Red Wings Notebook: Chelios sits out opener

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DETROIT -- In a sign the NHL might be going over to youth, the Red Wings made veteran defenseman Chris Chelios a healthy scratch for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final last night.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock said it was a case of sticking with the same lineup that produced a 4-1 win against Dallas Monday that put his team in the final against the Penguins.

"All we're doing ... is we won last game and we're not changing," Babcock said. "The bottom line with Chelios is we've got a lot of respect for his ability and what he brings to the team. But this isn't about Chelios or about me, it's about the Detroit Red Wings and winning, and that's it."

Chelios, 46, missed the game Monday with what was called a leg injury.

It's entirely possible he will dress for at least one game before the series ends. He'll certainly bring a load of experience.

Consider:

Chelios was drafted 40th overall in 1981 by Montreal. Four members of that draft class -- Ron Francis (fourth overall), Al MacInnis (15th overall), Dale Hawerchuk (first overall) and Grant Fuhr (eighth overall) already have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.



One month after competing with the U.S. Olympic team in Sarajevo, Chelios played his first NHL game March 8, 1984, for the Canadiens at the Montreal Forum against the Hartford Whalers. Among his teammates were goaltender-turned broadcaster Greg Millen, current Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey and coach Guy Carbonneau.

Greg Malone, a former Penguins player and scout and father of current Penguins winger Ryan Malone, played for Hartford that night, as did Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett and former Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville.

Six members of the Penguins were not born then -- Jordan Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury, Tyler Kennedy, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.

Franzen out

As expected, Detroit played without winger Johan Franzen, who is getting closer to returning after being out the past two weeks because of concussion-like symptoms -- assuming the Red Wings' medical staff doesn't prolong his absence.

"If we keep sending him to doctors, pretty soon we'll find someone who will shut him down for his life, I'm pretty sure," Babcock cracked.

Entering the game, Franzen led all playoff scorers with 12 goals in 11 games.

Paek plays role in final again

Jim Paek has double reason to reflect on 1991 and '92, when he was part of the Penguins' two Stanley Cup teams.

Now an assistant with Detroit's minor league club in Grand Rapids, Paek joined the Red Wings when the minor league team's season ended, in time for this playoff run to the final. The fact that it is against the Penguins makes it extra special.

"You never forget those memories," Paek said. "It's a little different because back then I was a player, and now I'm a coach, but that's where all my success was as a hockey player, and to see them back in the finals, it's great for that organization for what they've gone through and it's great for the fans because I absolutely love the fans there."

Paek is working with the "Black Aces," a group of 11 players brought up to the Detroit roster who form a sort of separate practice group staying ready in case one or more needs to be called upon to play.


Shelly Anderson can be reached at shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721.


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