DETROIT (AP) — The Ilitch companies — a group that includes the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, along with Little Caesars and other companies — has opened a facility in the Detroit area to produce protective masks.
Employees from across the organization are helping with the effort, which will try to produce about 60,000 masks per day.
“I’m from Detroit. To be able to give back to the city that I was born in and give back to a city that has given so much to me is important,” said Reginald Woods, a ticket sales representative for the Tigers and Red Wings. “To continue the Tigers’ and Red Wings’ legacy of giving back to Detroit is special.”
The masks will be donated to community groups and organizations that need them, as well as employees, franchises, customers, fans and guests.
“To design, set up and activate a production facility like what we have here in less than two months is truly impressive,” said Eric Brasseur, who is overseeing the facility. “This was made possible by the collective efforts and adaptability of employees across our family of companies.î”
By LARRY LAGE
AP Hockey Writer
Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is keeping coach Jeff Blashill despite another lackluster season.
Yzerman told reporters on Wednesday his previously announced plans to keep Blashill behind the bench have not changed. Blashill’s record over five seasons in Detroit is 153-194-52.
The NHL abandoned the rest of the regular season on Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic. It plans to hold a 24-team playoff if the league is able to resume play.
Detroit had a league-low 17 wins in its 71-game season. Every team in the NHL had at least 23 more points than the Red Wings, and the NHL-best Boston Bruins had 61 more.
The decision to go straight to the playoffs ended the season for the Red Wings along with six other teams.
Yzerman decided to keep Blashill last year when the Hall of Fame player returned to Detroit. He was supportive of him throughout another rebuilding season.
Former Wings GM Ken Holland gave Blashill a two-year extension in 2019, keeping him under contract through the 2021-22 season.
By STEPHEN WHYNO
and JOHN WAWROW
AP Hockey Writers
The NHL Players’ Association’s executive board is voting on a 24-team playoff proposal as the return to play format, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday night because the vote was still ongoing. Results of the vote could be in as soon as tonight.
Even if the executive board votes to approve the format, it doesn’t yet seal the deal for the NHL season resuming. The league and players union still need to negotiate other details, including health and safety protocols.
But the format is a substantial piece of the return to play puzzle.
Under the plan proposed by the joint NHL/NHLPA Return To Play Committee, the top four teams in each of the Eastern and Western Conferences would play each other for seeding while the remaining 16 teams face off in a best-of-five series play-in round to set the final 16 to compete for the Stanley Cup.
That would mean byes for Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia in the East and defending champion St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas in the West.
Pittsburgh, Carolina the New York Islanders and Rangers, Toronto, Columbus, Florida and Montreal would also make it in the East and Edmonton, Nashville, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Arizona and Chicago in the West.
The Detroit Red Wings have the league’s worst record with 39 points and a 17-49-5 record, with the next worst and 30th best team being fellow Atlantic Division foe Ottawa with a 25-34-12 mark and 62 points.
“I feel like if you’re doing the 24-team thing, it basically gives a team a chance that had no chance of making it, which if you play 82 there’s maybe 6, 8% chance that the team in 12th place (in the conference) makes it,” Carolina player representative Jordan Martinook said Wednesday, more than 24 hours before the executive board meeting. “Nobody’s ever seen this before, but at the end of the day, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are 16 teams, seven games a series.”
This format would lead to the traditional four rounds of seven-game series.
“I don’t think there’s going to be a perfect scenario where everyone’s super excited about,” Nashville’s Ryan Johansen said earlier Thursday. “As long as everybody can agree and be happy with the decision that will be made, that’s really all that matters.”
If the NHLPA’s executive board and the league’s board of governors approve the plan, the who of returning would be set. The where, when and how must still be determined, including how many cities will host games, quarantine regulations and testing.
“Nothing’s really certain until it’s certain, so things can change so quickly and they have on different things,” Return to Play committee member James van Riemsdyk of the Flyers said Wednesday. “We’re trying to keep as many options open and navigate through different things and hopefully come up with a vision that obviously first and foremost is the health and safety of everyone.”
Commissioner Gary Bettman this week said the league was looking at eight or nine locations to serve as hub cities for the resumption of the season.
It’s unclear when the league and players will agree to begin the second phase of preparations for return, which would be the reopening of team practice facilities and voluntary workouts. The following step would then likely be a three-week training camp before games resume.
By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Hockey Writer
The NFL’s successful virtual draft and uncertainty surrounding the resumption of hockey this season have raised the possibility of an NHL draft held before the Stanley Cup Final.
After postponing its draft scheduled for June 26-27 in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the NHL is considering having it earlier in June with the season in an indefinite suspension. There are mixed feelings among executives about the idea, ranging from frustration to begrudging acceptance.
“We’re just going to try to prepare as though it’s going to happen,” Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said. “It’s not going to be normal regardless of what it is, so we’re fine with whatever is decided.”
