Red Wings roundup: NHL start date, AHL note, World Juniors, Seider rules, Timashov out, Blashill speaks

NHL season expected to start mid-January, Red Wings prospects get set for World Juniors, more

PITTSBURGH - MAY 04: The NHL logo behind the net during the game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers prior to game five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 4, 2008 at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) (Bruce Bennett, 2008 Getty Images)

I have more things to say about Mortiz Seider, the future of the Red Wings, and a lot more as we prepare to welcome back pro hockey to our TVs.

First, the news of the week:

The NHL is expected to start the 2020-21 season on Jan. 13. Hockey insider Elliotte Friedman wrote this week non-playoff teams should expect to report to camps on Dec. 28, and the rest on Jan. 1:

“No exhibition games appear likely. I believe there is a short-term ‘hub plan’ being worked on just in case, but it is not the preference. The biggest headache might be training camp plans in places like Montreal, San Jose (Arizona?) and Winnipeg, which have strict current restrictions due to COVID-19.”

As previously reported, if the season can start mid-January, the league expects to have a 56-game regular season. Don’t expect fans in any of the buildings any time soon (probably not at all this spring -- we’ll see).

By the way, the last time the NHL played a shortened season was in 2012-13 when a labor dispute between the league and players union delayed the season’s start until Jan. 6, 2013. They ended up playing a 48-game season, just as they did in 1994-95 due to another lockout.

The divisions will shift:

Here’s what was reported this week about the divisions for this shortened, travel-strangled season:

  • “Atlantic” -- Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
  • “Central” -- Carolina, Columbus, Detroit, Chicago, Florida, Dallas, Nashville, Tampa
  • “Pacific” -- Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Los Angeles, San Jose, St. Louis, Vegas
  • 🇨🇦 All Canadian division -- the 7 Canadian teams

The Central division looked a bit like this between 1993-1996 with Chicago, Minnesota/Dallas, Detroit, St. Louis, Toronto and Winnipeg/Phoenix. That was a crazy division for travel.

This 2021 realignment is still being discussed. I would have appreciated St. Louis in the Central with the Red Wings, and perhaps that could still happen? In terms of competitiveness, I don’t think anyone would want to be in that Atlantic division. Let’s put it this way: Carolina probably is happy to be getting shifting over to the Central.

What’s happening with the ECHL, AHL

The ECHL got underway on Friday. There are 13 teams competing right now in this pandemic-stricken season: Allen, Florida, Greenville, Indy, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Orlando, Rapid City, South Carolina, Tulsa, Utah, Wheeling and Wichita. The rest of the teams, including the Toledo Walleye, are expected to join the others and start playing on Jan. 15. However, the Atlanta Gladiators decided they will skip this 2020-21 season altogether.

Amazing, really, that you have a Georgia-based ECHL team opting to skip the season due to COVID restrictions while the Florida Everblades already have fans at their games. 🤔

As for the AHL, the regular season was pushed back to at least Feb. 5. The AHL was first planning to start play on Dec. 4. Now, it’s unclear exactly what this 2020-21 season will look like for the NHL’s top league of affiliates. You can expect an all-Canadian division, just like the NHL’s. Other than that, there are a lot more questions than answers right now about what lies ahead for the AHL.

The NHL teams may be allowed to carry more players this season, such as a “taxi squad” that the MLB teams had this past summer, and that will weigh heavily on the look of the AHL teams. The goal will be to limit the amount of players -- if any -- who could be shifted between leagues.

Look, the AHL and the ECHL are in a bad position, let’s face it. The NHL has the resources -- the TV contracts, the NHLPA, the legacy -- to make this work. The minor league affiliates, meanwhile, rely heavily on ticket sales and concessions. Take away all of that and their top talent and it’s, well, not good. I don’t know what else to say. 😕

🧸 Note: The Grand Rapids Griffins are holding a “Teddy Bear Toss and Holiday Drive” this week from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at Griff’s IceHouse at Belknap Park in Grand Rapids.

World Juniors tournament is a go 🌐

The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship tournament is scheduled for Dec. 25 though Jan. 5. Somehow that’s less than two weeks from now. The tournament will be played in Edmonton. In the U.S. you will be able to catch these games live on NHL Network. In Canada, the games will be on TSN.

The Red Wings have seven prospects playing in this tournament:

🇸🇪 Team Sweden -- five Red Wings prospects:

🇫🇮 Team Finland -- one Red Wings prospect:

🇨🇿 Team Czech Republic -- one Red Wings prospect:

Seider rules 💪🇩🇪

Of course, as you may have heard, German defenseman Moritz Seider (round 1, 6th overall in 2019 draft) has decided not to participate in this tournament. He will instead remain with his pro club, Rogle BK in Sweden, where he has become a non-stop highlight reel.

If you know me at all, I try not to get too excited about prospects, especially before they’ve ever played a game in the NHL. But this guy Seider is becoming an exception to my rule. He has 11 points in 15 games with Rogle this season, and that’s not even telling half the story. When you watch the clips of him in this Swedish league, he looks like a man playing among boys, when in fact it’s the opposite. He’s only 19.

It’s too bad Seider won’t be in the international spotlight this year, but at least he’s playing pro hockey consistently. That’s all you can ask for during this pandemic.

I could just keep posting highlight after highlight.

🇺🇸 Meanwhile, it’s worth noting the University of Michigan’s Cam York will be playing for Team USA at the WJC. The 19-year-old defenseman has 5 points in 8 games with the Wolverines this season. He was drafted 14th overall by the Flyers in 2019.

Timashov out 👋

Dmytro Timashov, 24, played five games with the Red Wings after he was plucked off waivers from Toronto in February. At the time, Bob McKenzie reported Timashov may have asked the Leafs for a trade before he was placed on waivers. He spent three seasons playing with Toronto’s AHL affiliate the Marlies before making the NHL roster this season.

Now he’s on the move again, this time to the Islanders in exchange for future considerations. I don’t know exactly what’s going on here. In 44 career NHL games with Detroit and Toronto, he has four goals and five assists. He needs to sign a new contract, and I’m guessing he values himself way more than Steve Yzerman is willing to pay. We know all too well Yzerman is not the type to play around with a young, unproven player’s contract. He has not time for that.

We’ll see what Timashov does with the Islanders.

Blashill on NHL Network

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill appeared on NHL Network for an interview this week -- here’s what he said:

“I think any time you add new blood, a number of new players, it just adds an infusion of energy. So we’re excited about that infusion of energy. We’re excited about guys, who I think ultimately we have a lot of guys who have a lot to prove, whether it’s guys coming back or guys that we’ve added to the hockey team ... I think we have a highly motivated group. It was a very, very difficult season last year. But the good part for this long layoff is that seems like 10 years ago.”

It really does.

Blashill signed a two-year contract extension in April 2019, keeping him under contract through the 2021-22 season. In May, Yzerman said he was keeping coach Blashill despite another lackluster season. He’s remained supportive of the coach, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

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