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Notebook: Lecavalier admired former Red Wings Yzerman, Fedorov

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT -- Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier never made it to Joe Louis Arena as a youngster, but that didn’t stop him from making the Red Wings his favorite team.

Lecavalier, 29, said it’s always exciting to come to Detroit for a game.

“It was my favorite team growing up, so I enjoy playing in this rink,” he said. “It’s loud, they probably have one of the best teams in the last 15 years, so it’s exciting to play against an organization like this.”

The Ile-Bizard, Quebec, native said that watching Steve Yzerman on TV was what led him to the Wings.

“Steve Yzerman was my favorite player growing up, so from watching his moves on ‘Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em’… I’ve always liked the Red Wings,” Lecavalier said. “Obviously the last 15 years they’ve been great. When I was a kid I liked watching Steve Yzerman and (Sergei) Fedorov and these guys. They’ve had some pretty good teams.”

However, Lecavalier has struggled in his prior appearances at JLA, recording only two assists in six games. The former first overall pick in 1998 hopes to turn that around Thursday night.

“It’s an exciting rink tonight,” he said, “so hopefully everybody comes out and plays a full 60 minutes. We’re coming in here for a win and nothing less.”

CLEARY UPDATE: Dan Cleary said his injured shoulder is healing well.

“It’s coming, it’s getting better,” the Wings’ forward said. “I’m off the pain medication now, so I’m trying to get over that hump.”

Cleary, 30, is anxious to get back on the ice, saying that a little pain won’t keep him from rejoining his team in practice. He is currently limited to lower-body workouts and riding the exercise bike.

“Once it gets to the point where there’s only a little pain, I have to start skating and just go through it,” Cleary said.

When asked about his feelings on the hit that injured him, Cleary said he has mixed feelings. Barret Jackman hit Cleary in the neutral zone in the Wings’ home game against St. Louis on Dec. 9.

“I’m kind of in between,” Cleary said. “It was clean…I’ve only seen the replay once. I didn’t see him, that’s for sure. He’s a physical guy that likes to play hard, so it is what it is.”

Forward Valtteri Filppula has been able to practice with the Wings this week, as he continues to recover from a broken wrist.

“I feel pretty good; it’s a lot of fun to be out there and get to practice with the guys,” Filppula said. “I’m happy about that. The wrist feels OK, still pretty stiff and a little bit sore, but I think it’s coming along well.”

Filppula said he has few limitations on what he can do with the puck at this point.

“I haven’t took any slap shots or anything like that, but I can shoot wristers and do pretty much everything with the puck,” he said. “I feel it’s still a little weak, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s moving along. I definitely can’t wait to start playing.”

The native of Vantaa, Finland, said that Wings’ fans can expect him back shortly.

“I think after Christmas,” he said. “I don’t have an exact date, but I hope sooner than later after Christmas.”

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