Red Wings’ Robert Hagg back on ice, eager to shake off ‘scary’ head injury

Detroit News

Detroit — Defenseman Robert Hagg admits the incident was a scary one.

Hagg, during the Red & White intra-squad scrimmage two weeks ago in Traverse City, was hit on the head by a Simon Edvinsson shot. The puck got Hagg on the side of his head, knocking Hagg to the ice.

“I saw it in the last second coming straight toward my eye,” said Hagg, who participated in the Wings’ morning skate Friday for the first time this exhibition season. “Out of (normal) reaction, I turned my head. It hit the back of the ear, basically. It was a little bit scary, but all good now.”

Hagg began skating earlier this week and took part in Thursday’s practice in a non-contact jersey.

“It’s getting better each day,” Hagg said. “It’s another week until the season starts, so I’ll just take it day by day. I’ve been making progress each day, so, hopefully, it keeps going that way and no setbacks.”

Hagg, 27, signed in the offseason as a free agent to a one-year contract, strengthening the Wings’ depth, while adding a defensive defenseman with some size (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) and experience.

Hagg is likely to be plugged into the third pairing, possibly being paired with either Gustav Lindstrom or Edvinsson.

“He adds depth,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “He won’t play this weekend but he’ll be available to us for next week as we decide where (everyone) fits in.”

Lalonde feels Hagg’s defensive ability helps the Wings “especially for a team that’s trying to simplify their game and trying to take the risk out of their game. It’s unfortunate we haven’t seen him through the exhibitions, but that was the purpose of the signing. He showed that within this camp prior to getting hurt.”

Because of the Wings’ history and tradition, and specifically, the impact of Swedish players in the organization, signing with the Wings was an easy choice.

“You look around this room and there’s a lot of young guys, great guys and great players and the history of Detroit itself for me as a Swede, it’s something I’ve been following for quite some time, all the Swedes that have been here,” Hagg said.

Roster decisions looming

With Hagg and forward Andrew Copp (offseason abdominal surgery) both being cleared to practice, and likely playing next week, it further impacts the roster and likely lessens the chances of many young players such as Edvinsson, or forwards Elmer Soderblom, Jonatan Berggren and Joe Veleno.

Lalonde was unsure if the young players, many of whom were in Friday’s lineup, would also play Saturday in Toronto. If anything, it was also a chance to see how the prospects respond under back-to-back games against a Stanley Cup contender.

“There will be (some) players in (Saturday’s) lineup out of necessity,” Lalonde said. ” A little of that is reps and to get a game, and a little of that will be evaluation. Most of the guys on that bubble have had solid camps, flashes of real good and some holes in their game, so it’s another opportunity to do it again for some consistency.”

NHL teams must turn in their season-opening rosters by Monday at 5 p.m.

Returning home

Defenseman Steven Kampfer, 34, is still in camp and could be a fit as an extra defenseman.

Kamper (5-foot-11, 198-pounds) signed as a free agent in the off-season after playing in Russia’s KHL last season for Ak Bars Kazan.

With 231 games of NHL experience, Kamper fits perfectly into the role of a veteran defenseman who can be plugged in for a short-term injury.

“Injuries happen through the year and you have to have depth,” said Kamper, an Ann Arbor native who played at Michigan. “(General manager) Steve (Yzerman) did a good job of going out and getting a lot of guys who can play and if someone goes down, guys can fill in and are ready and you go from there.”

The opportunity to play for his hometown NHL team was a factor for Kampfer.

“It was good to go over (to Russia) and play and reinvent (my) game,” Kampfer said. “I’d been that seventh or eighth (defenseman) and I just needed a place in hockey. It was a good experience for myself and my family to go over there and the plan was to come back and see where an opportunity came.

“Coming to Detroit, and growing up a Wings fan and being from here, it was kind of a blessing and something my wife and I had talked about. You don’t get an opportunity to possibly suit up for the team you grew up with. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”

Red Wings at Maple Leafs

▶ Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto

▶ TV/radio: No TV/97.1

▶ Outlook: The Wings close out their eight-game exhibition season with the back end of a back-to-back series in Toronto. It’s the final opportunity for young players such as forward Joe Veleno and Elmer Soderlbom and defenseman Simon Edvinsson to make an impression on management and the coaching staff.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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