Griffins’ Kronwall Turin-bound

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall’s conditioning assignment with the Grand Rapids Griffins ended on Monday when he departed for Turin, Italy, to join the taxi squad for Team Sweden at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

Kronwall, 25, was assigned to the Griffins on Feb. 11 and played his lone game with the club that night, helping Grand Rapids to a 4-2 win over Peoria. Following a mandated one-week break for the Olympics, he was expected to resume play for the Griffins this week but was instead summoned by his homeland’s team.

Winner of the Eddie Shore Awars as the American Hockey League’s outstanding defenseman and a First-Team All-Star as a member of the 2004-05 Griffins, Kronwall was expected to be a top-four defenseman for Detroit this season. However, he 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.

The men’s ice hockey preliminary round concludes on Tuesday. Quarterfinals on Feb. 22 and semifinals on Feb. 24 will lead up to the bronze medal game on Feb. 25 and the gold medal game on Feb. 26.