It appears that the Detroit Red Wings are out of the hunt for free agent defenseman Willie Mitchell. The team announced today that they’ve reached a one-year deal with free agent defenseman Ruslan Salei. Much like Willie Mitchell, Ruslan Salei is a tough customer and a veteran player coming off an injury-laden season himself missing most of last season thanks to a back injury. When he is playing, however, he’s a shot-blocking defense-first defenseman playing about 20 minutes a game while adding snarl to the lineup. What’s different than Willie Mitchell is that the Wings are getting Salei at a good cost, $750,000 plus a possible $350,000 in bonuses.
Salei spent most of his career with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim after being a first round pick (9th overall) for them in 1996. While you won’t see Ruslan Salei much on the score sheet picking up goals and assists (he’s got 194 career points in 842 games played) you will see him mix things up physically as he’s earned 1,017 penalty minutes throughout his NHL career. Salei has also been the stalwart member of Belarus’ national team playing in the Olympics three times (2010, 2002, 1998).
Salei figures to be Jonathan Ericsson’s defensive partner on the third pair to start the year in Detroit as Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart fill out the other two defensive pairs. Salei gives head coach Mike Babcock and experienced veteran to use in the spot as well as opposed to Derek Meech, Jakub Kindl or rookie Brendan Smith.
That first day of training camp might be interesting for Ruslan Salei if Mike Modano has a long memory about things. Salei crushed Modano with a ruthless hit from behind years ago as a member of the Mighty Ducks that lead to a huge brawl. Lets hope that bygones are bygones for these two cagey veterans.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.