SUNRISE, Fla. -- Stephen Weiss is trying to remember how hockey used to be fun. He had a lot of that while playing in the arena he found himself in Tuesday night, even if he suddenly didn't know his way around.
Like many players returning to a rink that was home for a decade, Weiss said he felt strange entering BB&T Center as a visitor as he came with his new team, the Red Wings, to play his old team, the Florida Panthers.
It didn't get any better in the evening, when Weiss was a minus-one after the Wings lost, 3-2, in a shoot-out. After 26 games, Weiss has four points, falling far short of being the upgrade at second-line center the Wings thought they were getting this summer.
To Weiss' credit, no one is more aware of how he's underperformed. "I haven't played to my potential and need to figure out the cause of that," he said. "I think we're starting to narrow that down. It's getting to that time now where you have to stop worrying about systems and where you're supposed to be on the ice, and just play. I've got to get it in my head to just play loose like I always have and I'll be fine.
"It's a different style and system we play here, there's a lot of responsibility as a centerman, and sometimes you can get stuck in the mud out there trying to be too positional, and I think that's been the case at times. The goal going forward is to scratch that mindset and go out and play and if you mess up, you mess up."
Weiss, 30, spent a decade playing for the Panthers before signing on for five years and $24.5 million with the Wings. In Florida, Weiss played in a system with far less emphasis on puck possession, for a team with far less tradition of winning. An adjustment period was expected, and wasn't helped as Weiss missed six games with a pulled groin last month.
Coach Mike Babcock cautioned that Weiss "is putting way too much pressure on himself. He's come to a new spot, hasn't gone like he'd liked. How do you get your confidence back? Well, to me, just get to work and be mentally tough.
"I think the first thing to admit to yourself it hasn't gone very good. He's done those things. We feel he's going to start playing better and better."
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