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