Red Wings sign East Grand Rapids' Luke Glendening to three-year contract extension

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(DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Maybe some solid job security will help Luke Glendening soothe his psyche.

Glendening has received a contract extension of three years and $1,885,000 from the Detroit Red Wings, reinforcing what coach Mike Babcock has said about Glendening since January: This guy is key to the Wings' success.

When asked 10 days ago about who has been the team MVP, Babcock replied, "Luke Glendening" — and he was only half joking. Glendening, a former Wolverine, has been a defensive star thanks to his speed and work ethic. Babcock wanted Glendening, 24, on the Wings coming out of training camp, but there wasn't room. Steadily mounting injuries meant Glendening popped up from the minors on and off in the first half of the season, and he's now stuck since January.

That, however, has also translated into a historical tidbit Glendening wishes he hadn't accomplished. When he passed 45 games without a goal, he set a team record for longest among team rookie forwards without scoring. Glendening's drought was at 51 games as the Wings headed into Montreal for tonight's game (7 p.m., FSD, CBC).

"It's frustrating not to score," Glendening said. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't eat at me at times. It affects sometimes my psyche on the way I play.

"Everyone loves to score goals, you want to score goals, everyone when I go home is like, oh, have you scored? No, I haven't. So it's something that's on my mind, but I just want this team to win, that's the important thing, and hopefully one day I'll be able to contribute by chipping one in. Right now, whether it's a faceoff or a penalty kill, I'm just happy to be a part of it."

Glendening — whose locker at Joe Louis Arena ironically is next to Gustav Nyquist, the team's leading goal scorer — is valuable in other ways, like killing penalties, and being on the ice late in games when the Wings are protecting a one-goal lead.

Glendening also sits just a few stalls down from Darren Helm, who early in his career was known for unconverted breakaways. Helm made a point recently, Glendening said, of telling him that maybe Glendening is just "saving my goals for the playoffs."

Helm has turned into a nice little scorer, but as a former defensive specialist, he wants to make sure Glendening knows how he's a big part of the team.

"He's doing a great job defensively and that's what he needs to focus on," Helm said. "He gets the other team's top line. It's going to come for him, it's going to happen, but he's got to look at all the good he is doing to help this team win.

Contact Helene St. James: hstjames@freepress.com . Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames .

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