December 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Terry Foster

Alumni Showdown a chance to rekindle old fires

Detroit — Eddie Mio dragged himself off the ice at Joe Louis Arena, dripping in sweat.

Practice was over because Mio was done.

The 60-year-old former NHL goaltender couldn’t go on, slumping across the boards in pain.

He faced dozens of shots during four scrimmages with former Red Wings players, and his body gave out.

“Are you OK, Eddie?” Dino Ciccarelli asked.

“No, I am not, as a matter of fact,” Mio said.

Still, Mio is one of about 20 former Red Wings getting together to prepare for the Winter Classic Alumni games New Year’s Eve at Comerica Park.

Mio will play in the “B” game at 1 p.m. The “A” features Steve Yzerman and Nick Lidstrom, among others, and starts at 4:15 p.m. The Maple Leafs will counter with Mats Sundin, Tie Domi and Wendel Clark.

The reunion gives the former players a chance to rekindle old flames and battles.

The series between the Original Six rival is 276-276-93, but the Maple Leafs have won 13 Stanley Cups while the Red Wings own 11.

Showing some teeth

But the alumni game isn’t about the bitter rivalry.

It’s about exchanging stories and competing one more time.

And it’s about fun.

“I want you to look at the guys on the ice,” said former Red Wings forward Joe Kocur, president of the Red Wings Alumni Association. “All you are going to see are teeth. Guys are going to be looking around at the crowd and the atmosphere and they are going to be smiling and soaking it all in.”

For Mio, the festivities are a chance to reunite with former Adirondack Red Wings goaltender and current Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. Mio spent time in Adirondack during a rehab assignment in 1983-84, and played three seasons in Detroit.

“I am going to be nervous as heck,” Mio said. “Even if I am playing an alumni game and I know we are going to win 10-1, I am nervous. But I am going to play 12 minutes and am going to poke fun and we are going to have as much fun as possible, tapping guys and being silly.”

While the games and practices are difficult for some former players — some raised their sticks, signaling for a breather during a recent get-together — other like Kris Draper and Ciccarelli showed some speed and skill.

“We want to do well,” former Red Wings defenseman Larry Murphy said. “We are here to have fun, but we want to do something constructive. It makes the time out there easier.”

Toughing it out

Still, some players believe the alumni games will have a little bit of fight in them.

Imagine tough guys like Darren McCarty, Kocur, Tiger Williams and Domi in the same room. They’re more likely to exchange punches than hugs.

“You might not be friends, but you were competitors,” Holland said. “And there was respect. I am calling it a trip down memory lane. There will be so many people on that ice that created memories for our fans and our city. You have the Grind Line, the Russian 5, Dino and Shanny.”

And it’s those memories that keep Mio coming back for workouts, no matter how much it hurts the next day.

“I don’t care if I stop a puck or not,” he said. “I will see old foes and old friends. It should be a heck of a time.”

Red Wings alumni roster*

Coaches

■Scotty Bowman

■Jacques Demers

■Gordie Howe

■Barry Smith

Forwards

■Red Berenson (1971-74)

■Doug Brown (1995-2001)

■Jimmy Carson (1989-93)

■Dino Ciccarelli (1992-96)

■Alex Delvecchio (1951-74)

■Dallas Drake (1992-94/2007-08)

■Kris Draper (1994-2011)

■Sergei Fedorov (1990-2003)

■Brent Fedyk (1987-92)

■Tomas Holmstrom (1996-2012)

■Petr Klima (1985-89/1998-99)

■Joe Kocur (1985-91/1996-99)

■Slava Kozlov (1992-2001)

■Martin Lapointe (1991-2001)

■Igor Larionov (1995-2000/2001-03)

■Ted Lindsay (1944-57/1964-65)

■Kirk Maltby (1996-2010)

■Darren McCarty (1993-2004/2008-09)

■John Ogrodnick (1979-86/1992-93)

■Dennis Polonich (1975-83)

■Mickey Redmond (1971-76)

■Brendan Shanahan (1996-2006)

■Garry Unger (1968-71)

■Pat Verbeek (1999-2001)

■Paul Ysebaert (1990-93)

■Steve Yzerman (1983-2006)

Defensemen

■Chris Chelios (1999-2009)

■Paul Coffey (1993-96)

■Mathieu Dandenault (1995-2004)

■Steve Duchesne (1999-2002)

■Viacheslav Fetisov (1995-98)

■Jiri Fischer (1999-2006)

■Mark Howe (1992-95)

■Vladimir Konstantinov (1991-97)

■Nicklas Lidstrom (1991-2012)

■Larry Murphy (1997-2001)

■Brian Rafalski (2007-11)

■Mathieu Schneider (2002-07)

■Aaron Ward (1993-2001)

■Jason Woolley (2002-06)

Goaltenders

■Manny Legace (1999-2006)

■Eddie Mio (1983-86)

■Chris Osgood (1993-2001/2005-11)

■Mike Vernon (1995-97)

Maple Leafs roster*

Coaches

■Red Kelly

■Pat Quinn

Forwards

■Dave Andreychuk (1992-96)

■Wendel Clark (1985-2000)

■Russ Courtnall (1983-89)

■Tie Domi (1989-2006)

■Ron Ellis (1963-1981)

■Gary Leeman (1982-92)

■Kevin Maguire (1986-92)

■Frank Mahovlich (1956-68)

■Lanny McDonald (1973-80)

■Gary Roberts (2000-04)

■Darryl Sittler (1970-82)

■Mats Sundin (1994-2008)

■Steve Thomas (1984-2001)

■Darcy Tucker (1999-2008)

■Rick Vaive (1979-87)

■Mike Walton (1965-71)

■Tiger Williams (1974-80)

Defensemen

■Dave Ellett (1990-97)

■Al Iafrate (1984-91)

■Bryan McCabe (2000-08)

■Bob McGill (1981-93)

Goaltenders

■Johnny Bower (1965-66)

■Mike Palmateer (1976-84)

* scheduled to appear

Source: Detroit Red Wings

Hockeytown Winter Festival Alumni Showdown

When: Dec. 31, Comerica Park, Detroit

TV: NBC Sports Network

Format: Back-to-back games between former Red Wings and Maple Leafs players, with the first beginning at 1 p.m. Complete rosters will be determined before each game.

Tickets: Prices start at $90 and include both alumni games. Available at ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000.

terry.foster@detroitnews.com
(313) 222-1494
twitter.com/terryfoster971

Former Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman is among the most anticipated names taking part in the Alumni Showdown on New Year's Eve. / David Guralnick / Detroit News
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