The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/11/12 at 09:36 PM ET
Updated 3x at 10:49 PM: Some might think that the Red Wings’ announcement that they’ll hold two Alumni games with the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival to be as bright as what Jordin Tootoo did for charity recently, but I tend to think that the decision makes sense on several fronts:
1. First and foremost, the Wings and Leafs alumni associations are two of the biggest and most wide-reaching in terms of their membership;
2. The Red Wings very specifically have several players in their front office who could still play, and more than a few of the alums from the 97, 98, 02 and 08 Cup teams will want to reprise their roles, and the mid-to-late-90’s Leafs weren’t half bad, either;
3. Alumni tend to come out of the woodwork for games like these;
4. And, put simply, both teams have very active alumni associations who put in countless hours and tons of travel to benefit charities, donating their time, energy, goodwill and I would imagine somewhat regularly gas, food and hotel bills to benefit others, and while George Bowman isn’t a household name, and Craig Wolanin never played for the Wings, I don’t think it’s fair to leave them out, if only as jersey-wearing representatives in the crowd.
Because I was not able to cover the stories that have rolled in this afternoon as I was busy this morning and until about 5:15 at the Wings’ summer development camp, here’s a source-by-source breakdown of the stories that have rolled in since the initial lineups were announced:
• If you missed it, the Wings’ website posted a clip of the presser:
• DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose penned an article about the initial roster announcement:
On Wednesday, [Red Wings GM Ken] Holland was joined along the first base line by [Ted] Lindsay, [Alex] Delvecchio, [Joey] Kocur and Dino Ciccarelli for the announcement. Meanwhile, the Leafs brought a contingent that featured vice president Dave Poulin, and former players Wendel Clark, Jim McKenny and Kevin Maguire.
Kocur and Ciccarelli plan to play in the alumni game along with former 50-goal scorers Mickey Redmond and John Ogrodnick and Hockey Hall of Famers Larry Murphy, Mark Howe and Luc Robitaille.
All four members of the Wings’ Grind Line, including Darren McCarty, Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby will play in the alumni headliner, as will goalies Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood. In all, Holland revealed 13 player names, but said more names will be known at later dates.
“We will announce players all throughout the summer and into the fall,” Holland said. “There are some players who recently retired and those players I’m going to ask in October and November. I’ve obviously brought it to the attention of Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and Sergei Fedorov, everybody wants to play, but at the end of the day they want to make sure that their calendar is clear, they want to make sure that they feel good about playing the game.”
The Leafs, who announced 10 players for the game, also plan to release names through the upcoming months. But for Poulin, who played 13 NHL seasons as a center with the Flyers, Bruins and Capitals, the best pitch that he can make to prospective alumnus is based on personal experience from last December’s alumni game at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.
“It’s an unusual event because it covers different generations,” Poulin said. “That’s the coolest thing about it. People assume that we all know each other if you played for a certain team like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. But many instances you don’t. An event like this pulls together different generations and as great as it is for fans, for a grandfather to be sitting with a father, to be sitting with a son, it’s as every bit as great for the players involved to see the players of our youth and to be able to share a locker room with them. It’s really something that can’t be explained, and as players you certainly don’t take that for granted.”
Who’s officially committed to the game?
We might want to bookmark this Red Wings roster link, because it states that Mark Howe, Chris Chelios, Chris Osgood, Darren McCarty, Jiri Fischer, Dino Ciccarelli, Joey Kocur, John Ogrodnick, Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, Darren McCarty, Larry Murphy, Luc Robitaille, Mickey Redmond, Alex Delvecchio, Igor Larionov, Mike Vernon and Ted Lindsay will all play for the Wings…
And Dave Andreychuk, Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour, Kevin Maguire, Mike Palmateer, Darryl Sittler, Rick Vaive, Johnny Bower, Ron Ellis, Curtis Joseph, Jim McKenny, Felix Potvin and Darcy Tucker are the initial Leafs commitments…
• If it matters, Sirius XM will be the presenting sponsor of the Hockeytown Winter Festival;
• As Zack Crawford notes, in addition to the Great Lakes Invitational, a pair of OHL games, a Grand Rapids Griffins game and an open outdoor Wings practice, Comerica Park will host a slate of prep games...
