Detroit — As he walked on skates in his playing equipment toward the ice at Joe Louis Arena, where some of the retired Red Wings practiced for the outdoor alumni game against the Avalanche on Friday, Igor Larionov balked at a question about the great old rivalry between the franchises.
“We’re not looking back, we’re looking forward,” said Larionov, only partially in jest, about the upcoming game against the old foes. “So, we’re looking for Friday.
“It should be a good night for everybody.”
The retired Wings clearly feel they had work to do on the ice Thursday, when about a dozen gathered for a workout.
The fact of the matter is, they want to win their game, and they think it might be a bit more competitive than some alumni games.
Minutes later, Joe Kocur and Kris Draper knocked Larionov into the boards and held him there, fencing him in with their sticks. It was a fairly loud thud on the boards, but all three smiled and laughed.
Also among those skating were Kirk Maltby, Chris Chelios and Dino Ciccarelli, all just part of the roster of former Red Wings who will appear in the game.
Mickey Redmond, who is not on the roster, also practiced — and, with a high, hard shot, he nearly knocked the mask off the face of one of the practice netminders , goaltending coach A.J. Walczak, who was little worse for wear.
“I thought the Toronto game, the last 10 minutes, was a heck of a pace for alumni guys getting up and down the ice,” Draper said of the game he played for the Wings alumni against the Maple Leafs on Dec. 31, 2013, in front of 33,000 people at Comerica Park.
“I’ve got to figure this is going to be a competitive hockey game.
“I watched some of the Minnesota-Chicago one (last week), and I don’t think our game is going to be played like that. I think there’s going to be more to it.”
Draper knows their former bitter rivals are preparing.
“Obviously, you know that Patrick Roy has been doing pregame skates with his team; Roy and (Joe) Sakic skated here,” he said. “We’ve been skating at The Joe for four weeks now.
“I think it’s going to be a good game.”
The guys clearly had a lot of fun, together again on the ice.
“It seems to get more competitive as the game wears on, especially if it’s close,” Chelios said of alumni games. “That’s what happened with Toronto and us, a few years back.
“I’m sure guys are looking forward to it. Playing in front of 40,000 people, a lot of guys have never done that.”
Red Wings vs. Avalanche
Faceoff: 7 p.m. Friday, Coors Field, Denver
TV: FSD/NHL Network