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Short Shifts

Read Mike Ilitch's 25-year-old letter to Detroit fan

Former Red Wings owner inspired young fan turned sportswriter with advice @NHLdotcom

Mike Ilitch, the owner of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers, was an important figure in the city's sports, but apparently his influence was not reserved for the playing surfaces.

After Ilitch's death was announced Friday, Detroit Free Press sportswriter Anthony Fenech shared a 25-year-old letter he received from the Red Wings owner that gave him advice for reaching the NHL.

Tweet from @anthonyfenech: Mike Ilitch wrote me back when I was four years old and wanted to be a hockey player

Fenech wrote Ilitch to ask guidance about becoming a Red Wings hockey player, and Ilitch sent a response on March 24, 1992 with four tips for achieving that goal. After praising the boy's penmanship, he told Fenech to practice his skating and be healthy, disciplined and smart since hockey players needed each skill to be successful.

Ilitch, who owned the Red Wings for 35 years and oversaw four Stanley Cup championships, closed the letter telling Fenech to keep him updated on his progress achieving those goals as he got older. Ilitch's suggestions were also helpful life lessons as well.

It was just another thoughtful gesture in a lifetime full of them from the business owner, who became a Detroit sports icon.

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