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Red Wings are Halloween veterans

Treat-or-treating a staple for Detroit's North American players

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner /

DETROIT -- We all have reached this dilemma when it comes to Halloween.

When are we too old or too cool to trick-or-treat anymore?

And let's be honest, a pillowcase full of free candy is difficult to pass up, so we end up trick-or-treating well past when we should and our costumes evolve into a lazy exercise of wearing a sports jersey, a clown nose, scary makeup or a mask of some sort.

At a certain age, it's all about the treats.

So when the Red Wings began to reminisce about Halloween, they became defensive when it was assumed they were unimaginative kids who just put on their hockey uniforms and fleeced the neighborhood.

"I put effort into it. I was a vampire one year that I can remember," Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. "I remember my parents dressing me up as a lion, so, no, I didn't just throw on my hockey equipment and go out."

Howard, who grew up in upstate New York, reached a point where it was either play hockey or treat-or-treat. It was a tough decision, but one which paid off in the long run.

"When I got older, my buddies were still trick-or-treating, but I was playing hockey, so I wasn't around for many trick-or-treating (holidays)," he sadly lamented.

Defenseman Madison Bowey, a Winnipeg native, could barely contain himself as October 31 drew near.

"Halloween, it was awesome. You looked forward the whole month of October, you're counting down the days to go trick-or-treating," Bowey said. "I think it's just kind of a cool experience to round up a bunch of buddies and go into different neighborhoods and try and get as much candy as you can, filling all those pillowcases; we always had a competition who had the most, so it was pretty fun."

Bowey's major influence when he was deciding what to dress up as was his mother, Pam.

"I put some effort, usually my mom would have the ideas and I just kind of rolled with it," he said. "A few Halloweens I'd go as a football player, some sports thing or something like that, but it's just a cool time to bring the neighborhood together and a lot of friends together."

Several Red Wings were as enthusiastic as Bowey about Halloween, but one Wings player always had to coax a family member into the All Hallows' Eve spirit.

"It was big in our neighborhood, everybody had candy out at Halloween," Wings defenseman Dennis Cholowski recalled. "My dad was always the downer, the Halloween downer, he was the one in the family that didn't like it.

"Everybody would be coming to the door and he'd be like, 'We don't need candy!' We'd be like, 'Dad, have some spirit, come on.' He's like that with Christmas, too. He's the Grinch, for sure. We're all excited and he's the downer, sitting on the couch watching movies, doing nothing."

A true Renaissance man, you'd imagine Cholowski would dress up as theoretical physicist Albert Einstein or perhaps Sergei Rachmaninoff, his favorite composer, but his costume choices were a little more conventional.

"I don't remember going as one (an intellectual). I've been Harry Potter a few times," he said. "(My older brother) Fred has been some wild stuff, I don't even know what they are. He's really into or was really into that (dressing up for Halloween) back in the day."

Each Wings player had a favorite get-up, which isn't a surprise. What was, however, is a few of the players preferred costumes they've worn as adults, not children.

"My all-time favorite costume is probably four years ago when I went as the Joker," Howard said.

Rookie Givani Smith also favored the Joker, but with a twist.

"My favorite costume actually was a joker," Smith said. "But from a deck of cards, not the new joker. Like the older, 1800s-style joker. I was always that growing up in middle school. I thought that was pretty fun."

Cholowski liked being "Joliet" Jake Blues, of The Blues Brothers fame, a look he wouldn't mind donning again, but only if he can find a partner to be Elwood Blues.

Dylan Larkin's favorite look was part of a family affair.

"I think (my favorite) was Power Rangers," Larkin said. "I went three years in a row. I was four to seven years old. My brother and my two cousins, we were all Power Rangers."

If you're a fan of Happy Gilmore, you'll get a kick out of what Bowey decided to go as one year.

"A few years ago, I went as Chubbs from Happy Gilmore. My roommate and I went kind of old (school) on that one. That was probably my favorite one of all-time."

As much as Halloween is about dressing up, it ultimately comes down to candy, and the Red Wings had strong likes and dislikes when it came to the sugary confections.

"I'd have to say Twix bars are my favorite, my favorite candy," Bowey said. "I'm more of a sweet tooth kind of guy, I like the chocolates, so I think I have to go Twix.

"Those Red Hots, the cinnamon ones, I'm not a fan of the hot cinnamon ones, at least in candy form. I don't really like it."

Howard and Smith were all about candy bars.

"Probably have to go Three Musketeers or Butterfinger," said Howard.

"I'm going to say Kit Kat. Chocolate. Big sweet tooth, yeah," Smith said. "It's the Tootsie Rolls (I don't like). I like the colored ones but not the brown ones. The flavor is too bland for me."

Taro Hirose agrees with Smith, Tootsie Rolls are not among his favorites, though chocolate is part of his favorite treat.

"Tootsie Rolls. I don't know why," Hirose said. "Just wasn't into it as a kid and haven't really gotten into it since. Reese's Pieces or Peanut Butter Cups are my favorite."

Newcomer Adam Erne is on the same page with Hirose.

"Reese's, without a doubt," he said.

But he's more uncertain about his least favorite candy, although he knows his wife's least favorite is anything made with orange flavor.

"That's a weird one," Erne said when asked about his least favorite candy. "I know my wife's easy, she won't eat anything flavored orange. She'll take out the orange Starburst, orange Skittles. For me, those black Twizzlers, black licorice, I'm not a big fan of those."

Larkin's tastes have changed over the years,

"I'm a sour guy now so I like sour Skittles or sour (candy). I like chocolate but (it's) just all right."

Perhaps the oddest favorite candy belongs to Cholowski.

"I was big into those double lollipops, the double lollies with powdered sugar candy," Cholowski said. "You kind of suck on it and it dissolves in your mouth. I was always a huge fan, maybe it's a Canadian thing.

"They're just called Double Lollies, I don't know, they came in these big tubs and have little wrappers on them. They were the best. I don't know why you (Americans) wouldn't have them, they're the best. Double Lollies."

Though Double Lollies do actually exist, Cholowski's Canadian teammates were stumped when asked if they ever heard of a double lollie.

Halloween is certainly celebrated throughout the world in various ways, but in North America, it's a gigantic block party where everybody is a child again for one glorious day.

Howard was asked if he has ever had to explain Halloween to his non-North American teammates.

"No, it's a Hallmark holiday," he laughed. "They pretty much get the gist of it when they get over here, that it's all about getting some candy."

Make believe and candy, it really doesn't get much better than that.

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