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Red Wings to join Mechanics


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Red Wings to join Mechanics

UHL club adds Hatcher, Chelios

February 1, 2005

BY GEORGE SIPPLE

DETROIT FREE PRES SPORTS WRITER

Derian Hatcher and Chris Chelios apparently are ready to play professional

hockey again in the Detroit area, and Kris Draper might join them. But

they will do so with the Motor City Mechanics, not the Red Wings.

The Mechanics have called a news conference for 10 a.m. today at Great

Lakes Sports City Arena in Fraser to announce the addition of two Red

Wings to their roster.

Multiple sources confirmed that Hatcher and Chelios were the players who

would sign today with the United Hockey League team. Team president John

Tull would not confirm they were the players, but added: "I'm not going to

deny that."

Draper said Monday that he would play, too, if he can get insurance.

The Red Wings players are available because of the NHL lockout, which

threatens to cancel the season. Some other Wings are playing in Europe.

Draper, who won the Selke Award last season as the best defensive forward

in the NHL, has been offered a lot of money to play in Europe and has

given it a lot of thought. But he doesn't want to uproot his family for

one or two months or live away from his wife and children that long.

"It's time to change things up," said Draper, 33, "and your options are

limited over here."

Playing for the Mechanics wouldn't be a sign that he and his teammates

have given up hope on the NHL season, Draper said.

"I don't know that you can say we've given up, but I think we're at the

point where it's this week or that's it, and there's no talks scheduled,"

he said.

Draper also wants to play for Canada in the world championships in Austria

this spring, and joining the Mechanics would allow him to get in shape and

stay home.

The pay won't be great, though. The UHL limits teams to a $260,000

payroll, and Draper acknowledged that he wouldn't be playing for big

bucks.

"When I say I'm playing for the love of the game, I mean I'm playing for

the love of the game," he said.

Messages seeking comment were not returned Monday night from Hatcher, a

Sterling Heights native, and Chelios, who owns a bar in Dearborn.

Both have been All-Star defensemen.

Asked if the Mechanics were looking to bolster their defensive corps, Tull

said: "We're looking to bolster our on-ice product."

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland had this reaction: "Players are free

to do what they want to do. Some have decided to go to Europe, some have

decided not to play, and some have decided to play in minor leagues in

North America."

The prospects for an NHL season are dim. No talks between players and

management were scheduled after a five-hour meeting last Thursday.

Told Chelios and Hatcher would sign with the Mechanics, Holland said: "If

it's Chris, it doesn't surprise me that Chris has decided to play. He's

been talking since November" about playing for the Chicago Wolves of the

American Hockey League.

"If it's Hatcher," Holland said, "he didn't get a chance to play much

hockey last year because of the ACL injury.

"Either we're going to play a short season or we're going to have a lost

season. Either way, I'm assuming Derian wants to get some hockey in."

Hatcher, 32, had no goals and four assists last season, when he played

only 15 regular-season games because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

He played in all 12 playoff games but had no goals and one assist.

Chelios, 43, scored two goals and made 19 assists in 69 regular-season

games. He had no goals and one assist in eight playoff games.

It is unclear when they will make their debut for the Mechanics, who play

at Flint at 7 p.m. Wednesday, then return home for a Friday night game

against Rockford. Motor City will have to juggle its lineup to make room

for Hatcher and Chelios.

League rules say a team can use only seven veterans -- anyone who has

played in 280 professional games -- in a game. The Mechanics already have

seven such players.

The Mechanics also will announce a new coach as a replacement for former

Red Wing Garry Unger, who will become vice president and director of

hockey operations.

"It's just a mutual decision amongst ownership to shake it up a little

bit," Tull said. "We're 10-29."

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boy this is too funny, the same players the Generals "supposedly" were in contact to play for them. Better watch out UHL, I have a feeling this will undoubtly be a huge turnaround for the mechanics.

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