Nashville Predators center David Legwand
doesn’t remember his first trip to Joe Louis Arena.
“I was probably five or six years old,” Legwand said. “We didn’t go to many games. We watched them on TV, but that was about it.”
He may not have any memories of his first trip to the home of the Detroit Red Wings, but Legwand does have plans to do whatever he can to be remembered by his hometown in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“We will be up for a test when we go in there,” Legwand said. “We have to get a win Sunday.”
Legwand had an assist in Friday night’s 3-2 loss at Bridgestone Arena. He leads the Predators in every offensive category in the postseason with 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in 39 Postseason games. He also has scored more points against the Red Wings during his career than any other Nashville skater, with 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists).
Like many young athletes Legwand was attracted to the Red Wings games because he loved hockey. Red Wings sweaters and T-shirts were not part of his apparel. But he did develop a great respect for the franchise.
“They had some pretty good teams when I was growing up,” Legwand said. “They have been the class of the league for a long time. I think every organization should try to emulate them and do the things they do as an organization. That is what we have done here.”
Legwand does have one Detroit player that stands out for him -- former center Steve Yzerman.
“Obviously, everyone loved Stevie Y and the things that he did to become a captain and a leader,” Legwand said. “He did the right things out there. They won three or four Stanley Cups with him.”
Trotz doesn’t think Legwand has been heavily influenced by Yzerman’s style of play. But he does see some similarities in the way each approaches a game, but he sees more contrasts between the two.
“They both make intelligent plays on the ice,” Trotz said. “David grew up where Stevie Yzerman was king. He was the captain and the go-to guy. To grow up in Detroit with an iconic figure like Stevie Y. it would be very hard for anyone to not want to be like him.”
However, Trotz does think that the Red Wings overall style of play has influenced Legwand.
“Detroit has always been a skating team, a team that relies on regroups,” Trotz said. “Leggy’s strength is that he has the ability to skate and the ability to regroup at a high skill level.
“He likes the flow of the way Detroit plays. Over the years watching them he emulates some of that in his game."
Returning to Detroit to play in front of his family and friends is something that Legwand looks forward to doing. This regular season he tied with Jordin Tootoo
with five points against the Red Wings. Each of them had one goal and four assists to lead the Predators in the Detroit series.
“I think Leggy is comfortable playing against Detroit,” Trotz said. “He actually knows a lot of the Detroit players because he skates with them in the summer.
“It’s just like our players who lived in Western Canada or Toronto. They get pumped up for those games because of family and friends and being familiar with the area and the rink. There is no question that David always has his best games against Detroit.”
Legwand does have memories of his first game at Joe Louis Arena wearing a Predators uniform.
“That was exciting,” Legwand said. “I was young and really happy.
“The Red Wings are so good at home. They have been like that forever. It’s different. You have to play a simple game there.”
One thing is certain; Legwand will have no twinges of nostalgia when he lines up on the ice for game three of the series, which is even at 1-1.
“Everything we have done in the past is behind us,” Legwand said. “We have a chance to beat them.”