Red Wings general manager Ken Holland was looking to add a veteran defenseman to the team, and it appears he’s found one.
According to multiple reports, the Wings have signed defenseman Ruslan Salei to a one-year, $750,000 contract. (Terms include a potential $350,000 in bonuses, according to the Detroit Free Press.) The 35-year-old played the last two seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, and also with the Anaheim Ducks and Florida Panthers in his 13-year NHL career.
Back injuries restricted the 6' 1", 212-pound Salei to just 14 games last season with Colorado, but he recovered to captain the Belarus hockey team at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. In 842 career NHL games, Salei has 43 goals, 151 assists, and 1,017 penalty minutes.
Salei has previous experience with Wings coach Mike Babcock, playing for him in Anaheim from 2002 to 2004. He also has some history with fellow new Red Wing Mike Modano, as MLive.com's Ansar Khan points out:
Salei (6-foot-1, 212) brings a rugged, physical element to the defense. He was suspended for 10 games in October 1999 for checking Mike Modano, then with Dallas, from behind into the boards face-first. Modano sustained a concussion, strained ligaments in his neck and a broken nose.
One might assume that there are no hard feelings between the two, and the past is prologue (not to mention more than 10 years ago).
Salei is expected to be in Detroit's third pair of defensemen, teamed with Jonathan Ericsson.