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HOW SWEDE IT IS

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall was assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday for conditioning. He is scheduled to be in the lineup tonight when the Griffins host the Peoria Rivermen in a 7 p.m. start at Van Andel Arena.

Kronwall, 25, was named the American Hockey League’s outstanding defenseman and a First-Team All-Star as a member of the 2004-05 Griffins. He set Grand Rapids blueliner records with 53 points and 40 assists last season, becoming the first defenseman to lead the team in either category.

Expected to be a top-four defenseman for Detroit this season, Kronwall suffered a knee injury in training camp that sidelined him through the end of January. Now working his way back into form, he has contributed three assists in three games since his return to the Red Wings on Feb. 1.

Although he will not participate, Kronwall was selected to Sweden’s team for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy, thanks in part to the starring role he played for his homeland during the 2005 IIHF World Championship. After scoring six points and helping Sweden to a fourth-place finish, he was named by the media to the tournament’s all-star team.

The Detroit Red Wings’ first choice (29th overall) in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Kronwall made his North American debut with the Griffins in 2003-04, contributing 13 points (2-11—13) in 25 games. Beginning with his NHL debut with the Red Wings on Dec. 10, 2003, he appeared in 20 consecutive games for Detroit, totaling five points (1-4—5). However, he sustained a season-ending broken leg during warm-up on Jan. 22, 2004 at Los Angeles, causing him to miss the 2004 Pepsi AHL All-Star Classic in Grand Rapids.

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