Former Detroit Red Wings player Justin Abdelkader, 34, signed a professional tryout contract (PTO) with Detroit’s American League-affiliate in Grand Rapids.
“Justin works extremely hard — he’s a great pro,” Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “If he gets the opportunity, I wish him luck.”
Abdelkader is from Muskegon. Hence, he will have plenty of friends and family in attendance in Grand Rapids to watch him play.
“I knew Justin had been skating, coming off a major injury, trying to get back at it and see what opportunities are available,” Blashill said
Blashill compared Abdelkader’s situation to Mike Knuble’s situation in 2012-13. After a long career, Grand Rapids native Knuble joined the Griffins for one game. Then, the Philadelphia Flyers signed him to finish the season. Abdelkader presumably is looking for something similar.
“It’s pretty cool for those guys who grew up in west Michigan,” Blashill said. “To potentially play in Grand Rapids at the end of their career.”
If Abdelkader plays Saturday’s home game against Milwaukee, he establish a new record for the longest time span between appearances in a Griffins jersey. His last appearance was April 10, 2010, meaning he will have gone 4,305 days (11 years, nine months, 12 days) between his last appearance and this one.
The prevision record was 3,888 days (10 years, seven months, 22 days) from March 1, 2009 to Oct. 23, 2019 by Jonathan Ericsson.
The Red Wings bought out Justin Abdelkader before the 2020-21 season. The team will paying off Abdelkader’s contact through 2026. They are paying him more than $2.3 million this season and next season, and then will pay just over a million for the last three seasons.
After the Red Wings dropped him, Abdelkader went to Switzerland and played impressively in helping Ev Zug when the National championship. In the playoffs, Abdelkader netted six goals and added three assists for nine points in 13 games. He also amassed 47 penalty minutes.
After that season, he was captain for Team USA at the World Championships before suffering a tournament-ending knee injury.