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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The return of Grigorenko

DETROIT -- Johan Franzen moved one step closer to rejoining the Detroit Red Wings' lineup, Monday. On the same day, he was put on the injured reserve list.
That contradiction happened because Igor Grigorenko forced the team's hand and is coming back to Detroit, being put on the active roster. Grigorenko, who spent the past three weeks with Grand Rapids tallying zero points and two penalty minutes in five games, is forcing the Red Wings' hand. The Russian has an out-clause in his contract stating that if he spends more than three weeks in the minors (which he already has done), he can return to Europe.
Detroit management wanted Grigorenko to extend his stay in Grand Rapids, but he said that he'd return to Russia instead. So he's back in Detroit so that the franchise can protect its investment.
Franzen, who has missed the past seven games with an MCL injury, practiced with the team, Monday, at City Arena, engaging in every drill, but purposefully avoiding contact. But putting Franzen on injured reserve frees up one of the 23 active roster spots for Grigorenko.
Grigorenko was Detroit's first draft pick in 2001. Two years later, he played on a line at the World Championships with Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk. Shortly after that tournament, Grigorenko was involved in a car accident that broke his leg. While in the hospital, he nearly died of a fat embolism in lung.
"If Detroit has patience and Igor has patience, I think he can be a star here," said Grigorenko's agent, Mark Lapush. "If he wasn't a good player, they wouldn't call him up after three weeks. They'd say 'Go home to Russia.'"
Grigorenko was taking English language classes in Grand Rapids. He also made contact with a Pennsylvania-based skating instructor who works with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and intends to work with him in the offseason.
"He was in Grand Rapids for conditioning," said Lapush. "Even Scotty Bowman said 'This guy's hands and head are NHL.' Igor was disappointed that he didn't get more ice time (in Grand Rapids). He's very hungry, but he wasn't too effective in Grand Rapids. I told him that he was there for five games. If he was playing there the whole season, he would have gotten more ice time."
What to do with Grigorenko in Detroit is another matter. He showed signs in the preseason of potential, but didn't have good speed.
"Everything here's on an at-earn basis," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "We'll see if he has enough pace to fit in."
Babcock praised the play of both Matt Ellis and Aaron Downey -- the two lowest on the Red Wings' forward totem pole.
When Franzen comes back and if Dallas Drake isn't put on injured reserve -- Drake was ruled out of the next two games with a broken cheekbone -- then the team will have to make a roster move, trimming one forward.
"I told Igor, 'When you go to Detroit, no one's going to give you 20 minutes (of ice time),'" said Lapush. "'But whatever time they give you, play 1,000 percent.' He knows he can play there. He played seven exhibition games. He knows he can play at this level."
THIS AND THAT: The Red Wings practiced with the same line combinations that they used in the second half of their most recent game (Saturday in Phoenix). Jiri Hudler skated on the second line with Valtteri Filppula and Mikael Samuelsson. Ellis, Downey and Tomas Kopecky formed the fourth line. Franzen worked in with the first line on drills. … The team worked on 4-on-4 play, scrimmaging that way at practice. Babcock told the team before the drill, "We give up more chances 4-on-4 relatively speaking than we do on our penalty-kill."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

NHL hands and head are only part of the puzzle. I’ve been following this kid for years and I very much want him to be that 3rd scorer that the wings need, but my gut tells me he’ll be back in Russia shortly..

October 23, 2007 at 1:13 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agent Lapush says, "He's very hungry, but he wasn't too effective in Grand Rapids. I told him that he was there for five games. If he was playing there the whole season, he would have gotten more ice time," and then turns around and says, "But whatever time they give you, play 1,000 percent." Like the Griffins don't matter at all? WTF is that kind of attitude, Agent Lapush?

I hope Babcock skates Grigs in circles all around the Joe's ice.

October 25, 2007 at 8:34 PM 

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