Henrik Zetterberg was officially named the captain of the Red Wings yesterday afternoon. All the players and coaches were present in the press conference, supporting ‘Z.’
General manager Ken Holland began the press conference by stating “Today is the evolution of a leader. Mike Babcock and I feel really good about the leadership of our team going forward. He’s a fierce competitor, the bigger the game, the better he plays…He leads by example. I think Hank is one of the best 2-way forwards in the world. [He’s] a role model on and off the ice.”
After turning it over to Zetterberg and handing him his new captain’s jersey. Hank was very humble about the promotion. “It’s a true honor,” he said. He then quoted Steve Yzerman, after he was named captain in 1986. “It made it a lot easier by having the locker room filled with leaders.”
When the press conference ended Ken Holland stuck around to answer questions from the media. He talked at great length about Zetterberg’s leadership qualities. “He’s a great player, day-in and day-out. He’s an every-dayer. In practice he sets the tone. He’s a great 2-way player.” Ken mentioned how Scotty Bowman started the Red Wings tradition of playing a 2-way game. “It’s been passed down from one generation to the next. It’s Henrik’s task and responsibility now to set the tone for going forward.”
Over 3500 excited hockey fans packed the Compuware Arena, home of the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers to see the Red and White game. The game featured a mix of Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins players on both sides. It is the first time that Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock could see their players play in a game since last season. Babcock and Holland watched the game from above the press box, leaving the assistant coaches and Griffins coaches on the benches to manage the two teams.
The Red Team consisted of: Red Wings – Henrik Zetterberg, Damien Brunner, Drew Miller, Jordin Tootoo, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, and Jonas Gustavsson. Griffins – Jan Mursak, Cory Emmerton, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco, Louis-Marc Aubry, Mitch Callahan, Nathan Paetsch, Brian Lashoff, Chad Billins, and Brennan Evans.
The White Team was comprised of: Red Wings – Johan Franzen, Valterri Filpulla, Mike Knuble (hopeful), Todd Bertuzzi, Justin Abdelkader, Dan Cleary, Patrick Eaves, Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith, Jakub
Kindl, Ian White, Carlo Colaiacovo, and Jimmy Howard. Griffins – Landon Ferraro, Trevor Parkes, Jeff Hoggan, Adam Almquist, and Max Nicastro.
After the national anthem concluded, and the puck was dropped, everyone in the stands burst into a resounding Let’s Go Red Wings chant that gave even the casual fan chills of excitement. If there were any thoughts of boycotting, it certainly didn’t happen here. For true hockey fans, the Red Wings were back, and that’s all that mattered.
Trevor Parkes scored first for the White Team with 43.9 seconds left in the first period, when he deked past the defense and scored a very nice goal on Jonas Gustavsson. Jonas had an amazing glove save earlier in the period when a deflected shot caromed off a stick, causing him to make a desperation cross-crease save.
20 minutes into the game, the tempo was very quick, and it was clear that the players wanted to treat this game as an exhibition game before the NHL season starts this weekend.
Just over one minute into the second period, Drew Miller scored for the Red Team on Jimmy Howard, tying the game. 4 minutes later Griffin Jeff Hoggan slipped the puck past a sprawling Gustavsson, who had no chance to make the save. Louis-Marc Aubry scored for the Red Team to tie the game at two.
Filpulla received the game’s first penalty, as he was called for hooking 8 minutes into period number two. Tootoo received the other penalty in the game, coming just 3 minutes later.
When the White Team set up in the offensive zone late in the period, Kyle Quincey one-timed a shot from Ian White that actually broke Jan Mursak’s stick. New captain Henrik Zetterberg scored on a deflection from a Damien Brunner shot (a perfect 2-line pass from Jonathan Ericsson set Brunner up with a breakaway).
Griffin Nathan Paetsch of the Red Team closed out the scoring to make it 4-2, which would be the final score of the game.
After the 3rd period ended, the teams delighted their fans with a full team shootout, still Red vs. White. Todd Bertuzzi and Brendan Smith scored the two best goals. Bert’s goal was a behind the legs Datsyuk-like beauty. Smith’s goal was very similar to a shootout goal that both Bertuzzi and Zetterberg scored last season (deke, head-fake, arm extension while skating in the opposite direction). The puck rolled on its side very slowly as it crossed the goal line. Gustavsson once again had no chance. The hockey-starved fans roared with excitement as the players proceeded to skate off the ice.
After the game I asked Henrik: Q: “How did it feel wearing the “C” for the first time today?” Z: “It was nice, pretty cool to skate out there for the first time with it on. I think it’ll feel more special this weekend and next Tuesday (first home game for Detroit).”
Q: How much will it mean to finally be back at Joe Louis Arena. Z: “We’re really looking forward to it. On Thursday when we go down there, it’ll be pretty cool to just come back and skate there.”
Q: Did it feel good to have the “Let’s-Go-Red-Wings” chant going 10 seconds into the game?
Z: “Yeah that was pretty nice. It’s been awhile.”
When asked to comment on the fan turnout he said: “It was pretty amazing to see the fans showing up, and we really appreciate that. Really looking forward for Tuesday night.”
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