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Leafs' Palmateer began career at Olympia

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Hall of Fame forward Lanny McDonald talks to Red Wings legend Nicklas Lidstrom following Detroit's practice at Comerica Park on Monday. (Photo by Bill Roose/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – Former Maple Leafs goalie Mike Palmateer has great memories of playing in Detroit, where he made his NHL debut on Oct. 28, 1976.

Now an amateur scout for the Toronto organization, the 59-year-old Palmateer, hopes he doesn’t soil his fond recollections of Hockeytown by embarrassing himself in Tuesday’s Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park.

“Nobody wants to go out and be a star, maybe don’t want to go out and make a fool of ourselves but some of us will anyway,” said Palmateer, who will share goaltending duties with Curtis Joseph and Felix Potvin in the 3:30 p.m. game against some of the Red Wings’ greats.

“I think it’s not so much about the playing so much, it’s being with the guys and your old friends,” Palmateer said. “That’s what this is all about, right? For us anyway.”

Palmateer was a 23-year-old rookie when he made his NHL debut at Olympia Stadium, getting to the old Red Barn on Grand River with a few hours to spare.

“Well, midnight the night before I was in Oklahoma City and our general manager, Jim Gregory, called me and told me that I was on a plane tomorrow going to Detroit,” said Palmateer, who produced a 149-138-52 career record while playing eight seasons with the Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals.

“I can’t even remember when I got in, but it was a good start,” he said. “We beat the Wings 3-1 … I think I had about four or five breakaways that I stopped.”

Renewing old friendships and rekindling locker room camaraderie was a common theme during the Wings and Leafs practices Monday afternoon.

Garry Unger played for both the Wings and Leafs during his 16-season NHL career, so he was definitely looking forward to catching up with players on both rosters.

“I want to see Tiger Williams and Darryl Sittler on the other team from (my) era and Red Berenson,” Unger said. “I played with Red and was traded for Red. I’ve known Red for many, many years. I’ve known Eddie Mio for a long time and I skated with some of the Red Wings alumni before when I coached the Motor City Mechanics in the United Hockey League during the (1994-95) lockout.”

Hall of Fame forward Lanny McDonald respects the game and its heritage so much that when he was asked to participate in the Hockeytown Winter Festival and the two alumni games he was thrilled.

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic,” McDonald said. “Having a chance to have two Original Six organizations come together to demonstrate that when the game is over it’s not really over. You can still be a big part of it and how important the alumni is for all organizations.

“I think for everyone not only to enjoy the game, whether you’re fans, whether you’re players, it’s a celebration of the game and a celebration dating all the way back to the Original Six.”

Red Wings: Forwards John Ogrodnick, Dallas Drake, Jimmy Carson, Martin Lapointe, Petr Klima, Dennis Polonich, Red Berenson, Garry Unger, Kevin Miller, Pat Verbeek, Paul Ysebaert, Brent Fedyk, Mike Knuble; Defensemen Jason Woolley, Aaron Ward, Steve Duchesne, Mathieu Dandenault, Jiri Fischer, Mathieu Schneider; Goalies Kevin Hodson, Ken Holland and Eddie Mio; Coaches Scotty Bowman and Barry Smith; Ambassadors Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Vladimir Konstantinov.

Maple Leafs: Forwards Dan Daoust, Mark Osborne, Bill Derlago, Stew Gavin, Pat Boutette, Rob Pearson, Claude Loiselle, Brad May, Shayne Corson, Tom Fergus, Mike Krushelnyski, Dave McLlwain, Todd Warriner, Dave Reid, Nikolai Borschevsky, Lou Franceschetti and Mike Johnson; Defensemen Mike Pelyk, Jamie Macoun, Matt Martin, Brad Marsh, Greg Hothan and Cory Cross; Goalies Mark Laforest and Peter Ing; Coaches Tom Watt, Ron Ellis and Dan Maloney.

GAME 2 ROSTERS (3:30 p.m. EST)
Red Wings: Forwards Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Igor Larionov, Mickey Redmond, Tomas Holmstrom, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty, Joe Kocur, Dino Ciccarelli, Slava Kozlov, Sergei Fedorov and Doug Brown; Defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Mark Howe, Larry Murphy, Slava Fetisov, Paul Coffey and Brian Rafalski; Goalies Chris Osgood and Manny Legace; Coaches Scotty Bowman and Barry Smith; Ambassadors Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Vladimir Konstantinov.

Maple Leafs: Forwards Darryl Sittler, Rick Vaive, Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk, Darcy Tucker, Kevin Maguire, Gary Leeman, Russ Courtnall, Gary Roberts, Lanny McDonald, Tiger Williams, Mike Walton, Tie Domi, Mike Gartner, Joe Nieuwendyk, Steve Thomas and Steve Sullivan; Defensemen Dave Ellett, Bryan McCabe, Bob McGill, Al Iafrate and Bryan Berard; Goalies Curtis Joseph, Felix Potvin and Mike Palmateer; Coaches Pat Quinn and Red Kelly.

Red Wings: Marcel Pronovost, Gerard Gallant, Lee Norwood, Bill Gadsby, Dave Lewis, Eddie Giacomin, Nick Libett, Norm Ullman, Dale McCourt, Greg Stefan, Brad Smith, Dennis Hextall and Jim Rutherford.

Maple Leafs: Johnny Bower, Jim McKenny, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Nevin, Terry Clancy, Brian Conacher, Pat Hickey, Rod Seiling, Jim Dorey and Doug Favell.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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