Ancillary events for the winter festival have been a work in progress ever since the participants and location of the Winter Classic were announced last February. But before the Great Lakes Invitational (GLI), AHL and OHL games and the Wings- Leafs Alumni Showdown take place, downtown Detroit will be buzzing with activity. From Dec. 15-26, the “Celebration of Hockey” portion of the Winter Festival will commence, featuring high school and youth hockey games, corporate outings and open skates at the rink to be installed on the field at Comerica Park.
So far, 10 prep games are slated with opponents for nine games scheduled to take place during the event’s first week. The list of participating prep teams includes a pair of boys state championship teams with Brighton (Division 1) and Birmingham Brother Rice (Division 2) squaring off against its rivals Howell and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook, respectively. A girls high school game is also planned between Northville and Grosse Pointe South, and cross-town foes Traverse City West and Traverse City Central will make the 250 mile trip to play at Comerica Park
Cody Inglis, athletic director at Traverse City Central, expressed his school’s enthusiasm for the opportunity to play at Comerica Park during the Hockeytown Winter Festival.
“We jumped on it right away,” Inglis said. “We felt it was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for our kids. So we jumped on it right away and can’t tell you how excited we are.”
• Bill Roose also notes that two Wings prospects will take part in the OHL games, and, obviously, the Grand Rapids Griffins are essentially the Junior Wings:
“It’ll definitely be a great experience,” said Saginaw goalie Jake Paterson, whom the Red Wings selected in the third-round of last month’s NHL draft. “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s the first time the OHL has done something like this so it’ll be really cool to be a part of it. My being drafted by Detroit and the fact that the game is being played at Comerica Park makes things it even more special.”
Not only will the junior league play in its first-ever outdoor game in December, it will see four of its member clubs compete on a one-day doubleheader at Comerica Park, the home to Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers. The games will be played on Saturday, Dec. 29. Announced during a news conference held Wednesday morning near the first-base line at Comerica Park, the OHL doubleheader will feature two teams from Michigan – the Saginaw Spirit and Plymouth Whalers – and two from the neighboring Canadian province of Ontario – the Windsor Spitfires and London Knights. Windsor will play Saginaw, and Plymouth will face-off against London.
Besides Paterson, it’s expected that Wings’ prospects and London forward Andreas Athanasiou, will also be part of the festivities in late December. Athanasiou, the Wings’ fourth-round pick last month, will join his Knights teammates, including Maple Leafs’ draft pick Ryan Rupert, when the defending OHL champions take on the Whalers.
“It’s going to be a great experience for the Knights’ organization,” Athanasiou said. “For the players, I think we all grew up playing on the ponds outside during winter with our buddies, being out there for a good six or seven hours so it will be cool for sure to play a junior game like that.”
Another day of exciting hockey is planned for Dec. 30 when the Grand Rapids Griffins will host to the Toronto Marlies in an AHL contest. The Griffins-Marlies game will be the fifth time that the AHL has ventured outdoors in its 76 year history.
NHL.com: NHL.com’s Brian hedger also attended the presser:
“We decided to have two alumni games so that we can honor probably 23 to 25 players on two different teams,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said at a press conference Wednesday held on the infield grass at Comerica Park. “We can have 75 to 80 or maybe 100 of the greatest players in Red Wings and Leafs history (involved). (We’re) not exactly sure how we’re going to break down the game. That’s going to be for another time, but I’m looking at this game as a trip down Memory Lane. For me, as a fan, to be able to sit in this stadium and watch all these great Red Wings players and Leafs players on the same sheet of ice is going to be absolutely incredible.”
“I don’t know who does all the decision-making (for rosters) for both sides, but it’s got to be tough,” Maple Leafs alumni player Wendel Clark said. “Both teams have been around forever and both have great histories and both have tons of players in the areas they live in and throughout North America, so it’s probably tough to pick the 20 guys.”
Hall of Fame forward and Red Wings alumni player Dino Ciccarelli agreed that two games are a good idea.
“The big game will be the second game, but there’s other guys involved with the alumni that want to be a part of it, as well,” said Ciccarelli, who represented the Detroit alumni Wednesday along with Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio and Joe Kocur. “There’s not enough room (on the benches) for one game, so it’s nice to see they’re getting more people involved. There’s a lot of people who want to be involved in this. Us older guys didn’t get a chance (to play an outdoor game), so it’s nice to be a part of it.”
