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Wings' fans show their support at pep rally

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
Red Wings alumni Ted Lindsay, Dino Ciccarelli and Doug Brown were at the pep rally on Thursday.
DETROIT -- The Red Wings kicked off the 2008 Stanley Cup finals celebration with a pep rally at the GM Wintergarden on Thursday afternoon.

Wings TV broadcaster Ken Daniels hosted the celebration, with former Red Wing greats Ted Lindsay, Dino Ciccarelli, Doug Brown and John Ogrodnick on hand to meet with fans and sign autographs.

Lindsay, a hall-of-fame left winger who played in 862 games with the Red Wings, said that he expects this season’s Stanley Cup series to be a great one.

“It’s going to be a wonderful series,” Lindsay said. “I think for the first time in a long time you have two of the best hockey clubs that are playing.

“You have four of the best hockey players in the world that are playing. Pittsburgh has two of them, we have two of them here,” Lindsay said, referring to the Penguins' Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and the Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk."

The large crowd of Wings' supporters gathered in the atrium that over looks the Detroit River inside the Renaissance Center and heard from the alumni about some of the Red Wings current stars, including Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom, and captain Nicklas Lidstrom. Lindsay had a lot to say about the first Red Wingss first captain since Steve Yzerman.

“He’s just one of the greatest, there’s no doubt about it," Lindsay said. "The capacity he’s played at, the leadership that he’s conducted. I get into the room an awful lot … and when Nicklas comes into the room, he undresses, he dresses, plays the game, comes in after the game, undresses, showers, dresses, and unless you look at the stats of the game, you don’t even know he was in the building. He’s that type of player.”

Lindsay also marveled at the puck-handling abilities of Datsyuk, whose 19 points leave him tied with Malkin and Pens' Marian Hossa for second in playoff scoring.

“A lot of the nights I watch him, he’s in the corner, he’s got two men between him and the net,” Lindsay said of Datsyuk. “And all of sudden these two men are still in the corner, and he’s in front of the net, and I’m trying to figure out how he did that. He’s a magician with the puck.”

Ciccarelli, who scored 608 NHL goals while fighting for position in front of the opposition’s net, reminded the fans that Holmstrom’s net-front play is key for Detroit.

“The goal of the game is to get a lot of pucks to the net and get a lot of traffic there,” Ciccarelli said. “So many of the guys don’t want to do it, but you always get rewarded if you go to the net and slot, I was always taught that way and Homer thinks the same way as well.”

Fans were treated to complimentary hot dogs, soda and ice cream, and the Red Patrol gave away pom-poms, rally towels, team posters and more. Stanley Cup finals merchandise and other Red Wings gear were also on sale.

Raffles were held to award a few lucky fans two tickets to Game 1; a Henrik Zetterberg
Fans loaded up on free Red Wings' gear, like posters and pom-poms during Thursday's rally downtown.
autographed jersey; and a Nicklas Lidstrom autographed puck.

Jennifer Chevalier was the lucky winner of the two tickets.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “I don’t know what to say, it’s random. I didn’t think I was going to win, and now I have to get a babysitter for my kids!"

Debbie Cargo, a 35-year Red Wings' fan, said that she and husband Paul came to Thursday's pep rally to show their love for the Red Wings. The couple said they think the series will go five games, and they hope to be able to be at Joe Louis Arena cheering on their favorite team.

“We love them - we’ve been fans for years,” Debbie said. “We’re hoping to get some tickets, we’re going to try to get some somehow!”

Debbie said that Yzerman leading the Wings to the 1997 Stanley Cup is her favorite Detroit hockey memory.

“The first Stanley cup, when Yzerman finally lifted it, because that’s what he wanted all his life,” said Cargo, a Roseville, Mich., resident.

When asked who would score the game-winning goal for the Red Wings to wrap up the championship, many of the fans in attendance said it would come from Zetterberg, including 10-year-old Robert Kundrat, who said ‘Hank’ is his favorite Wing.

Fellow Red Wings' fan Jan Brown said that her favorite part of the pep rally was getting her jersey signed by the alumni players. Brown is confident that the Stanley Cup will be returning to Motown.

“I think we’re going to win,” she said. “We were able to go to the first two playoff games, and it was awesome. I love them all, I got to say.”

Game 1 is Saturday at 8 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena.

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