old legends never die, they just take off their skates



it was bitterly cold, with snow and wind and ice all around. the perfect setting for the detroit red wing alumni game against the toronto maple leaf alumni, long time rivals, and two of the original six teams of hockey. the fans came out in droves, from both sides of the border and there were hockey sweaters and hats and blankets of both blue and red, as they played in comerica park, home of the detroit tigers. it was hockey, as it was meant to be played – outdoors, and in the elements.


the day was a fitting tribute to these men who spent much of their lives on the ice, playing a game that is incredibly hard on the body as well as the mind, and yet, they all came back for one more day, for a chance to experience what it felt like again, and for the fans, myself included, to have one more chance to remember what they did with such passion. 

they all returned, a bit older, a bit slower, a bit shakier, perhaps, but with the spirit that brought them to the ice in the first place. some didn’t wear helmets, some didn’t wear teeth, one goalie wore an old-school face mask, but they came to play as a team, just one more time.


so much history, so many stories, good, bad, and somewhere in the gray area in between, all here together again, they all came, for one day, the wings, so loved in this hockey town –  all here: 

the legends of the game – gordie howe and ted lindsay, tossed out the puck

the beloved former captain, steve yzerman, who hadn’t been on the ice in 7 years, since his retirement

sergi federov, who left the team for his own reasons, forgiven and welcomed back for a reunion with the russian 5, including konstantinov, so horribly injured during a stanley cup celebration

lidstrom , one of the greatest defensemen of all time, who took on the captain’s role when he retired, hard shoes to fill, now also retired

red berenson, mickey redmond – on the ice in their 70s, now having moved on to coaching and commentating, yet never having lost their love of being on the ice

scotty bowman – their legendary coach, came back to coach his stanley cup winners one more time 

jiri fisher – who tearfully had to retire early, due to a heart problem, the only man in this 30s on the ice 

joey kocur – wearing the jersey in memory of his hard-living teammate, bob probert 

the enforcers, the scorers, the grind line, the goalies – lapointe, chelios, mccarty, ciccarelli,, draper, osgood and on and on

they came older, and broken, and most somewhat the worse for wear, but for a moment, they lived their glory days on ice once again. and they’ve learned the the meaning of life off the ice since then. and they won both games, but that was the least of it. 


Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul. – Douglas MacArthur


image credits: m-live

36 responses »

  1. And so you loved the heck out of this alumni game, Beth. Great post. Athletes can teach us all a lesson. Age takes them off the stage but does not remove the passion from their hearts. I bet that even a little slower, they were pretty darn good back out on the ice. With some of them eschewing helmets for wool caps, it did remind me of a game on a pond in these photos, Beth. Wonderful way for you to ring out 2013, watching players who you’ll carry in your memory scrapbook forever.


  2. I grew up on the cold Canadian prairie and played, lived and breathed hockey for many years. The Chicago Blackhawks were my team back then, and Glenn Hall lived around the corner and was my inspiration for my own days as a goalie. Enjoyed your post, and I especially enjoyed the Douglas MacArthur quote … 🙂


  3. How fantastic you got to watch the game live, Beth! I only saw the announcement of the lineups, the anthems and the puck drop before I had to shower and get ready for my night out. 😦
    What a lovely summary/blog post, and I’m sure a fantastic experience for you!


  4. FYI, Mickey Redmond was my neighbor, and his wife was the realtor who sold our house when we moved.

    The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup three times while I lived there (1997, 1998, 2002) and each time Mickey hosted the team (and cup) at his house. He would not announce it ahead of time, but on those evenings he would go around the neighbors and invite them over (they could not call any friends – just the people who lived there).

    Each time we were out of town (once in Florida, and once in Hawaii, once visiting friends), and missed out on having our photo taken with the cup and players.

    He’s a nice guy, and used to plow our drive when we were away (he has all sorts of machinery).

    Funny story . . . I had just moved in (1991) and was working in the yard. This guy walks over, introduces himself, and asks me if I have any problem with him having a big dish antenna on his roof (he had to get approval from the neighbors). I said no, that I did not care (I didn’t).

    The next day I recounted the story at work, and found out who he was. You see, I did not then, nor do I now, follow hockey.

    Like I said, nice people.


  5. Wow brilliant Beth, it just goes to show that a lifetime in Hockey stays with each of them, indeed what a wonderful show of friendship and a commitment to challenge the elements for everyone once again 🙂

    Have a super Thursday my sweet friend and Happy New Year to you and all of your family 🙂

    Andro xxxx


  6. Big fan of hockey and had ‘crushes’ on the BGSU Canadians in the late 70’s that I would go watch practice outdoors, but mainly saw the games indoors! Fun stuff and loved that line about the alumni who some didn’t have helmets, some didn’t have teeth! Clever line, along with the tributes to those who were there and others, reliving their ‘glory days.’ Awesome and well written post, Beth! Got me charged up for the cold walk home from the library!


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