Lindsay, Delvecchio and Gordie Howe are expected to make appearances but not play.
Noticeably absent from the Red Wings alumni roster were the team’s past two captains and Detroit legends: defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and center Steve Yzerman. Lidstrom retired this offseason and hasn’t committed one way or the other as to whether he’ll play in the alumni game. Yzerman—now general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning—has said he will not play. That doesn’t mean he won’t make an appearance. He’s likely to get more prodding from former Red Wings teammates and other prominent alumni to join in the fun—same for Lidstrom.
“I can’t see why Nick wouldn’t play and we could sure use him on defense,” Kocur said. “I don’t know that Stevie has really put skates on since he retired. From what I understand, he has never put the skates on ... and he had a lot of tough injuries, his knees and stuff like that. But I can guarantee there’s a lot of calls going into him. There’s a lot of lobbying, trying to get him here. Every player that’s involved would love to have him here and would make a personal plea for him to show up.”
Associated Press: Here’s the AP’s Noah Trister’s alumni game(s) story:
“You’ve got two teams that have been in the league forever,” said Wendel Clark, who is among the former players lined up to represent the Maple Leafs. “It’s a great idea to have the second one to open up the option to have more guys to be a part of it.”
Representatives from both teams announced preliminary rosters at a news conference Wednesday at Comerica Park, where the alumni games are scheduled to take place Dec. 31. The 2012-13 editions of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs will play the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Chris Chelios and Larry Murphy are expected to appear for the Red Wings at the alumni games, along with Mickey Redmond, John Ogrodnick, Luc Robitaille, Dino Ciccarelli, Mark Howe, Chris Osgood, Mike Vernon and Alex Delvecchio.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland also said four members of Detroit’s “Grind Line”—Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty and Joe Kocur—are expected.
“Four guys on one line,” Holland said.
Clark was ready with a retort.
“It felt like that some nights,” he said.
Clark, Darryl Sittler and Doug Gilmour are expected to represent the Maple Leafs, along with Rick Vaive, Darcy Tucker, Felix Potvin, Mike Palmateer, Kevin Maguire, Dave Andreychuk, Curtis Joseph, Johnny Bower, Ron Ellis and Jim McKenny. More players will need to be added, obviously, and Holland said he’d certainly reach out to former Detroit stars like Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov and Nicklas Lidstrom
“Obviously we’re going to ask all them,” Holland said. “Some people we’ve asked. They’re interested. They want to make sure they can clear their schedule.”
ESPN: ESPN’s article is uncredited, but timely:
“When we began the process of determining who should be on the roster for the Red Wings alumni team, it became very obvious, very quickly, that we simply did not have enough room on one bench to hold enough of the many deserving players,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said in a statement released by the team. “When we contacted Toronto and asked them what they thought about the possibility of two games, they immediately breathed a sigh of relief as they were going through the exact same issues we were in trying to fit all these players on one team.”
Fans will now get to see two games featuring close to 100 players at Comerica Park.
Red Wings confirmed to appear: 50-goal scorers Mickey Redmond and John Ogrodnick; Hall of Famers Luc Robitaille, Dino Ciccarelli, Chris Chelios, Larry Murphy and Mark Howe; all four members of ‘The Grind Line’—Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty and Joe Kocur; Stanley Cup-winning goaltenders Chris Osgood and Mike Vernon; and Red Wings legends Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Alex Delvecchio.
Maple Leafs confirmed to appear: Hockey Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler; 50-goal scorer Rick Vaive; fan favorites Darcy Tucker, Felix Potvin, Mike Palmateer and Kevin Maguire; Stanley Cup champions Dave Andreychuk and Doug Gilmour; rough and tumble winger Wendel Clark; 454-win goaltender Curtis Joseph; and Maple Leafs legends Johnny Bower, Ron Ellis and Jim McKenny.
Tickets to the alumni game will go on sale to Red Wings and Maple Leafs season ticket holders on Aug. 1 and be open to the public in mid-August.
• MLive’s Josh Slaghter ran with the Gordie Howe angle…
The Winter Classic is getting a little bigger, and it will include another appearance from “Mr. Hockey” on the ice.
