Detroit – So, has Steve Ott ever created any enemies around the NHL, with his agitating, pugnacious style of play?
Henrik Zetterberg and Mike Green raised their hands.
The Red Wings had their annual lunch at the Detroit Economic Club, a high demand event every year where humor is encouraged.
Sandwiching their visit, meal and chat with fans from around metro Detroit between practice at Joe Louis Arena and the bus ride to Metro Airport for a game at Boston that is critical to their threatened playoff chances, the Wings were chatty and charming.
And in the absence of Pavel Datsyuk, the retired, resident comedian whose quick wit and somewhat broken English was recently the highlight of the event, Ott and broadcaster Mickey Redmond did their best.
Asked about the grinding schedule this season, that results from the nebulous World Cup of Hockey tacked on to what would normally be the beginning of the schedule, Ott, 34, said, “Well, I’m one of the young guys on the team. So, personally…”
Ott’s decent comic timing provided a pause, and the laughter came.
So Ott continued, with his well-developed sense of irony producing three more facetious lines, in rapid succession.
“I’m going out there and I’m trying to show my opponents my skills,” he said, pausing again for effect. “Myself and my other young guys here, Henrik Zetterberg (who is 36) and Niklas Kronwall (who is also 36).”
The luncheon is part of an annual schedule of such events that also includes auto industry and political concerns, along with another prime activity in the metropolitan area, sports. It did not produce the news it sometimes does, as when Christopher Ilitch, the son of Mike and Marian Ilitch and the president of Ilitch Holdings, spoke about plans and progress for Little Caesars Arena.
The Red Wings did present a video on the last season of Joe Louis Arena and the development of their new venue, which they will share with the Pistons.
Redmond, provoked to memories by the video and questions, talked about hockey and the city.
Appearing with Fox Sports Detroit broadcast partner Ken Daniels, the former 50-goal scorer in consecutive NHL seasons said: “Detroit is Detroit, man. As I told Ken 20 years ago, if you want to be in the hockey business, this is where people want to be.
“People care. It’s not like some places we go where they’re indifferent to the game.
“You may not like their opinion, but they’ve got one. And that’s a good thing. It’s all good when you’re in the hockey business.”