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Wings thankful for those 'in harm's way'

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – Having grown-up not far from an abandon Royal Canadian Air Force station in Saskatoon, Mike Babcock said that he has a different appreciation for U.S. military personnel and their families.

Jimmy Howard has worn his patriotism on his helmet before,
paying tribute to those who died on Flight 93 on 9/11.

“Growing up in Canada you don't have the same amount of military people in everyone's family so I don't think you're used to it as much,” the Red Wings coach said. “When you live in the U.S. and every second person you meet has someone in their family involved in the military, it's a whole different thing.”

The Wings will pay tribute to U.S. and Canadian veterans tonight with their annual Military Appreciation Night when they host the Edmonton Oilers at Joe Louis Arena.

Friday is Veterans Day in the United States, and Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth of Nations that make up the British Empire, including Canada. Members of Blue Star Mothers of America will be at the game to collect items to include in care packages that will be shipped to U.S. troops currently serving overseas.

Goalie Jimmy Howard is one of four Americans on the Wings’ roster, which also features eight Canadians. It least four close members of Howard’s family have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, including both grandfathers, who served in the Navy, and a cousin, currently serving in the Air Force.

“We’ve always been very patriotic, but the influence was really on my mom’s side,” Howard said. “We’ve always been just extremely thankful for what all of the men and women do for us.”

Howard has been known to wear his patriotism on his helmet. Before this season he had “Let’s Roll!” painted on the back of his mask as tribute to those brave men and women who died when Flight 93 crashed in a Pennsylvania field on 9/11.

“I’m definitely proud to be an American,” Howard said, “and very thankfully for the sacrifices that the military makes that allows us to have our freedoms.”

For Babcock, Friday was a day of reflection for Americans as well as Canadians.

“We have the opportunity to do what we're doing because other people are in harm’s way,” Babcock said. “It's very evident the reception for military people today is very different than it was during Vietnam, and I think we got our head around the fact that these people are allowing us to do what we do so we're respectful of it and in some ways happy it's not us.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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