Owen, 6, gets to be a Red Wing for a day

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
6-year-old Owen Provencher watches Red Wings practice from the bench Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit — They were just coming off a victory, but what made the Red Wings feel good Thursday was the smile plastered all over the face of Owen Provencher.

Anyone in the room couldn't help but feel a little better.

A 6-year-old from Sacramento, Calif., Provencher took part in practice, was chatted up by every player — and even had reporters spellbound by his every word sitting at Jimmy Howard's stall.

It was Provencher's day and it was well deserved.

As part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Provencher and his parents were flown in to be guests of the Red Wings.

"It's really cool," said Owen, decked out in his Red Wings practice gear and planning on getting his haircut just like his favorite player, Howard, later in the afternoon.

Provencher has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that can affect the lungs. His family estimates he takes more than 25 pills a day.

But for one day, all that was a million miles away.

Provencher took part in some three-on-three drills, watched some practice, and was at the side of Howard, who happens to be a family friend.

Being at Joe Louis Arena was a thrill, considering Owen loves the Red Wings.

"I watch them a lot," Owen said.

Heidi Provencher, Owen's mother, babysat Howard back in Ogdensburg, N.Y. Provecher's mother was Howard's sixth-grade teacher.

"I've known Owen for quite some time," Howard said. "Owen's a great kid. I've known his family pretty much all my life. There's a lot of history there.

"For us to be able to make a wish come true for him, it's real special."

Quite a few Red Wings players came by and talked with Owen, offering a smile or a pat on the back.

Coach Mike Babcock noted how the afternoon was enjoyable on either side of the equation.

"When you're blessed and get to play a game like we do to make a living, you get to give back," Babcock said. "He was out there with the goalies first. Then he was on with the guys for a scrimmage. I assume it was enjoyable for him.

"It energizes our team to have him out there."



Owen Provencher stood out Thursday despite being the smallest Red Wing on the ice.