His initials may be “AA”, but fans are likely to give him an “F” based on the entirety of this situation.

The news that Detroit Red Wings fans were hoping to not hear regarding speedy forward Andreas Athanasiou has just been confirmed. According to TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie, Athanasiou has informed Red Wings GM Ken Holland that he will be traveling to Switzerland Friday night and will start skating with Lugano of the Swiss-based National League.

He intends to explore his options once he’s there, as he hasn’t signed any contract or made any official commitment.

This will certainly leave a bitter taste in the mouths of Red Wings fans everywhere who quickly took to Athanasiou’s speed and offensive creativity on a team starved for offense. Since only four other NHL clubs scored less goals per game than Detroit last season, the offense Athansiou provided (18 goals in 64 games) that they’ll now have to go without may set them back further.

For now, this ends a messy contract negotiation saga between the Red Wings and Athanasiou’s camp. The team stood firm on what they thought was a fair contract offer for two years at $1.9 million a season, while Athanasiou and his agent were seeking at least $2.5 million per season. Detroit also offered a one-year deal at $1.25 million, but it was also rejected.

Ken Holland and Athanasiou’s agent had resumed talks earlier this week, but evidently no progress was made. Holland declined to comment on this latest news.

In Athansiou’s absence, Detroit signed NHL veteran David Booth to a one-year contract, as well as promoting young forward Martin Frk from Grand Rapids. Frk scored his first career goal in Detroit’s season opener against Minnesota on Thursday night.


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