When Stephen Weiss signed a five-year, $24.5 million contract to join the Detroit Red Wings, he probably knew things would be different than he’d become used to as a longtime member of the Florida Panthers.
Not that playing for his previous team was some sort of high-paid vacation, but winning a Stanley Cup with the Panthers was never a realistic goal while he was there. The fact Florida missed the playoffs in all but one of Weiss’s 11 seasons with the club was proof of that.
In Detroit, expectations are a tad higher.
“We explained the situation to him very clearly,” Wings head coach Mike Babcock said Tuesday, per MLive.com. “Told him if he wasn’t ultra-competitive he couldn’t come here. If he didn’t bring it every day he couldn’t come here, because he was going to hate it if he didn’t, dislike the coach and dislike playing here.
“It’s real straightforward. If you don’t do it right, you’re not happy here.”
Ideally, the addition of Weiss will allow Babcock to play superstars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together on the team’s top line, with Weiss holding down the No. 2 center spot.
While Babcock would like to see his new center tally in the neighborhood of 50 points, the coach will also be demanding a solid 200-foot game out of the 30-year-old.
“We think he has lots of skill set,” said Babcock. “He’s got to bring it every day. You got to play without the puck here. Simple.”
While much has been written about the Boston Bruins’ depleted defense, there’s also a good amount of intrigue about the forward group, which will look dramatically different tonight compared to last year’s season opener.
Here are the Bruins’ expected lines versus the Jets:
Brad Marchand–Patrice Bergeron–Loui Eriksson
Matt Beleskey–David Krejci–David Pastrnak
Jimmy Hayes–Ryan Spooner–Brett Connolly
Chris Kelly–Joonas Kemppainen–Zac Rinaldo
The line most under the microscope may be that second one. In today’s Boston Globe, there’s a lengthy story on Krejci. The 29-year-old center with the big contract only played 47 games last season due to injuries. He finished with just 31 points.
So, where is Krejci’s game now?
Then there’s free-agent addition Matt Beleskey, a.k.a. Milan Lucic‘s replacement. Prior to scoring 22 times last year for the Ducks, the 27-year-old Beleskey had never tallied more than 11 goals in a season.
So, is Beleskey a legitimate top-six forward?
On the other wing, it’s David Pastrnak, the 19-year-old who, somewhat surprisingly, emerged as one of the top rookies in the league last year.
So, can Pastrnak take another step forward?
“It’s been a good three plus weeks where we’ve been able to kind of work individually, as a group, as a line, with different players and different personalities,” said coach Claude Julien. “We’re pleased with it. We’re optimistic and we just have to let things work themselves out too.”
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks