The Detroit Red Wings and speedy forward Andreas Athanasiou appeared to be on the verge of a messy separation after the team wasn’t meeting his contract requests, combined with a higher offer from the KHL.
However, as the team gathers in Traverse City for training camp, there may be a glimmer of hope yet.
General manager Ken Holland remains in contact with Athanasiou’s agent, as the restricted free-agent is also weighing an offer worth a reported $3 million from a KHL club. The Red Wings are believed to have offered a two-year “bridge” deal worth a reported $1.9 million per year.
Head coach Jeff Blashill shared his thoughts on the situation, and said that it’s his job to coach the players that arrive at camp – not worry about contracts.
“Right now, today, all I know is we’ve got a group of guys here and we’ll have a plan ready for AA and a plan if he’s not here,” he explained. “My job as the coach is to make sure I maximize the guys that are available to me.
“For me, it’s simple, as a coach … you worry about the players that are available to you,” Blashill said. “There’s multiple reasons why players are not available to you — illness, injury and in this case a contract negotiation. None of those are really things I can worry about.”
Captain Henrik Zetterberg also reflected on the sitution, saying these kind of situations aren’t exactly uncommon in the NHL.
“He’s a good player, we need him,” he said. “Every player probably goes through this (contract squabble) during their career and it’s the business side of it. There’s been players who miss camp and they’re back for exhibition games.”
The Red Wings will play their first exhibition game on September 19 at Boston, and first game at the new Little Caesars Arena on September 23.