Fans of the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will be treated to two alumni games Dec. 31 at Comerica Park as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival, Detroit general manager Ken Holland announced today.
“When we began the process of determining who should be on the roster for the Red Wings alumni team, it became very obvious, very quickly that we simply did not have enough room on one bench to hold enough of the many deserving players,” Holland said in a release. “When we contacted Toronto and asked them what they thought about the possibility of two games, they immediately breathed a sigh of relief as they were going through the exact same issues we were in trying to fit all these players on one team.”
• Peter Krupsky offers the Plymouth Whalers’ angle…
The festival goes from Dec. 15-31 at Comerica Park in a unique celebration of hockey at all levels of the game. The Ontario Hockey League will be featured on Saturday, December 29 with the league’s first-ever doubleheader outdoors – Windsor vs. Saginaw at 1 pm, then Plymouth and London at 5 pm.
Plymouth general manager and head coach Mike Vellucci attended the press conference and looks forward to seeing his team and the OHL playing on Dec. 29.
“As a kid, growing up in Detroit, you always wanted to come to Tiger Stadium, or now to Comerica Park,” Vellucci said, as he stood on the Comerica Park field, just outside the first base line. “So it’s exciting standing here right now. There was a lot of talk about it before, but now, it’s coming to a realization when you stand here and look at all the seats and how it’s going to be designed.”
Although the Whalers have developed a strong niche of fans in Plymouth and the surrounding community, playing in the Winter Festival will present an opportunity to increase awareness to many more fans. Vellucci was quick to mention the talent level of the OHL and Canadian Hockey League and other factors that are commonplace in the league.
“It is great for the awareness,” Vellucci said. “But the game will showcase the talent that comes out of our league. We have four first round picks on our team (Tom Wilson, Stefan Noesen, Rickard Rakell, JT Miller), London’s going to have a few and Windsor has a few. It’s exciting to showcase the talent. I think the rest of Detroit-area is going to see how passionate the Windsor fans and London fans are – they both sell out their buildings – 9,100 (in London) and 6,100 (in Windsor). They’re all going to be here, plus more. It should be a great crowd and hopefully a capacity crowd watching OHL hockey.”
• And the Saginaw News’s Kyle Austin spoke to Saginaw Spirit president Craig Goslin:
The Dec. 29 games — the Spirit will play the Windsor Spitfires at 1 p.m., and the Plymouth Whalers and London Knights will play at 5 p.m. — will mark the first outdoor games in league history.
Tickets will go on sale to Spirit season ticket holders and sponsors July 15, and to the general public Aug. 1. Fans can call the Spirit store at 497-7747 to reserve a spot on the waiting list.
Goslin, through his status on the OHL’s board of governors and his relationship with Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland, who has helped put the event together, was able to speak for the league at Wednesday’s event.
“He’s certainly a good friend, and I’ve kind of been the point person for the OHL, when it comes to this event,” Goslin said.
Holland said that once the plan was set to hold the Winter Classic and Winter Festival at two different sites, the work went on to include other hockey teams in Michigan. The festival will include hockey games at nearly every level, including AHL, CCHA, high school and more.
“We wanted every league to have an opportunity to showcase their players and their product out here,” Holland said. “Obviously having Saginaw and Plymouth and Windsor and London, they’re all within two hours of Detroit, it was a no-brainer.”
Detroit News: The Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa filed an article about the presser, and he offered some concrete ticket info:
“As we promised you back in February, the addition of the 2012 SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival will provide two weeks of exciting events for fans of all ages to celebrate the great sport of hockey in the city of Detroit,” said Tom Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Olympia Entertainment. “I’m pleased to announce that tickets to the Ontario Hockey League doubleheader, the American Hockey League matchup between the Grand Rapids Griffins and the Toronto Marlies and the 48th Annual Great Lakes Invitational will go on sale to the public on August 1. The 2012 Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings Alumni Showdown now a special two-game event for just one ticket, will go on sale to Red Wings and Maple Leafs season ticket holders on August 1, followed by a public on sale in mid-August.”
In the two weeks leading up to those hockey games, which are scheduled before the Red Wings play the Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in front of what is likely to be a record-setting crowd, the Winter Festival at Comerica Park will include an outdoor Red Wings practice that will be open to the public, local high school hockey games, youth hockey games and open skates, including a Skate with Santa.