Unlike the NFL, which held its draft as usual in the middle of its offseason, the NHL would face several wrinkles going forward with a draft held before the season is complete: Teams would not be able to trade players, there would be a lack of clarity over next year’s salary cap and the draft order could be determined before all games are played.
It would put hockey back in the spotlight for a couple of days. It would also create plenty of headaches for those involved.
“I have not talked to one GM who likes it, and I talk to almost all of them,” agent Allan Walsh said Thursday.
A week after the league sent a memo to teams outlining its proposal, Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly on Friday said a decision has not made on the timing of the draft. GMs have asked for a month’s notice before holding a draft.
“My thought is: Why would you do that? Why do you need to do that?” Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said on Fox Sports Detroit. “I haven’t heard a good reason why we should do it prior to the end of the season if we do conclude the season over the course of the summer.”
Yzerman’s Red Wings could actually benefit from an adjusted draft lottery that gives him better odds at the top pick, likely Alexis Lafreniere. But Yzerman pointed to a litany of unknowns, including who’s in and out of the playoffs and how the draft order is determined.
There’s also the matter of the 2020-21 salary cap, which was initially projected at $84 million but is now expected to be set at the current $81.5 million or less.
“The draft serves a lot of different purposes in giving GMs the tools to build their roster for the next year apart from just drafting seven rounds of players,” Walsh said. “The cap teams — the Torontos, the Tampas — are going to have to move at least one big contract to make it work. And the time to do it is at the draft. But you can’t do it under a first week or second week of June scenario when you don’t know if the season is canceled or whether we are really going to come back and play.”
Daly said the NHL still hasn’t decided when to allow players to return to team training facilities for small group workouts, which would be the first step toward a return. The league continues to work internally and with the NHL Players’ Association on various scenarios, including resuming at three or four empty NHL arenas and pushing the start of next season back to December.
With that in mind, Los Angeles GM Rob Blake said the Kings are “quite comfortable with either scenario” of the draft happening in June or later. Many of his colleagues are in the same boat.
“We’ll have to work with it, obviously,” Blake said. “The one thing we know for sure is nothing will be status quo, so whether it’s prior in June or later, you’re going to have to make the necessary adjustments.”
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Red Wings have signed left wing Mathias Brome to a one-year contract, the team announced Wednesday, adding one of the leading scorers from the Swedish Hockey League last season.
The 25-year-old Brome had a career-high 43 points last season. He led Orebro HK with 17 goals and 26 assists. Brome averaged 33 points over three seasons in the SHL.
Brome will have a chance to contribute immediately when the NHL resumes play because the league-worst Red Wings desperately need help.
When the season was paused several weeks ago because of the coronavirus pandemic, Detroit had 39 points, trailing the NHL-leading Boston Bruins by 61 points and every other last-place team by at least 14 points.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Tom Webster, the former NHL and WHA forward who went on to coach the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings, died Friday. He was 71.
The Carolina Hurricanes announced Webster’s death. Webster scored 53 goals and helped the franchise — then the New England Whalers — win the World Hockey Association’s first title in 1972-73. He also was an assistant coach in Carolina, and son-in-law L.J. Scarpace was the team’s video coach.
From Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Webster had 33 goals and 42 assists in 102 career NHL games with Boston, Detroit and California. He had 30 goals and 37 assists in 78 games for Detroit in 1970-71, then played only 12 games for the Red Wings and Golden Seals the following season.
Webster then jumped to the WHA, where he had 220 goals and 205 assists in 352 WHA games in six seasons with the Whalers. He was inducted into the World Hockey Association’s Hall of Fame in 2012.
Webster was hired in 1986 to coach the Rangers, but developed an inner-ear infection that left him unable to fly. He resigned in April 1987. He took over the Kings in 1989, and led them to their first division title — topping the Smythe in 1991. He was 115-94-31 in three seasons with the team.
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — Justin Williams scored a tiebreaking goal 1:38 into the final period, and Sebastian Aho added two goals later in the third to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.
Morgan Geekie and Nino Niederreiter also scored for Carolina, which extended its winning streak to three games and pulled even with Columbus for the first wild card in the Eastern Conference. The New York Islanders had a chance to join that tie as well when they faced Vancouver later Tuesday night.
Tyler Bertuzzi and Christoffer Ehn scored for the Red Wings, who had their modest two-game winning streak snapped. Detroit is assured of the NHL’s worst record this season.
“If you look at the standings, and this is a game you expect to win — you should win,” Williams said. “You have to respect the game of hockey and the fact that you’ve got to punch in, you’ve got to put the work in. You have to outplay the other team.”
Williams has scored in five straight games. With the Hurricanes on a power play, Andrei Svechnikov sent a pass from behind the net and Williams slammed it past goalie Jonathan Bernier to put Carolina up 3-2.
