Foster: Ciccarelli experiences highs, lows with Wings

Terry Foster
The Detroit News
Dino Ciccarelli

Shelby Township – Dino Ciccarelli will be back in the corner of his Ciccarelli's 22 Sports Bar Theater Saturday night, munching on fries and nachos while hoping for a better result from his team as the Red Wings take on the Lightning in Game 5 of their playoff series.

It was 1996 when Ciccarelli last tied up a pair of skates to play an official game with the Red Wings. But he still feels the pain of victory and the agony of defeat every time the Red Wings play.

Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Lightning stings. The talkative Ciccarelli rubbed his hands through his head as Tyler Johnson flipped the puck into an open net a few miles away at Joe Louis Arena.

He was as stunned as most of the patrons. A packed crowd of about 500 grew silent as the Wings tossed away a 2-0 lead during the final 5:26 of regulation and overtime, turning a certain 3-1 advantage in the series into a 2-2 match race.

It was 1994 all over again, a year where Michigan teams suffered stunning losses that turned certain victory into bitter defeat.

This was Kordell Stewart flinging a ball 70 yards in 1994 to Michael Westbrook to shock Michigan, 27-26 on the final play, a game that silenced Michigan Stadium. The play is among the most iconic in sports history.

It was goalie Chris Osgood earlier that year sending a wayward pass along the boards against San Jose in Game 7 in 1994 that ended up in the back of the net for a stunning loss 3-2 loss at Joe Louis Arena.

It was Sterling Sharpe alone in the end zone during a wild-card playoff game between the Packers and Lions. The Lions forgot to cover Sharpe, who grabbed a 40-yard touchdown pass from Brett Favre on the game's final play to win 28-24.

"This one can linger," Ciccarelli said. "It could always be in the back of your head as a player."

He should know. He is in the Hockey Hall of Fame and his 608 career goals are the most ever by an undrafted player. He never won a Stanley Cup as a player in Detroit but joins in spirit on every Red Wing playoff drive.

His perch on game nights is usually his mammoth sports bar in Shelby Township. He also has locations in Auburn Hills and downtown Detroit. Watch for a Mexican-themed sports bar to open in Royal Oak.

After the game Thursday night, the music played at Ciccarelli's 22, but the former Red Wing and his customers, deflated, didn't have much to say.

"Just got to go back at it Saturday," Ciccarelli said.

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