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Power failure affects Wings, Panthers

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Power at Joe Louis Arena was restored at 3 p.m. after a widespread outage left the arena and surrounding area without power this morning. Tonight's game between the Red Wings and Florida Panthers will take place as scheduled)

Despite the lack of light, Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo got some morning work in at a darkened Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday. (Photo by Bill Roose/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – Mike Babcock always speaks to the media after each morning skate, though he usually doesn’t do so in the dark.

Morning skates for the Red Wings and Florida Panthers were canceled Tuesday as a massive power outage affected much of downtown Detroit, including Joe Louis Arena, where the game is to be played at 7:30 p.m.

“Obviously there’s something wrong but I hear it’s the whole area,” said Babcock, as he stood in a darkened hallway near the Zamboni gates at The Joe. “They’ll get it worked out and we’ll be playing tonight.”

This is the second power outage that has affected the Red Wings in the past three days. Sunday’s afternoon game against the Vancouver Canucks had a 34-minute delay when several banks of lights went out 29-seconds in the first period.

According to the city of Detroit, at approximately 10:30 a.m., a public lighting grid suffered a major cable failure causing the loss of power throughout the region. The Red Wings were scheduled to start their morning skate at the time of the failure.

“The outage is affecting all customers on the PLD grid,” the city said in a statement. “We have isolated the issue and are working to restore power as soon as possible. … The city’s Public Lighting Department is working closely with DTE during this process.”

The outage appears to have affected big commercial and municipal buildings, including the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, several firehouses and the Detroit People Mover, in downtown. Traffic lights are out, as well as some public schools and areas on Wayne State University’s campus. Detroit Public School officials said students would be released at their half-day dismissal times.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and DTE representatives are to provide an update on the situation during a press briefing planned for 2 p.m. today at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters.

Some Red Wings players kicked a soccer ball in a hallway outside of the team locker room, illuminated by emergency lights, while most of the Panthers boarded their bus to return to their team hotel downtown. The only exception was goalie Roberto Luongo who stayed behind to face shots from two assistant coaches in a dimly lit arena.

“It’s not a big deal. Some guys have a routine with their morning skates, and I know a lot of the goalies like to face pucks in the morning, but it affects both teams,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. “It’s not like it’s one team, so you get ready and you play the game. We played last night so it’s a back-to-back game, so it’s not that big of a deal for us.”

The Panthers lost 2-1 at Columbus on Monday.

Like everyone else, Babcock and Gallant were in the dark as to the status of tonight’s game.

“I don’t know how it’s going to affect anything,” Babcock said. “It’s a long way from game time. I get to go to Tim Horton’s for a coffee instead of rushing home.”

The Red Wings are seeking their fifth straight win tonight, something that haven’t done since they won six in a row Feb. 8-19, 2012.

Gallant, a former Red Wings left wing, was excited to be back at The Joe, until the lights went out in the visitor’s locker room.

“Obviously you hope it’s going to be OK for tonight and that you get the game played and all of that,” he said. “We’ll see what happens and there’s nothing you can do. You just prepare yourself and get mentally ready for tonight. That’s all. It breaks your routine a little bit but it shouldn’t be an issue.”

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