DETROIT – Methodically, Luke Glendening moved parallel with the Red Wings’ bench skating in and out of those half his size.
The Wings’ center was up to no good, which was clear to some who watched him.
As the group of young, inexperienced skaters lined up for a series of puck-handling drills, the 26-year-old Michigan native mischievously sought a victim for his on-ice shenanigans.
It wasn’t long before Glendening identified his target and moved in from the flank. In one fluid motion – using the blade of his right-handed stick as a shovel – he scooped snow from along the boards and dumped the icy shavings down the inside of the youngster’s shoulder pads.
Glendening’s subject? Teddy Blashill, the oldest son of the Red Wings’ new head coach.
Teddy and his younger siblings, Josie and Owen, were among 298 skaters who participated in the Red Wings’ 17th annual youth hockey camp at Joe Louis Arena this week.
An added bonus for the kids was the ability to interact with Glendening, Riley Sheahan and Danny DeKeyser, as the three Wings players each took turns as volunteer counselors at the camp.
“They had a blast,” proclaimed coach Jeff Blashill, speaking about his kids’ experience. “It’s a really well-organized camp, and obviously with the addition of Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening and Danny DeKeyser, it’s a neat thing for the kids to be on the ice with Red Wings players. I know my kids had a lot of fun and I know they were really tired.”
Kids ages 6 to 16 came from every corner of the United States and two Canadian provinces – Ontario and Manitoba – to participate in the three-day instruction camp hosted by former Red Wings forward Kirk Maltby.
Told that two young sons of a U.S. serviceman stationed in Japan traveled to Detroit to join in the fun, Blashill said, “It means we have Red Wings fans everywhere and I think that just speaks to what a special thing it is to be part of the Red Wings’ organization.”
Blashill, who is getting set for his first season behind the bench as the 27th head coach in franchise history, was impressed with the pace of the camp and the level of instruction each youth skater received.
“First of all, it’s a well-planned camp and they do a real good job teaching skills,” he said. “No. 2, they get an opportunity to skate on Joe Louis ice and be here in this great arena. I think it’s a neat experience for the kids, and then No. 3. just being around guys like Kirk Maltby – a four-time Stanley Cup winner – and the players, I think it’s a real neat thing for them.”
The kids weren’t the only ones who seemed to enjoy their time at the camp.
“It kind of brings back good memories,” Sheahan said. “You remember when you were that young. You can see these kids having so much fun and coming into this environment when they look up to some of these guys and some of the players in the locker room who they look up to as role models, you can see they’re pretty excited.”
As for any advice or tips that the Wings gave to the young, impressionable skaters, DeKeyser said, “Usually I just tell them to have fun, because if you’re having fun that takes you pretty far. The other stuff will come after that but as long as you’re having fun out there, that’s step one.”