TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – New Detroit Red Wings forward Stephen Weiss says the franchise’s perpetual contender status was a big reason he decided to come to Detroit.
Detroit signed Daniel Alfredsson and Weiss and extended Pavel Datsyuk’s deal, giving the team a better chance for success as it shifts to the Eastern Conference under NHL realignment. The Wings also agreed to bring back veteran forward Danny Cleary on Thursday with a one-year deal for $1.75 million.
“It’s really refreshing,” Weiss said as the Red Wings opened training camp. “They try to win the Stanley Cup every year and they going to try and do what they have to do to make that happen. That’s awesome for me, coming here and try to do whatever I can to help out.”
With established veteran stars like Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg already in the fold and adding two proven vets in Alfredsson and Weiss, the Red Wings aim to improve their offence from a year ago. At 2.54 goals per game, Detroit was 20th out 30 NHL squads.
“One of the things we wanted to accomplish in the off-season was secondary scoring,” general manager Ken Holland said. “Last year, we were fifth in the league in goals against. We needed to be a little better in the goal-scoring department. Injuries were a factor, but we also changed the personnel.”
Johan Franzen paired with Alfredsson and Weiss in Thursday’s scrimmage, while Justin Abdelkader was on the Datsyuk and Zetterberg line.
The 40-year-old Alfredsson had a slight drop-off in his numbers in last year’s shortened season, scoring 10 goals and 26 points in 47 games. In the previous 11 years, he was a 70-point scorer nine times, including a 103-point 2005-06 campaign. He inked a one-year, $5.5 million contract with Detroit in July.
Weiss, 10 years younger than Alfredsson, has put up 394 points in 654 career NHL games, including 42 or more points in each of the last six non-shortened seasons. He signed a five-year, $24.5 million deal in July.
Alfredsson said the first day of Red Wings activity wasn’t that big of a change for him.
“It’s not too different,” Alfredsson said. “I see a lot of similarities. I don’t know if it’s because (Paul MacLean) in Ottawa was part of this organization for a long time and applied some of the ideas with some of his own. It’s not far off. … It looks like I should have a pretty easy time adjusting.”
Cleary said he returned to Detroit after turning down an offer for more money from the Philadelphia Flyers.
“Tuesday, I was ready to go to Philly,” Cleary said. “And then I just couldn’t go. I decided to come out and meet with Babs and Kenny to get closure on the situation. I had to know deep in my heart, ‘Was it going to happen?’ We figured out a way to get something to happen to get something signed.”
Cleary has played for the Red Wings since the 2005-06 season and has 160 career goals and 377 points in 869 NHL games. Detroit starts the preseason Monday at Pittsburgh and opens the regular season Oct. 2, hosting Buffalo.