The NHL Winter Classic will be coming to Detroit this season. Of course that is hoping that the owners and players come to a new CBA in time.
The Classic has become a huge event that goes beyond the NHL game. The Detroit version will be the first time a Canadian team has been allowed to join in the fun as the Toronto Maple Leafs will be playing in this year’s game.
The alumni game will be one of the feature events. Between these two clubs there are so many players interested in playing that there will be two alumni games held on December 31 at Comerica Park.
The roster seems to grow almost every day. As of now the Red Wings' roster includes: Mickey Redmond, John Ogrodnick, Luc Robitaille, Luc Robitaille, Dino Ciccarelli, Chris Chelios, Larry Murphy, Mark Howe, Chris Osgood, Mike Vernon, Kris Draper, Darren McCarty, Joey Kocur, Slava Festisov, Igor Larionov, Sergei Fedorov, Mike Vernon, Paul Coffey, Martin Lapointe, Mathieu Dandenault, Aaron Ward, Red Berenson, Jimmy Carson and Dennis Polonich.
Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Gordie Howe and Vladimir Konstantinov will also be in attendance.
The players that are still missing from the roster are pretty big. Beyond the obvious two there are several other players who will hopefully add their name to the list.
Yzerman will go down as one of the greatest players ever to call Detroit home in any sport. It seems wrong to have an alumni game of this magnitude and not have him involved. He has already said that he will not be playing.
Of course it is still early and hopefully former teammates will wear him down. One possible issue might be his knee. By the end of his career he had a difficult time getting up from the ice. While an alumni game is not nearly as physical as a regular NHL game, perhaps the risk of further damaging his knee is too great.
If that were true he could at least say so and ideally still attend and take part in some manner.
While my gut reaction is that of course Lidstrom will play, on second thought I wonder.
He will be freshly retired from the league. Perhaps playing in such a game will be too soon. Maybe it will entice him to make a comeback, which based on how the defense looks right now would be a great thing. He might decide to hold off just to make sure the temptation is not there anymore.
While I expect him to play it would not surprise me if he declined the offer.
Shanny played for the Red Wings from 1996-97 to 2005-06. He helped the team win three Stanley Cups with his great play. He ranks seventh in goals and ninth in points in franchise history
He has yet to commit to the game and one can only assume that it has something to do with his role in the league office. Ideally the league either grants him permission or strongly persuades him to take part in the game.
Doug Brown has yet to join the roster but it seems pretty safe to think he will be there. He already plays with the charity alumni teams. Brown was a part of the 1997 and 1998 championship teams.
The rest of the Russian Five have already committed to taking part in the game. At age 40, Kozlov is still playing in Russia. His availability may depend on if he plays pro hockey again next season.
Oates started his career with the Red Wings, playing his first four pro seasons in Detroit. He was recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as one of the best playmakers in league history.
It is hard to imagine the local guy will miss the game. He has been retired for one season and played his final four seasons with Detroit.
Burr has been very active with the alumni association so it is hard to believe that he will not be involved. He recently battled myeloid leukemia and his recovery from that could affect his decision.
Drake started and ended his 16-year career with the Red Wings. One of the best moments of the 2008 Stanley Cup championship was Drake being able to finally lift the cup.
Ysebaert is another member of the alumni association who figures to grab a roster spot. Rocket man was a part of the early 1990s teams. He played just over two seasons with the team but topped 34 goals in each of his two full seasons.
The Hall of Famer played 10 seasons with Detroit. He was high-scoring defenseman and topped 20 goals five times as a Wing.
The Red Wings were the team to help Klima defect from Czechoslovakia. Although he became a bit of a problem off the ice you would think 20-plus years would heal old wounds.
Sheppard is one of only six players to top 50 goals in a season while wearing he winged wheel. He played just over four seasons with the team and scored 152 goals and 265 points in 274 games.
Fischer's last game was the scariest moment in team history as he collapsed on the ice with heart issues. He later retired because of it. He is still a part of the organization as he works in player development. It is unknown if his health would allow him to participate, but for the fans to give him one last standing ovation would be great.
True he has not retired yet, but it appears obvious that the team has no room for him. Assuming he retires, he would be a given a chance to play in the alumni game.
PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings as well as many other sports.
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