Fans meet Red Wings, whet appetite for hockey season
Detroit — Anybody wondering whether Detroit isn’t still Hockeytown needed to be at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday.
Red Wings fans were streaming into the arena throughout the day for the annual HockeyFest, gathering autographs, snapping pictures and enjoying their time with the Red Wings.
“This is always fun, and it’s another sign how much the fans love hockey around here,” red Wings forward Joakim Andersson said. “They can’t wait for hockey season to get started, and we can’t either.”
Several players on the roster, along with alumni, broadcasters Ken Daniels and Ken Kal, were on hand. And fans had the opportunity to go behind the scenes in the locker room and other parts of the arena.
“We’ve attended a few times, and can’t wait it every year,” said Bill Sandlak, 22, of Chesterfield Township. “We’re big Red Wings fans. This is a lot of fun, a nice way to sort of get you motivated for hockey season.”
The Red Wings received some good news last week as forward Johan Franzen (concussion) was cleared to participate in camp beginning Friday.
He is expected to be ready for the opener against the Maple Leafs on Oct. 9.
“The main issue has been the exertion,” said Franzen, who has been skating with teammates the last few weeks during informal workouts. “When I get really tired, that is when the head’s been shutting down. So, if I can take that, I feel that I can take a few bumps, too.
“My threshold is getting higher and higher, so I try to listen to my body and push as hard as I can. But, if I have a setback, I let up and start from scratch, again.”
Franzen hasn’t played since Jan. 6 after suffering a concussion. He played 33 games and had 22 points (seven goals).
The Red Wings can reach Tuesday’s championship game of the Prospects Tournament in Traverse City with a victory tonight over the Stars.
The Red Wings are 2-0 with victories over the Hurricanes (1-0) and Blackhawks (3-2).
Goaltender Jake Paterson, battling to earn playing time in Grand Rapids, has stopped 52-of-54 shots in the tournament.
Pavel Datsyuk (ruptured ankle tendons) will be in Traverse City but will not participate in hockey activities.
He had surgery June 26, and told European reporters during the summer recovery time is 4-5 months, meaning a return likely would be late October to late November.