons. Yzerman chose not to appoint a captain in 2019-20, wanting to get more familiar with the players. Larkin, Justin Abdelkader (acquired in October), Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendening were alternate captains.
Yzerman, the longest-serving captain in NHL history (22 seasons), said there was more of a heightened sense of responsibility when someone was named captain.
“In most situations, you’re trying to react in a leadership role or a responsible role,” Yzerman said. “I just think you take a lot more things into consideration than you normally can’t, whether it’s an official call or a situation off the ice with a teammate or anything that has to do with the team. As a captain, you get a little more sense of responsibility in every situation.
The Red Wings and six other non-playoff teams from last season will begin training camp on December 31st.
Five back from Europe
Yzerman said forwards Filip Zadina, Michael Rasmussen and Mathias Brome and defenders Filip Hronek and Gustav Lindstrom have been recalled from loan to European clubs and will join the squad for the start of training camp.
Defender Moritz Seider and center Joe Veleno will continue to play in Sweden until their club has completed the season, in accordance with Swedish Hockey League rules regarding players on loan.
“For the young players who are trying to establish themselves, to form an NHL team, it (was) important for them to play (during the NHL break),” said Yzerman. “I think that’s an advantage for these kids. Guess Zadina and Hronek had a lot of ice time. I expect them to be a bit sharper. The league they were playing in isn’t the NHL, it’s a men’s league; it will be a big step, but I really know it was an advantage for them to play games, to shoot the puck in the net. Playing in many situations only helps them develop as players.
Third goalkeeper on the roster
Teams are required to carry a third goalkeeper at all times this season in case one is positive for the coronavirus. Yzerman has said Calvin Pickard or Kevin Boyle will be their third goalie.
“You can have a third guard on your list of the 23 or have one on the taxi team,” Yzerman said. “We will be debating how we work this between Calvin Pickard and Boyle. It depends on what is happening at the American League level as well. We will have at least one goalie on the taxi team, we could even keep two on the taxi team.
Another possible movement
The Red Wings roster is full, but they have a cap of $ 9.5 million, according to capfriendly.com. Yzerman has said he could make another move ahead of the season.
“Definitely dig,” he said. “I don’t want you to just sit there and wait for us to act, but you’re still looking for ways to move forward or improve and we’ll continue to do that until the start of the regular season. So, is the list established? No.”
Curious divisional alignment
The temporary divisional realignment, necessitated by an all-Canadian division due to travel restrictions, has the Red Wings in the Central Division along with Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Florida, Nashville and Tampa Bay.
It makes more geography sense to have St. Louis or Minnesota instead of Dallas. Some might say it makes more sense to have Buffalo instead of Carolina.
“There wasn’t going to be a perfect setup for us,” Yzerman said. “We don’t lose sleep over it. It’s a bit more travel for us. Under the circumstances, we are confident that the league did what it needed to do for a variety of reasons.
As for being reunited with longtime rival Chicago, Yzerman said, “Great city. We had a great rivalry. The games are good whether you have Blackhawks fans in the game in Detroit or Red Wings fans in the Chicago building these are very lively and entertaining games. At least at first there would be fans, which takes it down a bit, but the Original Six matches are great and we’re happy to be in the same division.
No fans at LCA at least to start with
Yzerman said he assumed fans won’t be allowed to attend ACL games at least early in the season. This is currently the case with the Pistons, whose home opener is Saturday.
“It’s really subject to local and state governments,” Yzerman said. “I don’t know if and when we will have fans. Right now we’re entering our season with the idea of playing in empty arenas with no plan in place for fans in the building until we know that’s a possibility.
Many consecutive games
The schedule is not finalized, but Yzerman said the preliminary draft called for the Red Wings to play 10 games in 18 days in January.
The league said there will only be division games. Yzerman said the teams will play back-to-back games in a city to reduce travel.
The NHL will allow teams to place advertisements on helmets this season. Yzerman is unsure of the club’s position on this.
“I don’t know what they’re planning, but I know it’s a possibility,” Yzerman said. “It’s not my department, but it’s an opportunity. We have to be creative. Our income has been hit hard and you are always looking for growing income no matter what your business. So I expect that to happen, I don’t know what our squad will be like. You see it in Europe, at international events. I don’t really have a problem with that.