Detroit Red Wings send Jakub Vrana to Grand Rapids for conditioning stint

Detroit Free Press

We are one step closer to a return for Jakub Vrana.

The Detroit Red Wings sent the 26-year-old forward to AHL affiliate Grand Rapids on Wednesday for conditioning, presumably to make his return to competitive hockey for the first time since he entered and exited the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program.

Vrana played in the Wings’ first two games of the season before entering the program in October. He returned to the team on Dec. 16 and has been practicing with the team since.

“There are bigger things than hockey in life and you have to get it in order,” Vrana said on Dec. 16. “You have to deal with some things that are bigger than hockey. It’s important to make that decision. (Before) it is too late, you have to make some decisions that are important in your life.”

When he returned, head coach Derek Lalonde said he and general manager Steve Yzerman were in constant communication to determine the plan for Vrana’s return.

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“He’s coming closer and closer,” Lalonde said on Dec. 19. “It’s just it’s hard to judge him. He hasn’t been on the ice for two full months. Steve and I we literally talk about it every day.”

The team did not indicate how long Vrana would be with the Griffins in Wednesday’s announcement. The team or Vrana have not said why he was placed in the player assistance program.

The Wings return to the ice on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, followed by Thursday in Buffalo and then Saturday night at home against Ottawa.

The Griffins play at Rockford on Wednesday and then at Milwaukee on Friday before hosting Milwaukee on Saturday night.

Vrana had a goal and an assist in the Oct. 15 game against New Jersey. Last season, he was limited to 26 games due to injury, but had 13 goals and 32 points.

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