took the boys to
a street hockey camp
sponsored by the detroit red wings
after 1 1/2 hours of drills/training
on a very hot day
they played the game
and they would have played forever
“every day is a great day for hockey.”
now that my i have regained a bit of feeling in my fingers, i am able to type yet another hockey post. i went to another outdoor hockey game yesterday, yes that’s 2 days in a row. this time it was the winter classic, just a mile away from my little house in the big house, michigan stadium. usually the site of my university of michigan wolverines football team. this time it had been turned into an outdoor hockey pond and was a matchup between the current detroit red wings and the toronto maple leafs.
it began early in the morning, the temperature had dropped yet again, it had been snowing all night, continued on throughout the entire game, and is still snowing today. no matter, we began with a beer at the local wolverine brewery, donned our gear, and began the walk to the stadium. after about 100 feet, a van of wings’ fans picked us up and gave us a ride the rest of the way. it was a good sign.
upon arriving at the stadium, spirits were high, people were packing all kinds of whiskey and warmups into their hoods, security was impossible due to the bulky clothing, and i kicked many a beer can on my way in. fans from both countries poured in, excited, fired up, and oblivious to the weather.
even some of the wings and leafs players had a bit of soccer fun outside of the stadium before the game
once in, we quickly made our way to the concessions, where there was hot chocolate and both american and canadian beers to be purchased, and i encountered 2 very friendly canadian fans.
we then found our seats and settled in for the game. in a show of support, players from the alumni game the day before were in attendance, along with the usa women’s olympic hockey team. it was so cold and snowy, no one minded huddling with the enemy, and drinks and hand warmers and blankets were shared all around. loyal cheers and comments abounded, ‘now THIS is hockey!,’ ‘what it’s meant to be!’, ‘this is kick-ass!’, heard from fans nearby. cold drinks froze within minutes, and hot dogs and pizza were cold within seconds. could’ve used the suzy cozy beer mitt for this game. that is, before they ran out of molson, and hot chocolate, and pizza.
they played their hearts out and had to keep stopping the game for a crew to come out and snow shovel while skating.
in the end, it went into double overtime, with a stop of game right in the middle of our captain, zetterberg’s rush on goal, in order to trade sides and be fair, and resulted in a sad shootout loss for the wings. but they played like warriors, and that includes all those in the stands.
as we left the stadium, exhilarated and worn out, and walked a mile back to our brewery through deep snow and the ongoing blizzard, clad in layer upon layer of heavy clothing, (Imagine being a sumo running up a sand dune), we knew it had all been worthwhile. even if we couldn’t feel all our digits. upon arriving back at my cozy little cottage, i took off my layers, went directly into a warm bathtub with a glass of wine, and was asleep and dreaming about this magnificent day by 7:30pm.
the discarded layers: polar full length down jacket with hood, hoodie sweatshirt with hood, turtleneck, neck warmer, wrap around scarf, knee high lace up boots, thermal tops and bottoms, wool tights, red wings hat, 2 pairs of thermal socks, hand and foot warmers, blanket, seat cushion, ski band, thin gloves, ski gloves, running tights, and chapstick. bring it, winter.
Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory. – William Barclay
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