Detroit Red Wings skate at Little Caesars Arena for the first time in 9 months

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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There’s on-ice activity at Little Caesars Arena for the first time in nearly nine months.

The facility has largely stood empty since the NHL and NBA shut down in mid-March because of COVID-19, but with an NHL season on the horizon — maybe — ice was put in at the practice rink over the weekend.

Detroit Red Wings players who are in the area — a group that includes Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha — took to the ice there Monday for the first time since March 11. The next day, the NHL paused the 2019-20 season, and in May announced the remaining roughly three weeks would not be played.

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The Wings, who had been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs March 10, were one of seven teams not to be a part of the return to play group in August.

Now the NHL and the Players Association are negotiating in the hopes of staging a 2021 season. The target date, at least publicly, remains Jan. 1, though that seems unlikely given that is only a month away. That would mean training camps would start in mid-December.

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Wings players are able to stage their own practices, similar to what they do in early September before heading to Traverse City for camp.

General manager Steve Yzerman has made numerous changes to the team that finished with a league-worst 17-49-5 record. Veterans Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkader, Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley are gone. There are new faces in goaltender Thomas Greiss, forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and Bobby Ryan, and defensemen Marc Staal, Jon Merrill and Troy Stecher. While none of the acquisitions are marquee players, they at least give the impression that the Wings will be more competitive.

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The Wings have not yet recalled their players who are on loan to teams in Europe, a group that includes Filip Zadina, Filip Hronek and Michael Rasmussen. The Wings players in the Swedish Hockey League, Moritz Seider and Joe Veleno, are not eligible to be recalled until their seasons end.

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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