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Derek Lalonde Emphasizes Defense on Day One of Red Wings Training Camp

TRAVERSE CITY – The new-look Red Wings took the ice for day one of training camp Thursday morning at Centre Ice Arena.

The Red Wings’ busy offseason included nine free agent additions, a trade for goaltender Ville Husso and the hiring of a new coach in Derek Lalonde.

In the team meeting Wednesday night, Lalonde read off a lot of the team statistics from last season.

“I’m not going to repeat them right now. I’ll just tell you that obviously they weren’t very good, specifically on the [defensive] side of the puck,” said goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic.

Lalonde continued to emphasize team defense throughout the first practice on Thursday morning.

“That was today’s focus was on [defensive] zone coverage and managing the puck, making sure we knew what was going to happen in certain situations and just trying to make life easier for us,” Nedeljkovic said. “I think that’s going to obviously help a lot come game time. Just knowing where the puck is going to be, where the puck is going to go and everybody can read off of that.”

“Everyone knows that was an issue for us so [I was] just trying to put an emphasis on what we’re going to work on and what we’re going to try and improve on,” Lalonde said. “And you can see that started here on day one.”

The Red Wings defense is anchored by the reigning Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider. Detroit’s marquee defensive signing this offseason was veteran Ben Chiarot.

The Red Wings also signed Olli Määttä, Robert Hagg and Mark Pysyk to help on the blue line. Simon Edvinsson, the 19-year-old defenseman Detroit drafted sixth overall in 2021, has a chance to make the team out of camp as well.

Chiarot was paired with Seider on the first day of practice but Lalonde cautioned everyone to not read into line pairings early on in camp.

Lalonde did say he feels Chiarot is a perfect fit for what this defensive unit needs.

“I think there was a purpose with the signing of Ben Chiarot,” Lalonde said. “I think Steve [Yzerman] did a really good job with all of his signings to fill holes. Ben is someone who takes pride in keeping the puck out of the net and I think that will be a very good example for the rest of our team. I think he’s going to take a lot of pride and I think he’s going to front our ability to hopefully improve our team defense.”