The Hurricanes added a short-handed goal later in the third on a breakaway by Aho. Then he completed the scoring with Carolina’s third power-play goal of the night.
“I thought for 40 minutes, I thought we played pretty well — real well at times,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “Obviously, in the third, they out-specialty teamed us.”
Petr Mrazek, who had been dealing with a concussion, played in goal for Carolina for the first time since Feb. 22. He made 23 saves against his former team.
Geekie had two goals and an assist in his NHL debut at Pittsburgh on Sunday. He opened the scoring in the first period Tuesday, but Bertuzzi tied it.
Niederreiter and Ehn traded goals in the second.
“It wasn’t a great game for us, for sure,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I thought we buckled down and played a pretty decent third.”
NOTES: Detroit had a chance to match its longest winning streak of the season. The Red Wings had a three-game run from Nov. 8-12. … Detroit’s Luke Glendening played his 500th game. … Svechnikov appeared to score in the third, but the goal was overturned after an offside review. He is two points shy of 100 for his career.
Hurricanes: At New Jersey on Thursday night.
Red Wings: At Washington on Thursday night.
Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — Robby Fabbri scored the winning goal in a shootout to lift the Detroit Red Wings over Tampa Bay 5-4 on Sunday, snapping a 16-game losing streak against the Lightning in the regular season.
Fabbri opened the scoring in similar fashion, beating goalie Curtis McElhinney on a breakaway in the first period as well. Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi each had a goal and three assists for the Red Wings, who won despite blowing a 4-2 lead in the third period. Dylan Larkin also scored for Detroit.
“We knew they played last night. We wanted to jump on them early, and we did,” Larkin said. “We knew they could score, so when we got up two, it was a good cushion, but they’re an explosive offensive team so they responded.”
Brayden Point scored two goals, and Carter Verhaeghe and Pat Maroon had one apiece for the Lightning, who completed an unusual weekend in which they beat the team with the NHL’s best record (Boston) on Saturday night and then lost a day later to a Detroit team with by far the league’s worst mark.
“We didn’t make too many errors, but the ones we did were pretty glaring,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said.
By LARRY LAGE
AP Hockey Writer
DETROIT — Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri scored to give the Detroit Red Wings a two-goal lead and they held on to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Friday night.
Jonathan Bernier stopped 32 shots for the Red Wings, They have an NHL-low 37 points and trail the rest of the league by 20-plus points.
Patrick Kane scored his 31st goal with 1:05 left in the second period to pull Chicago within a goal. Corey Crawford had 23 saves for the Blackhawks.
Chicago is last in the Central Division despite having a winning record and its point total doubled Detroit’s entering the game.
The Blackhawks had won four straight, one shy of their season high, to improve their chances of closing strong enough to earn a wild card in the playoffs.
Detroit ended its fifth six-game losing streak this season.
The Red Wings got off to a good start with Bertuzzi’s goal 20 seconds into the game. Fabbri scored his 14th goal midway through the second period, putting Detroit ahead 2-0.
Kane’s one-timer was his 31st goal this season and it cut Chicago’s deficit to a goal.
The Blackhawks had a power play midway through the third period and did not take advantage of the opportunity. They pulled Crawford late in the game to put an extra skater on the ice and could not pull into a tie to force overtime.
Chicago’s Connor Murphy gingerly skated off the ice with 12 seconds left. The defenseman appeared to hurt his right leg, which took the brunt of the impact against the right post when he raced back to stop the puck from going into the empty net.
NOTES: Bertuzzi has 19 goals, two away from matching his career high from last year. … Detroit D Gustav Lindstrom had an assist for his first NHL point in his 14th game this season. … Actors Jeff Daniels and Dave Coulier, both Red Wings fans, announced Detroit’s starting lineup before the game in the team’s dressing room.
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — Gabriel Landeskog withstood a crunching hit while making a pass that sprung Logan O’Connor for a breakaway goal in the second period, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on Monday night for their seventh straight victory.
Vladislav Namestnikov also scored for the Avalanche, who extended a franchise record with their ninth consecutive road win. Anthony Mantha had the only goal for Detroit.
With the score tied at 1, Landeskog was just inside his own blue line when he took a hit from Detroit’s Robby Fabbri. As he was clocked, Landeskog released a pass up the ice to O’Connor, who was behind the defense at the other blue line.
O’Connor went in and beat goalie Jonathan Bernier for his second goal of the season.
Mantha converted off a goalmouth scramble to open the scoring in the first, but the Avalanche equalized before the period was over. Ryan Graves took a shot that slipped through Bernier, and Namestnikov kicked the puck to himself in the crease and then stuffed it in the net with his stick.
O’Connor was called up from the AHL on Saturday, and Namestnikov arrived from Ottawa in a recent trade.