Complete information is available at http://www.DetroitRedWings.com/2013WinterClassic.
The Red Wings said that additional player announcements for the alumni games will be made in the coming weeks as both teams continue to confirm participation.
Detroit Free Press: The Free Press’s Helene St. James also filed a report from the presser…
“The Detroit-Toronto rivalry, over the years, Detroit’s won 275 games, Toronto’s won 276,” Holland said as the sun bathed the baseball stadium. “Math wasn’t my best subject, but we’re one game down — if we can win the alumni game, we can make the hockey game at the Big House the ultimate rubber match.”
Holland said as he started out the process with the alumni game, “we felt we had so many players that we wanted to bring out and honor and be a part of these alumni games, and Toronto is in the same situation, that we decided to have two games.” That went over especially well with one of the attendees, who joked he might not have made the cut otherwise.
“I remember talking to Kenny Holland,” Dino Ciccarelli said. “I felt like a kid again, I’m trying to make the team and you’re calling the coach, right? He goes ‘Dino, I don’t know, you’re on the bubble, you might make the team, you might not.’ Some of the names, you know, I was a kid, idolizing these guys when I was 10, 12 years old. So to be a part of it, shaking their hands and being a part of the event, is another dream come true.”
Rosters haven’t been finalized, but Detroit’s also includes Chris Osgood, Chris Chelios, Luc Robitaille, Larry Murphy, Mark Howe, Mickey Redmond and Mike Vernon. Ted Lindsay and Alex Delvecchio are on the list of players who at the very least will attend, as is Gordie Howe. Toronto’s roster includes Darryl Sittler, Darcy Tucker, Felix Potvin, Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk and Wendel Clark.
Lindsay said he had a good feeling recently retired defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom would join the fun: “I’d be surprised if he doesn’t. He’s a class guy. I think he’d recognize what this city has meant to him, and the hockey fans.”
The Wings don’t anticipate fielding Steve Yzerman, who’s the general manager in Tampa Bay. Sergei Fedorov, the general manager of CSKA Moscow in the KHL, also hasn’t committed.
If there is a downside to such an incredible event, it is the fact that the demand from alumni who would like to participate in the game far outweighs the number of positions available. Kocur is the alumni president, but it is Red Wings general manager Ken Holland who is in charge of actually extending invites.
“For something this exciting, every player who ever played for the Red Wings or the Leafs would like to be here,” Kocur said. “That’s the only hard thing about it is that that can’t happen.”
While Lindsay, Delvecchio, Chris Chelios, Mark Howe, Dino Ciccarelli, Larry Murphy, John Ogrodnick, Chris Osgood, Mike Vernon, Mickey Redmond and Luc Robitaille are slated to be part of the team, there were two names – Nick Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman – that were notably absent. Naturally, the media asked Kocur if either could be convinced to participate in the game.
“I would hope so,” Kocur said.
“I can’t see why Nick wouldn’t play. We could sure use him on defense. I don’t know that Stevie has put skates on since he retired. From what I understand he’s never put the skates on. He had a lot of tough injuries with his knees and stuff like that but, I can guarantee there’s a lot of calls going in to him and a lot of lobbying going on. He’s with a different organization, too, which makes it a little more difficult for him. Everyone who’s playing here would make a personal plea to him to show up.”
Windsor Star: The Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell tried to balance Wings and Leafs’ alums comments, but this isn’t a Leafs blog, so…
“We announced 10 or 11 (players) today, but we’ll have 30 or 40 and maybe even 50 before we get into the game,” Holland said. “I’m hoping a lot of them are going to play. We’re going to try and get as many of the greatest Red Wings to play in the 90-plus year history of this great organization. We’re going to really start reaching out now.”
Kocur, who is president of the Wings’ alumni, said he’s just glad the rosters are Holland’s problem to deal with. That leaves him and his teammates free to do some serious lobbying in hopes of loading the Wings’ teams up with some of their recently retired stars. Among the targets will be Nick Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov.
“Nick (Lidstrom), I can’t see why Nick wouldn’t play,” Kocur said. “We could sure use him on defence.
