Stuart gets to know his new teammates
The Detroit Red Wings were flared out in circles around the center-ice logo, set to begin their early practice stretching exercises, today. One player -- usually a veteran like Kris Draper or Dan Cleary -- will go to the center and lead the stretches.
On his first day with his new team, Brad Stuart slid across the ice, stopping on the winged wheel logo.
His new teammates hooted and hollered and banged their sticks on the ice. Stuart grinned.
"For the most part, you just want to sit back for a little bit and work in slowly," said Stuart, who was acquired in a trade with Los Angeles, Tuesday. "I'm not a talkative guy. It'll take a little while. I'm just going to take my time. You introduce yourself to everybody. You go around and make sure you know all the trainers and the coaching staff. It always takes a little while to remember everybody's name, but that's how it is. You just start there."
Stuart has experience as the new guy in the locker room. The Red Wings are his fifth team in the past three seasons, having been traded in the midst of each of the past three seasons.
This time though, Stuart is in a sea of new faces. His only teammate experience with any current Red Wing was a four-game cup-of-tea with the San Jose Sharks that Mikael Samuelsson had in 2000-01. (Stuart was the Sharks' first-round draft pick in 1998. Samuelsson was the team's fifth-rounder. The Sharks also drafted Jonathan Cheechoo in the second round that summer.)
"It's a fairly new locker room for me," said Stuart. "The last couple of times I've been traded, I've known a few guys, but this time I don't really. It's a little bit different, but everybody's been good."
One player to whom a defenseman like Stuart needs no introduction is Tomas Holmstrom, who makes opposition defensemen and goaltenders miserable with his net-front play.
"That'll be a plus for sure," said Stuart of being Holmstrom's teammate. "He's one of those guys who you know where he'll be and it's tough to deal with him. In saying that, I'll know where he's going be now as a teammate and I've just got to get those shots through. I've seen what happens numerous times when shots get through."
Stuart's role with the Red Wings will be as a physical defenseman who can play on either the power play or penalty-kill. At Thursday's practice, he was paired with Niklas Kronwall and played on the penalty-kill.
"I'm not looking to do anything special, just fit in and figure out my role over the next couple of weeks and get prepared for the push to the playoffs," said Stuart.
Stuart will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
"He's a big physical guy who can skate and move the puck," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "We're excited to have him and hope he's going to be a Wing for a long time."