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Red Wings' Miller sees irony in locker room placement

by Corey Masisak

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Drew Miller spent three years as a player at Michigan State University. His brother, Ryan, was also a Spartan and one of the school’s two Hobey Baker Award winners.

Miller and fellow Michigan State alum Justin Abdelkader are in an interesting position this week as their Detroit Red Wings prepare for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Wednesday at Michigan Stadium against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He was in a really interesting position Tuesday when the Red Wings practiced at the Big House. Detroit is using the Michigan football locker room, and Miller is using one of the lockers that honors some of the great Wolverines players in program history.

"It is one of the legends ones or whatever, Desmond Howard," Miller said. "I guess it was just by chance of how the numbers went in order around the room. We were on the Fathers' Trip when I got a text from one of the equipment guys who stayed back here and he showed me a picture of it on the text.

Winter Classic Locker Room

(Click to view full-size image)

"I said, 'Burn the stall and put me in a folding chair.' I'm just joking. It is a situation where you put all that rivalry stuff aside and make the most of it. It is such an unique situation. You put all that other stuff aside."

Miller was actually misled about his place in the Wolverines locker room being a coincidence. The equipment manager who sent him the text message said Miller was actually supposed to be one stall over, but he couldn't pass up the chance to have some fun with the proud Michigan State alum.

"Someone's going to get it," Miller said when apprised of what actually transpired.

This will be Miller's first experience in an outdoor game. His brother played for the Spartans in The Cold War, a 2001 game against Michigan. Drew Miller was with the Anaheim Ducks organization when the Red Wings played the Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field.

"I've never been to a football game at the Big House," Miller said. "This is my first time in the bowl area and being around. It is a pretty amazing building. I don't really venture down here too often, so it needs to be a special occasion to get me here. This is one of those. I'm going to enjoy it. I think everyone knows I bleed green for Sparty. There's no question there."

Wednesday is a big day for all sports fans who "bleed green." Michigan State's football team, which defeated Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game, will be playing Stanford in the Rose Bowl after the NHL Winter Classic concludes. It is the first trip to Pasadena, Calif., for the Spartans since 1988 and only the second since 1966.

"My wife's family is from the Livonia [Mich.], area and my family is coming down, so we're going to get dinner after [the NHL Winter Classic] and the plan is to watch the game and hang out," Miller said. "It is going to be a fun day. Hopefully a good game here for us and hopefully a good game for the Spartans."

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