“I don’t know that Stevie has really put skates on since he retired. He had a lot of tough injuries, his knees and stuff like that. I can guarantee there’s a lot of calls going to be put into him. There’s a lot of lobbying, trying to get him here.”
Ciccarelli sounded like a fan talking about the event. Though he’s a hockey hall of famer, the Sarnia native still has a lot of little boy left in him.
“I kind of feel old, all their three goalies I’ve scored against,” Ciccarelli said. “Actually I’ve scored against all (the) goalies, now that I think about it. I mean geez, I was 14-15, dreaming of playing in the NHL and I was Darryl Sittler as a kid outside in my backyard rink. You’re playing against guys you idolized. You’re playing outside in front of 40,000 people and it’s New Year’s Eve. Does it get any better than that? We’re like kids out here and we’re going to have a great time.”
Fox Sports Detroit: Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji wrote a stellar report, too, but to cut out some repetition, here are some different quotes:
“Everything we’ve had a chance to do in our NHL careers just from the first day you got drafted to the first day you played a game to your first goal, you just don’t know that it can keep getting better,” Kocur said. “Watching the Winter Classics over the last few years and wondering if Detroit was ever going to play in one at home, because when they played in Chicago there was no alumni game. To hear the announcement and get the call from Kenny (Holland), if I wanted to play, it was just another special moment in my NHL and Red Wing career.”
While former enforcer Kocur claims that “we’ve all forgotten how to fight,” he also said it’s going to be great to face off against some former bitter foes and play with some of his favorite former teammates.
“Getting back with the Grind Line, I think that’s going to be very exciting,” Kocur said. “Playing against Wendel again, we had some good battles back in the day. I haven’t heard their whole roster but they’ve got a lot of guys that we’d had some good battles with. It would be funny if some of those guys were in the lineup next to you, kind of laugh about the old times and how we used to hate each other.”
Holland noted that in the long rivalry between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs that the Wings have won 275 games and the Leafs 276.
“If we can win the alumni game, that sets up the ultimate rubber match,” for the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Holland said.
Don’t think these alumni players are taking the game lightly, either.
“I don’t think it’s going to change just because it’s an alumni game,” Ciccarelli said. “It’s in our blood and obviously we want to win and want to produce.”
Best of the Leaf Media:
• The Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran noted the following:
The two games will be played for the price of one ticket. Tickets for the alumni game will go on sale Aug. 1 at http://DetroitRedWings.com http:,//ticketmaster.com or by calling 313-396-7575.
Holland made the surprise announcement Wednesday at Comerica Park, home of baseball’s Detroit Tigers that will be the site of week-long winter festivities that will include college and junior games.
The NHL game will take place at Ann Arbor, Mich., with more than 100,000 in attendance at the University of Michigan’s football stadium. Tickets for that game are available currently only to season ticket holders as part of a pre-sale process.
• Of note from the Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan:
The 2012 Hockeytown Winter Festival at Comerica Park in the days before the Winter Classic includes the following events. Tickets will go on sale on Aug. 1; for the alumni games, Leafs and Wings season-ticket holders will get a crack at the first sale on Aug. 1, with a general sale in mid-August:
• Dec. 15-26 – Celebration of Hockey amateur games, corporate outings and open skates. Information on booking ice time can be obtained by visiting http://DetroitRedWings.com/icetime
• Dec. 27-31 – Outdoor festival featuring interactive games, autograph signings, face painting and ice sculpture exhibits as well as musical performances and live entertainment
• Dec. 27-28 – Great Lakes Invitational featuring the Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, Western Michigan Broncos and Michigan Tech Huskies in the 2012 MacInnes Cup
• Dec. 29 – OHL double-header featuring the Windsor Spitfires vs. the Saginaw Spirit and the Plymouth Whalers vs. the London Knights
• Dec. 30 – AHL game, Grand Rapids Griffins vs. Toronto Marlies
• Dec. 31 – Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings Alumni Showdown doubleheader
And Joey Kocur speaking to the media:
In other news, NHL.com’s Brian Compton notes that Mike Modano was named one of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2012 inductees on Wednesday, and the Wings’ website took note of Modano’s accomplishments...
