The Detroit Red Wings took a significant risk when they signed Stephen Weiss to a five-year, $24.5 million contract over the summer.
The original hope was that Weiss could serve as the team’s second-line center, which would allow Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to play together on the first line. That’s a role Weiss has historically been qualified for, but that was back when he was playing in a comparatively low pressure situation in Florida.
On top of that, Weiss had just four points in 17 contests in an injury-filled 2013 campaign. So essentially they were signing him to a long-term deal based on the hope that his most recent showing was an anomaly. It wasn’t.
Weiss has again run into injury problems this season and hasn’t been able to produce even when he has played, which has thrown a wrench in the Red Wings’ plans. At least he can use the Olympic break to continue his recovery from a sports hernia.
To that end he’s going back to his Ontario Hockey League roots. Starting on Tuesday, he’ll be skating with the Plymouth Whalers.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Weiss told the Detroit Free Press. “It should hopefully spark something.”
If all goes well, he’ll join the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins before the Olympic break is over on a conditioning stint. From there he could be back in Detroit’s lineup when the team resumes its schedule on Feb. 26.
Of course, he knows that getting healthy again is just the beginning of his professional recovery.
“I’ve gotta claw my way back into the lineup, and whatever role I’m given, just try to help the team in whatever way they want me to,” Weiss said.
Detroit could certainly still use him as they try to squeak into the postseason.