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DeKeyser represents WMU

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Danny DeKeyser played hockey at Western Michigan University and threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Comerica Park on Western Michigan night.

DETROIT -- Danny DeKeyser was representing his team Wednesday night at Comerica Park.

Only it wasn't his professional hockey team, the Detroit Red Wings.

Instead, DeKeyser was representing his college team, the Western Michigan University Broncos.

DeKeyser, 26, came to the Tigers-Mariners game to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in honor of Western Michigan Night at the ballpark.

"Got a lot of family and friends here," DeKeyser said. "It’s going to be a fun night."

DeKeyser got a chance to meet outfielder Justin Upton before the game. Upton is in his first season in Detroit.

So who is DeKeyser's Tiger?

"I like (Miguel) Cabrera just because he smokes the ball. He’s probably my favorite," DeKeyser said. "Other than that, second favorite would probably be (Justin) Verlander. They’ve both done a lot.

DeKeyser said he played a couple of years of baseball when he was in middle school, but not since then.

But he planned to throw from the mound.

"I can't move up, I would take too much heat for doing that," DeKeyser said with a grin.

DeKeyser, who was watching batting practice from the field, said he didn't have any nerves two hours before game-time.

"I'm sure once I get out there and stand on the mound, I'll be a little nervous," DeKeyser said.

DeKeyser did not appear nervous as he stepped on the mound and went through a full wind-up before throwing a high strike to Tigers catcher James McCann.

As for the Wings, DeKeyser, a restricted free agent who made $2.25 million last season, said contract negotiations are still in the early stages.

"We haven't really gotten a whole lot into it. We had just one talk or something like that," DeKeyser said. "I'm sure talks will get moving more towards the end of the month or into July as we get going. I don't expect it to drag out real long. Hopefully it gets done sooner rather than later."

With Pavel Datsyuk's decision to return to Russia to play next season, DeKeyser knows the team will look different in the fall.

"It’s tough to replace a guy like him," DeKeyser said. "He’s been in the league for so long doing so much for our team, for the Red Wings. He’s a superstar. You’re not going to replace a guy like that. It’s just going to have to be everybody stepping up and do what they can."

Some of the players DeKeyser expects to step up are the team's rising young stars.

"I think (Dylan) Larkin will take another step this year and (Petr) Mrazek in goal," DeKeyser said. "We have just, I think, depth guys that can step up as well. We’ll see what happens."

The league is also changing, approving an expansion team for Las Vegas.

"I think it's pretty cool," DeKeyser said. "We'll see how it does and stuff like that but it'll be, I think, a fun place to travel to, for sure."

The Las Vegas team will begin play in the 2017-18 season, the same year the Wings move to the Little Caesars Arena.

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