With a professional career that spanned over 21 NHL seasons, Modano is the league’s all-time goal-scoring and points leader among American-born players with 561 goals and 1,374 points. Modano also holds records for the most NHL playoff points (145) by an American-born player and games played (1,499) by an American-born forward. Additionally, Modano holds Dallas Stars franchise records for most games played (1,459), goals (557), assists (802) and points (1,359).
Drafted first overall by the Minnesota North Stars in the 1988 NHL draft, Modano went on to win the 1999 Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars. He was also a part of the U.S. Men’s National Team that captured the gold medal at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and helped Team USA to a silver-medal finish at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
The Livonia, Mich., native played 20 seasons with the Stars franchise (1989-2010) before joining the Red Wings for the 2010-11 season, his last in the NHL.
Modano played in eight NHL All-Star Games during his career and represented Team USA 11 times in international competition across three decades, including the 2002 and 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
According to the Free Press’s George Sipple, Modano made sure to mention his Detroit ties:
“Obviously, huge hockey development going on there with Little Caesars and Compuware,” Modano said today of his youth.
Modano was born in Pontiac. He lived in Highland till he was 13, then in Westland until he was 15. Westland is home to the Mike Modano Ice Arena.
“Being able to know the Ilitches at an early age in my life, and what they meant to us and Little Caesars, the opportunity to travel and play in a lot of cities ... we had tons of access because of the Ilitches,” Modano said.
Modano came back home to play for the Detroit Red Wings, owned by Ilitch, in 2010, after playing 20 seasons with the Minnesota/Dallas franchise.
“Making it full circle and me coming back to play for the Wings was, obviously, one of those dream scenarios where you could finish your career where you grew up, play in front of family and friends and play for an Original Six team,” Modano said. “I think the experience with the Wings was one that far exceeded my expectations about going home and being involved with some of the best players in the game at that time. Being around (Wings general manager) Kenny Holland was certainly a treat.”
• Of very important note from the Windsor Star’s Julie Kotis: the Stanley Cup is coming to Amhertsburg, Ontario on August 21st:
[Amhertsburg] Mayor Wayne Hurst announced Wednesday morning that Kevin Westgarth of the L.A. Kings will bring the Stanley Cup to town on Aug. 21.
The Amherstburg native and Kings forward, along with his teammates, defeated the New Jersey Devils 6-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final to clinch the series June 11 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Hurst said there will be a parade, beginning at Canadian Tire and culminating at the United Communites Credit Union Complex, where the public will have an opportunity to meet Westgarth and view the Cup. Times are yet to be announced.
“It’s our complete pleasure that, that Kevin is going to be able to bring this cup to our community and it’s every young Canadian’s dream to be able to, if not play for the Stanley Cup, play for the NHL, at least to be able to see the Stanley Cup itself,” Hurst said at a new conference at the UCCU Complex, attended by Westgarth’s parents Reg Westgarth and Gilda Poitras.
• The Tomas Holmstrom post is bumming me out, but it’s worth noting that the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness spoke to Ken Holland about the reasons why Holmstrom’s being squeezed out of the Wings’ roster:
[W]hat the Wings did was add three forwards on July 1 – Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and Damien Brunner. There is also Gustav Nyquist.
“We want to give him an opportunity,” Holland said of Nyquist. “Homer knows there’s a lot of competition. No one knows as well as Homer does of how hard he’s worked and how hard he has competed and how hard he’s gone to the hard areas for over 1,000 games since 1996. That’s a conversation that him and I need to have and talk it over.”
Last season, Holmstrom played in his 1,000th game, becoming just the sixth player in a Wings’ uniform to do so. He has made a living around the blue paint of the goal crease since joining the team. While Holmstrom has seen his minutes drop, his contributions on the power play are still valuable.
“We made some moves up front,” Holland said. “We probably have 13 or 14 NHL forwards. If Homer wants to come back and he thinks he still has some hockey left in him and can play on the power play and be the net-front presence then we’ll see.”
There is also a bit of a numbers concern since the Wings currently have 46 players on contract, which doesn’t include restricted free agents Justin Abdelkader and Kyle Quincey, and are limited to a 50-man roster.
“His role has changed on the team obviously,” Holland said. “It’s hard to think a 39-year-old can play on the top line and play 18 minutes against some of the other team’s best players, but Homer has a lot of will and determination and right now he’s deciding what he wants to do with the rest of his life.”
