On a beautiful, sunny afternoon in Detroit, each current and former player had a young person to escort them down the red carpet.
All the Red Carpet Ambassadors are hockey players themselves, whether they play ice hockey, street hockey or poly hockey (Special Olympics).
"The Detroit Red Wings have a storied history of developing opportunities for the next generation of hockey players to succeed on and off the ice," said Kevin Brown, Red Wings director of community relations and the Detroit Red Wings Foundation. "Whether you play in an arena or in a gym, there's an endless array of ways to interact with hockey. Today's Red Carpet Ambassadors represented the vibrancy of hockey in our region."
Dylan Larkin is a Waterford, Mich. native and his ambassador was also from Waterford.
Danny Ristich is a goaltender for the Waterford Warriors, a Special Olympics team.
"He loves it," Waterford Warriors coach Bob Garrison said. "He loves the Red Wings and knows that Dylan Larkin plays for them and is from Waterford. Everyone loves Dylan."
Nick Ristich, Danny's father, is also a coach for the Warriors.
"Danny used to watch the kids play street hockey and they asked him to play goalie," Ristich said. "Bob and I started a Special Olympics team that plays year-round. We have 40 players and they don't pay anything. We fundraise and pay for everything."
Danny proudly carried the Dylan Larkin sign down the red carpet and Larkin signed it for him after they made it inside Little Caesars Arena.
"He won't sleep tonight," Nick Ristich said, smiling.
Zy'Aire Oesterling, an 11-year-old player from STRIVE Floor Hockey's Warren Wings, was one of the first down the red carpet with center Frans Nielsen, always early to arrive.
"It was fun," Oesterling said. "It was cool. This is the first time it's happened."
Oesterling had an unusual answer for a youngster when asked his favorite player.
"My favorite one was Gordie Howe," Oesterling said. "Whenever I used to play floor hockey, my coach, he used to say that I always shoot like Gordie Howe and I was just as great as him."
Brownstown, Mich. native Mason Gray, 6, got to walk with Red Wings legend Darren McCarty.
"Mason, he led the way," McCarty said. "He was right there a few times, kept the paparazzi away. He did a heck of a job. He's got a bright future here in Little Caesars security detail in 10 or 12 years."
As much as the ambassadors enjoyed it, the players thought it was fun, too.
"That's so cool to be able to have them escort you down a red carpet," defenseman Dennis Cholowski said. "Everybody's excited and it's a fun, exciting time. Hopefully we can get the win for them tonight."
"For many of the Red Carpet Ambassadors, they were escorting their hockey idols," Brown said. "Our hope is that moments like today will stay with these young hockey players forever - building a lifelong love of the sport. Who knows, maybe someday one of those Red Carpet Ambassadors will be walking into Little Caesars Arena as a Detroit Red Wings player!"
STARS IN TOWN: The Dallas Stars come to town to play in the Wings' opener at Little Caesars Arena.
The Stars have lost their first two games, 2-1 at home to the Boston Bruins on Oct. 3 and 3-2 Saturday night in St. Louis.
"What they have is they have really, really good D, probably great D that maybe is not recognized as that only 'cause they're young," Blashill said. "In (Miro) Heiskanen's case, for sure. I don't think (Esa) Lindell gets enough press for how good he is. (John) Klingberg has gotten a lot of press but Heiskanen is a heck of a player, too. So just overall, they've got, in my opinion, a really good D corps, a huge goalie that's very, very talented.
"Then they have some real good forwards, some two-way forwards up front that are big so I think when it comes playoff time, they're a hard team, they're hard to play against because of those components. I think they're going to be a team that's going to contend again this year."
Heiskanen, the Stars' first-round pick, third overall, in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, is just 20 years old.
"To me, he's the type of D you win with," Blashill said. "He's a great skating defender who adds lots of offense without lots of risk. That's the type of D-men that are the best, in my opinion, are the guys that are, I'll use the word efficient. He's very, very efficient because he defends great and he can add offense without high risk."
Heiskanen scored one of the Stars' goals in St. Louis.
Former San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski signed with the Stars in the offseason.
Pavelski had a hat trick against the Wings last season and has 16 goals and 27 points in 35 career games against Detroit.
B.U. - RED WINGS CONNECTION: The Wings have three players to watch at Boston University this year, two of whom were drafted this past June.
On Saturday night, the Terriers opened their season with a 7-3 victory over Union College.
Forward Robert Mastrosimone, chosen in the second round, 54th overall, in the 2019 draft, scored his first collegiate goal in the game.
But what made the goal even more special was that his fellow Detroit prospects, forward Ethan Phillips (fourth round, 97th overall, 2019) and defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo (third round, 71st overall, 2017) assisted on the goal.
Mastrosimone also had an assist and Phillips finished with two assists.