Detroit — Jeff Petry was hoping for that phone call for a long time, to find out he would be a member of the Red Wings.
When Petry finally heard the news Monday afternoon, it was a huge sense of relief and excitement.
“To get that call, hear that news that you’re coming home and coming to play for the team you watched growing up, and watched a lot of games here, to be able to put on this jersey, that means a lot,” Petry said Wednesday during his introduction at Little Caesars Arena. “It’s a very special moment.”
Petry, 35, was traded Monday from Montreal to the Wings for defenseman Gustav Lindstrom and a 2025 conditional fourth-round draft pick. The Canadiens also retained salary for the last two years of Petry’s four-year contract.
Petry is the son of former Tigers pitcher and current broadcaster Dan Petry. Jeff played for the Little Caesars program as a youth, played at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Michigan State, and has continued to live in the Metro Detroit area during offseasons and will make it his home upon retirement.
Getting the chance to keep his growing family in Detroit year-round, for Petry, was “a big relief and a lot of excitement was going through my mind.”
Petry acknowledged Kent Hughes, the Montreal general manager, for facilitating a trade with Wings general manager Steve Yzerman.
“They (the Canadiens) were transparent about the whole process from when it went first down (a trade from Pittsburgh to Montreal earlier in the summer) to (Monday), so they kept us in the loop of what their plans were,” Petry said. “I knew there was a possibility (of a trade) but nothing is ever guaranteed until it actually happens. To get the call and knowing I was coming home made it extra special.
“He (Hughes) asked where some places there were to look into, things like that, and for him to do that for me was great. Detroit was the No. 1 spot on my list. I’ve wanted to play here, wanted to my whole life.”
Petry was always hopeful of getting a chance to play in his hometown.
“It definitely crossed my mind,” Petry said. “It was always something that you grew up watching a team and you always play the situation in your mind of you wearing that jersey and being there. Making the NHL and playing, it’s an awesome experience, amazing, and you keep thinking in your head when that opportunity is going to come. “I always thought about wanting to play one year here, maybe at the end of my career or whatever, and when the opportunity came and to get that call yesterday, it was a special moment.”
Petry checked in with his father, Dan, briefly on Monday before the Tigers’ broadcast. Petry will wear number 46 with the Wings, just as Dan did with the Tigers.
“I didn’t tell him; I wanted to leave that part a surprise,” Jeff said. “I did tell my mom. I actually showed her the post they (the Wings) put out and she just kind of shook her head and smiled. She didn’t see it (the numbers being identical) until I pointed it out. She was shocked, and then my dad was on (the television) set and he sent me a nice note, said he was very honored and never saw that coming.”
Petry spoke with Yzerman, coach Derek Lalonde and Wings players after the trade was announced.
“It was a great conversation. He (Yzerman) welcomed me to the Red Wings and was asking about family and things like that,” Petry said. “He’s a guy who cares more about things than just on the ice. I had a call with (Lalonde) and spoke to other coaches, as well as some of the players who live in our area, and it was nice to hear the messages. I’m looking forward to getting everything started.”
Petry is excited about the potential this revamped Wings roster has. This offseason, Yzerman has added forwards Alex DeBrincat, J.T. Compher, Klim Kostin, Daniel Sprong and Christian Fischer, defensemen Petry, Shayne Gostisbehere and Justin Holl, and goaltenders James Reimer and Alex Lyon.
“The younger players the last couple of years, they’re getting that experience and figuring out what their roles are in the league,” Petry said. “Adding players like DeBrincat and Compher, those kind of guys, you can see the roster starting to round out and I’m excited to get started and do what I can to help the team take those steps forward.”