Detroit was in a similar situation with Kirk Maltby in 2010. Maltby wound up signing a one-year, two-way deal with the team prior to the start of training camp to compete for a roster spot. Maltby failed to win a spot when camp ended and was placed on waivers. Instead of going to Grand Rapids to play, Maltby decided to retire.
“If he’s not going to play he is going to want to be sure that if he’s walking away he’s never going to play again,” Holland said. “He’s earned the right to take as long as he wants.”
• I am merely going to suggest that NHL.com’s Dan Rosen’s estimation of the cost to acquire Rick Nash for all the teams on Nash’s trade-approved list, including the Wings, is speculative at best;
• And given Jordin Tootoo’s ballsy performance for charity, I think I’ll give the last word to the Northern News Services’ Darrell Greer:
The popularity of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings received a huge boost in Nunavut earlier this month when Rankin Inlet’s own Jordin Tootoo inked a three-year deal worth $5.7 million with the Motor City club on July 1.
Tootoo, 29, had spent his entire career with the Nashville Predators, scoring 46 goals and adding 79 assists during his nine years with the franchise. He set a personal best in 2011-12 with 77 games played, as well as 24 assists, 30 points and an average icetime per game of 13:09.
Rankin resident Gabe Garlik said the entire community is excited about Tootoo signing with an Original Six team. He said the fact Detroit is a perennial legitimate Stanley Cup contender only heightens the excitement.
“It would really be something if he won a Cup with Detroit and brought it home to Rankin Inlet for a day,” said Karlik. “If that happens, the celebration would be so huge they should just shut the hamlet down for a week and call it a Cup holiday.”
And if you didn’t see the other “cup”:
Update: The Wings’ website posted a clip of Bryan Rufenach Day scrimmage highlights:
• Shane Doan’s agent claims to USA Today’s Kevin Allen that SIXTEEN teams are interested in his client and “four or five” have offered him contracts;
And this is pretty cool:
Even Kocur was in awe today. He picked up autographs from Ted Lindsay and Alex Delvecchio. twitter.com/wingsfrontman/…— Chuck Pleiness (@wingsfrontman) July 12, 2012
Update #2: Currich5 also posted clips of Alex Delvecchio…
And Ted Lindsay:
Update #3: MLive’s Phillip Zaroo posted another Winter Classic Alumni game story:
Some of the more recent superstars will get an invitation, too – guys like Steve Yzerman, Nick Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov. The current team’s needs have kept Holland busy, though, considering the NHL draft and July 1 free agency, among other events, have taken place in the last couple of months.
“We’re going to ask all of them,” [Holland] said. “The people we’ve asked are interested, they’re just making sure their schedules allow it. We announced 10 or 11 today, but we’ll have 30 or 40 and maybe even 50 before we get into the game. I’m hoping a lot of them are going to play. We’re going to try and get as many of the greatest Red Wings to play in the 90-plus year history of this great organization.”
Most of the younger players talked about how excited they were to be playing along some of the same men they admired while growing up watching and playing the game.
“I kind of feel old,” admitted Ciccarelli. “All their three goalies, I’ve scored against. Actually I’ve scored against all six goalies, now that I think about it. Does that mean I’m that old? I guess guys like Darryl Sittler and Ron Ellis, I mean geez, I was 14 or 15, dreaming of playing in the NHL and I was Darryl Sittler as a kid outside in my backyard rink. Now I’m going to be playing against these guys in a big game. You think of things like that. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be so much fun, seeing some of my old teammates. You’re playing against guys you idolized, you’re playing outside in front of 40,000 people and it’s New Year’s Eve. Does it get any better than that? We’re like kids out here and we’re going to have a great time.”
Kocur couldn’t help but think back to his childhood, as well.
“We’ve got them right here,” he said. “Ted, Alex, Nick Libett, with Gordie (Howe). And they live in the area. So we’re lucky enough to be with these people a lot so we’re kind of spoiled. But it’s just amazing, the guys that we’ve been watching. Like they said, you know how many Hall of Famers are going to be playing in this game? I just can’t wait to get out and be a fan, be a kid again and get autographs. As you can see, I’m waiting to get Ted’s right now.”
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