DETROIT - Red Wings center Luke Glendening has always defied the odds.
Several years ago, Michigan assistant hockey coach Billy Powers paid a visit to The Hotchkiss School, a prep school in Lakeville, Conn., to check out a potential Wolverine.
The player he came to scout wasn't the player that caught Powers' eye. It was a kid from East Grand Rapids, Glendening.
Michigan invited Glendening to try out for the Wolverines as a preferred walk-on. He quickly impressed Michigan's coaching staff and eventually earned a scholarship.
During his sophomore season, he was an alternate captain of the Wolverines and as junior and senior he was Michigan's captain.
Regardless of the obstacles ahead of him, Glendening's inner drive, passion, and guts have always propelled him to excel. It has also endeared him to teammates and coaches.
"I just gave a talk to College Hockey Inc. to the best 14-year-olds in Michigan last night (Wednesday)," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said when asked about Glendening's resolve. "What I always talk about with young people, with anybody, is inner drive and perseverance, those to me are the two biggest factors in individual success, whether it's sports or business or life or anything. I don't know if anybody exemplifies that more than him.
"He's got the inner drive to wake up every day and (do) everything absolutely possible to be great, not just when a coach is watching but no matter who's watching. The perseverance he's shown throughout his career, I didn't want him on my Indiana Ice team in the USHL, he went to prep school and found his way to being captain at Michigan. I didn't want him on my Grand Rapids Griffins team right away, I sent him to Toledo. He found his way to demand that he was back with us.
"Mike Babcock talked about maybe having him as the fourth-line center. At that time Glenny was 45 percent in the circle. Glenny and I talked, you can't go up (to the NHL) as a fourth-line center (at 45 percent), next thing you know he's 55 percent in the circle. I can't say enough things about what he exemplifies in those two areas. That's the type of people that have success, people with inner drive and perseverance."
In Tuesday's 5-4 overtime victory over the Flyers, Glendening blocked a slap shot early in OT and had to leave the game. After Thursday's morning skate, the always low-key Glendening answered "yes" when he was asked if he was in the lineup tonight against the Capitals.
Glendening then proceeded to peel off his equipment. He had so much tape on his body from the bumps and bruises he's endured this season that he resembled a mummy.
Currently, he's centering a line between rookie wingers Martin Frk and recent Grand Rapids call-up Evgeny Svechnikov. Against the Flyers, Glendening had a shorthanded goal, Svechnikov scored his first NHL goal, which Frk assisted on and each player was plus-1.
"You know what? They've played well together, and then Glenny gives them a great veteran presence, real smart, probably our best defensive player," Blashill said. "With two younger players that in Svech's case, is still kind of learning the system stuff, I think Glenny can really help them, give them a stabilizing force. It gives me lots of trust to play the line.
"Anytime Glenny's on the ice, there's way more trust. It allows them to win face-offs both offensively and defensively. I think that combination of the three was good the last game. Hopefully it will be good again this game."
FRK SMILES THROUGH GOOD AND BAD TIMES: Frk may be known as having one of the hardest shots in hockey, but he is also an upbeat player who always tries to be optimistic.
In 59 games, Frk has 11 goals, 12 assists, is minus-12 and is averaging 10:13 of ice time per game.
Since February 18, a span of 16 games, Frk has been a healthy scratch in six of those contests.
"I had a really tough stretch before the (trade) deadline and right after the deadline I was out of the lineup. I was really frustrated about it, but I didn't try and show it to anyone. I just tried to do my work, that's what (Blashill) decided to do, put me out of the lineup and I completely respect it.
"I can definitely play in this league. It's about if you can earn Blash's trust you're going to play way more. (Bertuzzi) did and now he's playing on the top line. So, I just try and do everything right, hopefully I can get more minutes every game."
Frk has assisted on Bertuzzi's and Svechnikov's first NHL goals and he seemed to be more thrilled than his fellow rookies who actually scored.
"I don't think I am a selfish person. I am always happy for everyone who scores, it's great for the team, great for everyone," Frk said. "If someone can score a game-winning goal, it's nice to see and be happy for him. I just try and stay positive. I am happy to be here, so that always brings a smile. I am always happy when we score. It's just a great feeling to score a goal in the National Hockey League."
Blashill appreciates Frk's positive nature and his team-first mindset.
"He's got great enthusiasm. He's a great, great person who cares tons about other people's successes," Blashill said. "He's not a selfish person at all. It doesn't surprise me that when guys score their first that he's as excited as he is. That's just the kind of guy he is."
During Frk's tough times season, he credits Wings assistant coach John Torchetti for keeping him even-keeled.
"Torch probably the most, he tried to help me," Frk said. "He's been in this league a long time and has coached a lot of players. He told me what to do and what to be better at and he told me to stay confident and relaxed and everything will come."
But it has been different for Frk this season. He has not only had to adjust to the NHL game, the Wings' struggles are something he is not accustomed to.
"I have been a pro now for five years, this is the hardest year I've had with not winning many games and not being in the playoffs. It is super tough," Frk said. "We know we can't probably make the playoffs right now, we have to play every game hard and finish the season with good games and after that take a break from hockey and get ready for the next season."
Frk pauses and says, "I just enjoy every game, it's a special moment for me and also my family, so it's great to be here and great to be a Red Wing."