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Wings, Leafs set for Memory Lane

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Former Leafs and Wings showed their true colors at a news conference to unveil the rosters for the Alumni Showdown in December. (From L-R) Jim McKenny, Kevin Maguire, Wendel Clark, Dino Cicarelli, Joe Kocur, Alex Delvecchio and Ted Lindsay(Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – In 173 days, some of the greatest players to ever play for the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will descend upon a sheet of ice created between the foul lines at Comerica Park for a skate down Memory Lane.

“Just looking at the skyline, looking at the field and thinking that in five months this will be an amazing event,” Red Wings Alumni president Joe Kocur said. “We’ve had some good games in this city, but with the OHL and the American Hockey League coming in it’s going to be a week of a lot of fun.”

A news conference was held on the field at Comerica Park Wednesday morning where the preliminary rosters for both squads were announced, and Red Wings general manager Ken Holland also revealed plans for a second alumni game.

Tickets for the 2012 Alumni Showdown will include both games and go on sale August 1 to season-ticket holders for each team. Ticket sales to the general public will begin in mid-August. Fans should register HERE to receive all the latest ticket information.

“To remember what happened here in the 50s with Ted Lindsay and Alex Delvecchio and Gordie Howe,” Holland said, “and what happened here in the 80s, the 90s, the building of the franchise and the rebuilding of the organization in the 80s under Mr. Ilitch, we want to have as many of the players as we can from those eras. We also want those great players from the 70s and 80s out here too. There are lots of players.”

The SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival will feature two fun-filled weeks of events, including college hockey with the annual Great Lakes Invitational moving outdoors, along with an Ontario Hockey League doubleheader and an AHL clash between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies – the top minor-league affiliates of the two NHL clubs.

Both alumni games, in conjunction with the Hockeytown Winter Festival in downtown Detroit, will be played on New Year’s Eve, the night before the Wings and Leafs are scheduled to play some 40-miles up the road in Ann Arbor in the NHL’s Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.


On Wednesday, Holland was joined along the first base line by Lindsay, Delvecchio, Kocur and Dino Ciccarelli for the announcement. Meanwhile, the Leafs brought a contingent that featured vice president Dave Poulin, and former players Wendel Clark, Jim McKenny and Kevin Maguire.

Kocur and Ciccarelli plan to play in the alumni game along with former 50-goal scorers Mickey Redmond and John Ogrodnick and Hockey Hall of Famers Larry Murphy, Mark Howe and Luc Robitaille.

All four members of the Wings’ Grind Line, including Darren McCarty, Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby will play in the alumni headliner, as will goalies Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood. In all, Holland revealed 13 player names, but said more names will be known at later dates.

“We will announce players all throughout the summer and into the fall,” Holland said. “There are some players who recently retired and those players I’m going to ask in October and November. I’ve obviously brought it to the attention of Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and Sergei Fedorov, everybody wants to play, but at the end of the day they want to make sure that their calendar is clear, they want to make sure that they feel good about playing the game.”

The Leafs, who announced 10 players for the game, also plan to release names through the upcoming months. But for Poulin, who played 13 NHL seasons as a center with the Flyers, Bruins and Capitals, the best pitch that he can make to prospective alumnus is based on personal experience from last December’s alumni game at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.

“It’s an unusual event because it covers different generations,” Poulin said. “That’s the coolest thing about it. People assume that we all know each other if you played for a certain team like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. But many instances you don’t. An event like this pulls together different generations and as great as it is for fans, for a grandfather to be sitting with a father, to be sitting with a son, it’s as every bit as great for the players involved to see the players of our youth and to be able to share a locker room with them. It’s really something that can’t be explained, and as players you certainly don’t take that for granted.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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