WINGS CORNER: Some players plan to play for homelands
April 19, 2003
BY HELENE ST. JAMES
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
In a week or two, a coalition of Red Wings will land in Helsinki.
Because the Anaheim Mighty Ducks crushed their playoff hopes after four games, several Wings plan to play in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships, which run April 26-May 11 in Helsinki and Tampere, Finland. Canada will gain Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper -- "once he said yes, I had to go over there to protect him," Draper said of his Grind Line mate -- plus Mathieu Dandenault. Pavel Datsyuk will join the Russians, and Henrik Zetterberg is 90 percent certain he will play for the Swedes.
Nicklas Lidstrom, though, turned down the chance to join Zetterberg. "I'm tired and disappointed," he said Friday. "I don't feel motivated to go and I don't think I should take another player's spot if I'm not motivated."
American Chris Chelios may go provided he gets an assurance he won't be just a grunt worker for coach Lou Vairo.
"I don't want to go over there just to kill penalties," he said. "Here I'll do that because that's my role, but I want to enjoy myself and go play, be involved and get some power-play time. It's a long way to go to just sit on the bench and kill penalties."
SEE YOU -- MAYBE: Igor Larionov was one of the few players who took his locker's nameplate with him, but it sure sounds as if he wants to put it back.
"It's not the way to finish my career like that," he said. "I don't think I'm done playing hockey; I've got something left in my tank to have another good year. If management is going to talk to me about playing another year, I will accept. If we keep most of the guys together, we have a great chance next year and I want to be a part of it."
Larionov, 42, probably would have to take a pay cut from his $1-million salary, perhaps as much as half. He played very well the second half of the season, and was solid in the playoffs.
The Wings seem likely to bring back defenseman Jason Woolley, which will go over well. "I don't want to play anywhere else," he said. "I had such a good time playing with these guys." Woolley's agent is Pat Brisson, who also will be negotiating for unrestricted free agent Sergei Fedorov. When it was suggested maybe Brisson could make it a 2-for-1 special, Woolley laughed and said, "Hamburger with fries. Guess who's the fries."
Fedorov left without talking to the media, but has said many times he hopes to return.
Brisson also represents Luc Robitaille, but the Wings are expected to buy out his $1-million option. Robitaille, 37, hopes to catch on with another team, and blamed his 11-goal output on how little he played.
"To tell you the truth, if you play on the fourth line, if you win it's OK," he said. "But if you lose, I'm not going to accept that. I don't want to play on the fourth line. Everybody expects me to score goals, but I mean, you have to get out there to score goals."
COUCH WINGS: Chelios said he'd watch the rest of the playoffs with his sons, "but that hurts worse. We feel we've cheated everybody by what we've done." Lidstrom will eventually tune in, though maybe not if it's a Ducks game. "I don't know if I'm going to watch them play, but I'm sure I'm going to follow the playoffs," he said.