Respect is final takeaway from Wings-Avalanche rivalry

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Denver — There were no punches thrown, no excessive chippiness or anything like that.

No faked punches or anything staged, either.

But Friday’s Stadium Series alumni game between the Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche showed the healthy respect on both sides.

Even if it was an exhibition game, and no spot in the Stanley Cup Finals was at stake.

“There were pretty good battles, you felt those,” Kris Draper said. “You felt that a little bit. The stops and starts, the battling.”

The closest there was to anything outrageously physical?

Kris Draper delivered a nasty little crosscheck to Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote.

It so happens it was Foote who said in a radio interview earlier in the day Draper would be the Red Wings player Foote would most like to punch in the face.

Was this retribution from Draper?

“Aw, pfft,” Draper said when asked if he was surprised by the comment. “All that shows is I was involved in a great rivalry.”

If this was a final chapter of sorts to the rivalry, Darren McCarty said it was a fitting end.

“It wasn’t about the war, it was about the hockey and how good the hockey was,” McCarty said. “How many Hall of Famers were on each side and that’s a big part of what it’s all about.”

Special moment

The most memorable part of the evening might have been in the third period when a video of the rivalry showed on the giant scoreboard. Fans responded with a standing ovation for both teams, and players responded with sticks raised high.

“I told the guys it was the first and only time you’re going to get cheered in Colorado so enjoy it,” McCarty said. “People realize this is the closing of that chapter, and the hatred is there but the respect is also there.”

Where’s the hands?

Tomas Holmstrom had a penalty shot in the third period but didn’t convert, much to his chagrin.

“I have to go back to the North Pole and work on my stickhandling,” Holmstrom said.

Coming back and playing in this game was something Holmstrom enjoyed.

“It’s too bad we don’t do it more often,” Holmstrom said. “I miss it.”

Who looked good?

The most impressive line the Red Wings’ had?

“Shanny (Brendan Shanahan), Igor (Larionov) and Marty (Lapointe), they were fun to watch, they did a lot of good things,” Draper said.

And who looked like he could come back and play in the NHL tomorrow?

“Nick (Lidstrom) looked amazing,” Joe Kocur said. “He should come back and play again.”