The Detroit Free Press recalls that the Red Wings tentatively had tagged Jan Mursak as a regular in their lineup last season, a plan that went nowhere after a slide into the end boards during an exhibition game shattered his left ankle.
By the time Mursak returned, the season was half over, and he was relegated to spot duty. He’s making up for it now, albeit 4,000 miles away, thriving as a go-to guy for his team in Austria.
Mursak has eight goals and 21 assists in 16 games and is tied for the team lead with 29 points. The Austrian hockey league is nowhere near on par with Sweden or Russia, or the NHL, but to see Mursak do well anywhere is great for the Wings, considering he’s only 24 and was in his rookie season last year. Had he not gotten injured, he would have pushed for a spot on the fourth line and as a penalty-killer. He played in just 25 games, producing three points.
“It’s interesting with ‘Sak, because ‘Sak was a guy, before he broke his ankle last year, we had him as being significant,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “By the end, he never even got to play. And he was disgruntled, probably, with us, and you wonder. Then he goes over, and I hear he’s one of the best players in Austria. So, fantastic for him.”
Mursak signed to play in Austria shortly after the lockout began Sept. 16.
“I’ve touched bases with a number of coaches; Pierre Page and George Kingston are over there,” Babcock said. “So, I touch base with those guys. So, it’s so easy to gather the information with people.”