So far this season, the Detroit Red Wings delivered. So it's not surprising that like the U.S. Post Office, several thousand Red Wings fans came through snow and wind to attend the team's Feb. 11 open skate despite the wintry weather.
"When I stepped on the ice, I thought it was a game warmup,"
Red Wings defenseman Jason Woolley said. "It's great for the fans. And the food kitchen is a great cause."
Each fan in attendance brought at least three non-perishable items that the Red Wings will donate to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
Harold Rush, who brought his son Justin with him, found out about the event the night before and hustled to get to Joe Louis Arena before 9 a.m.
"It was kind of a rush to get down there," Rush said. "We were maybe 20 back from the front of the line. There were a lot of die hard fans out there."
He said he'd been a fan since he was a kid, and this season's team impresses him.
"We've got wheels. We've got strength. We've got sticks," he said. "We're going somewhere, definitely."
Many fans, like Bill Wilson, who identified the Red Wings players to his 8-year-old son Christian, never had the opportunity to see a practice before. For others, the skate offered a different perspective.
"We have season tickets in section 212," David Chavez said,who made it to the season ticketholders list this year after a nine-year wait. "This is a new view."
He brought his son, David, and two friends, Grant McLellan and Joel Frazee, and found spots close to the glass.
Prior to the skate, Ken Kal drew winners for memorabilia such as photos, pucks and t-shirts and tickets to the upcoming alumni game. Five lucky grand prize winners were allowed on the ice to get their pictures taken with a Red Wing after practice.
Chris Osgood, Manny Legace, Kirk Maltby Jason Williams and Henrik Zetterberg
posed for pictures with the winners then stayed and signed autographs for many of the fans in attendance. Before the players hit the ice, Mickey Redmond gave the fans a preview of the practice, explaining some of the drills the players would run through in preparation of the final game before the team's Olympic break.
Stephanie Osgood, Angelica Barnes and Rene Osgood came decked out in their Red Wings jerseys never had an opportunity to see a practice
"It's the Red Wings, and it's for charity, so it's a no-brainer," Osgood (no relation to Chris) said.
All of the fans enjoyed the practice.
"We're going about our business, but I think they think we're putting on a show," Woolley smiled. "That's all that matters."
Community relations manager Anne Marie Krappman said the team hopes to hold more open skates, but it's tough with the scheduling.
"We want to do it on the weekends so kids can come," she explained. "The Red Wings want to be accessible to the fans."
The Red Wings hope that open skates can become at least an annual event, but ultimately, it depends on how the National Hockey League draws up the schedule.