Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Red Wings to play for UHL's Motor City Mechanics

According to ESPN reports, Chris Chelios and Derian Hatcher will sign with the Motor City Mechanics of the United Hockey League. In addition, Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby are considering joining their teammates to play for the local club. Mechanics' director of public relations, Lauren Segall, says that Chelios and Hatcher will sign Tuesday for "more than one game (so no one thinks it's a gimmick, I guess)."

You can recall that Chelios was throwing around the idea of joining the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, as he has family in Chicago. Cheli agreed to a deal with the Red Wings, but technically remains unsigned, since he has been having trouble finding insurance at his 43 years of age. You can also recall Cheli's folly of training with the Team USA bobsled team in hopes that he could qualify for the Greek team in the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Draper, who considered playing in Switzerland, decided against it and has been enjoying time with his family. In his time in metro Detroit, Draper joined Darren McCarty and former Red Wing Chris Osgood for a paintball tourney. Drapes on the possibility of playing for the Mechanics:

"I'm throwing around the idea. If everything works out, I might play. The opportunity to play some games, get some competition, Just to change things up because skating is getting monotonous."

And you can't have Draper without Maltby. They come as a package. Maltby on the Mechanics:

"I might consider it because it's local. I had considered playing with my brother in England but have decided I'm not leaving the country (so) maybe this wouldn't be a bad option."

The Mechanics are last in the UHL Central Conference, at an abysmal 11-29-6 record, so they could definitely make use of the prospective Red Wings. The UHL is a low tier league: it goes NHL, AHL, ECHL, then UHL (after which is CHL). Click here for the Mechanics' team website.

And for those who care, the Mechanics will be hosting a press conference tomorrow to enjoy their publicity and announce the signings of Hatcher and Chelios (and possibly Draper and/or Maltby). It starts at 10 am at “The Garage” (Great Lakes Sports City Arena, 34400 Utica Rd, Fraser, MI 48026). It will also be aired live over the internet.


At the press conference this morning, the Mechanics announced the signings of Chris Chelios, Derian Hatcher, and Kris Draper. As for Kirk Maltby, he has denied reports of joining the club.

Update 2 (Matt) Steve Ovadia over at Puck Update makes a good point about the possible effect of signings like this:

"So why are they doing it? Presumably it's a way to get some hockey in. But it's also a great way to undermine the NHL owners. The lucky people of Detroit are going to see NHL players playing hockey and not one dime will go into an NHL owner's pocket. Now imagine if key players in all 30 NHL markets started doing the same thing (the News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne reports some St. Louis Blues are rumored to be signing with the Missouri River Otters). Imagine if someone like Jaromir Jagr came back just to play for a non-NHL-owned franchise. Hockey fans would get hockey and stars, but the owners would get nothing. Plus, if the owners tried to establish a scab league, they'd have a heck of a time competing with genuine NHLers. Sure, the whole experiment would destroy the development of countless hockey players, but if you want to make an omelette, you've got to break some eggs. NHLers are bored and looking to play in the U.S. But they also see an opportunity to force the league to negotiate with them."
With so much talent already overseas, this scenario isn't as likely as it might have been but if the lockout goes on long enough and guys start to come back to North America, it's a possibility.


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