DETROIT – Netting his first NHL goal had been a long time coming for Luke Glendening.
On April 5, that wait finally came to an end.
“It was just I think overall just a feeling of relief just to get that monkey off my back,” said Glendening, who scored early in the third period of Detroit’s 5-3 loss at Montreal. “I don’t know I guess it was a special moment for sure, I didn’t really have to do much. Abby made a great pass and I just had to put my stick on the ice but it was a moment of relief for sure.”
The score came just two weeks after the center established a franchise record among rookie forwards for the most games played without a goal. Cummy Burton, who played his entire 43-game Detroit career without scoring a goal in the late 1950s, established the drought mark that was surpassed by Glendening on March 22.
The Grand Rapids, Mich. native couldn’t help but smile when recalling the congratulations he received from teammates after the little known scoreless streak finally came to an end in his 52nd game with the Red Wings.
“I mean everyone I think was pretty happy,” Glendening said. “Everyone was razzing me a bit after my streak and my record that I set so everyone was pretty happy.”
But no one was happier than Glendening’s linemates: Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader.
“I think me and Abby might have been more excited, or I don’t know I was screaming in his face, Abby was yelling, it’s great for him to get that first goal finally,” Miller said. “He’s been waiting for a while and I think the pressure was starting to get to him a little bit but it was a big goal at the time and I’m happy for him, he could get it.”
It was only fitting that the two Michigan State Spartans assisted on the University of Michigan graduate’s first NHL goal.
“I think it’s one, that’s a testament to college hockey and two, I think it’s just kind of the camaraderie built with this team and I think I got the biggest congratulations from those two,” Glendening said. “Yeah, you’re going to have some great battles in college but once you get on the same team you’re all working for the same goal.”
Scoring his first NHL goal was an accomplishment Glendening never knew if he would achieve. The center began his professional career with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye in 2012-13 before joining Detroit’s minor-league affiliate, helping the Grand Rapids Griffins win the 2013 Calder Cup championship.
Glendening began the 2013-14 season in Grand Rapids, and was called up to Detroit to make his NHL debut on Oct. 12, replacing Cory Emmerton in an effort to jump start the club’s offense.
The 24-year-old spent the rest of 2013 jumping between the Griffins and Wings, earning his first NHL assist and point in the club’s 5-2 loss to Anaheim on Dec. 17. But beginning on Jan. 1, injuries made his presence in Detroit necessary for the remainder of the season.
Through 56 regular-season games with the Wings, Glendening finished with a goal and seven points, and also signed a three-year extension the same morning he scored his first goal in the league. Although he doesn’t remember exactly how he scored, netting the goal is a memory the center will carry with him for years to come.
“I mean as far as goals it will probably be number one for a long time,” Glendening said. “I don’t really remember how I scored. I blacked out, but I knew it went in the net.”
And that’s all that matters to the 24-year-old, who never even expected to make it to the NHL.
“It’s been special for sure and it’s sometimes hard to focus on what you’re doing well when your point production is so low,” Glendening said. “Obviously I never thought I was going to be a point guy in the NHL, I didn’t even know if I was going to make it to the NHL to be honest but it’s always been a dream of mine to be here and to be able to live out my dream is truly something I’ll cherish forever.
“It’s just enjoying the journey, it’s just another step, another thing that you just have to find joy in every minute and every day is special here for sure.”