Wings’ cancer awareness game ‘means a lot’ to Ouellet
Detroit — Each season the Red Wings host a Hockey Fights Cancer Night, part of the NHL’s effort to raise money and recognition in the fight against the dreaded disease.
For Red Wings defenseman Xavier Ouellet, Tuesday night will hit extremely close to home.
Ouellet’s mother, Marie-Josee, is back in Montreal fighting liver cancer.
“She’s going through chemo, going through treatment right now,” Ouellet said after Tuesday’s morning skate. “It’s been a couple of months now.
“(We’re) trying to go day to day, I guess.”
Ouellet talked in measured tones, directly, but there was no doubt the emotion and impact of the entire situation wasn’t far from him.
But Ouellet was quick to point out his family is only one of many, many others out there who have to deal with the battle against cancer.
“It’s something that’s really hard to deal with,” Ouellet said. “A lot of people are affected by it. It’s a really sensitive subject for everyone.”
Ouellet’s mother visited last week, and just the mere thought of her spending time with her brightened Ouellet’s face.
“She came to visit last weekend, that was fun,” Ouellet said. “And we’re (Red Wings) are going there (this weekend, to play the Canadiens on Saturday). We’re trying to support and spend as much time as I can with her. We bring her granddaughter around her, and have some family time.”
Ouellet believes an evening to highlight the fight against cancer — the NHL began the hockey fights cancer initiative in 1998 and raised $16 million for cancer programs — is beneficial in many ways.
“It’s huge because they raise a lot of money and do a lot of things around the league to support that,” Ouellet said. “It affects a lot of people and can help a lot of people.
“It’s good we can do something like that around the league. The game (Tuesday night) means a lot to me.”
More than 100 cancer patients, survivors and caretakers the American Cancer Society will watch Tuesday’s game from the Michigan First Gondola at Little Caesars Arena as guests of the Red Wings.
Prior to the game, they watched the morning skate and had lunch after the practice, and met Red Wings players and coaches.
Coach Jeff Blashill felt the experience was beneficial to keep life in perspective.
“We get to play a game and we have a great life here in the NHL,” Blashill said. “Let’s make sure we appreciate it every day. There are people out there who are fighting a lot tougher battles.”
Frk getting close
Forward Martin Frk (groin) is aiming for a return to the lineup this weekend after going through Tuesday’s morning skate.
Frk will miss his seventh consecutive game Tuesday since injuring himself Nov. 11 against Columbus.
“You never want to get injured,” Frk said. “I want to get back as soon as I can into the lineup.”
The topic of Frk’s shot, one of the hardest in the league, somehow got into the conversation and Frk marveled reporters with how he remembers all 10 occasions where he’s broken panes of glass with that shot.
“It’s fun, I’m pretty sure I’m around 10,” Frk said. “I had a couple in junior hockey, I had two in two weeks this summer (during workouts).
“You can kind of remember that.”
Frk, obviously, has never had to pay for any of the broken glass — but did say the rink manager at his workout rink this summer wasn’t thrilled with putting in new glass.
And, in junior hockey, he was asked to sign the broken glass.
“They wanted a signature on it,” Frk said. “It was kind of cool.”
Defenseman Trevor Daley (neck) will miss his second consecutive game. Daley hurt himself in an awkward collision Friday against the New York Rangers.
Daley is skating with the team, and could play later in the week.
… Blashill isn’t surprised Tuesday’s opponent, the Kings (13-8-3, 29 points), are back among the league leaders after missing the playoffs last season.
“They had a huge part of their team out for most of last year, one of the best goalies (Jonathan Quick) in the league,” Blashill said. “They don’t take any unnecessary risks up the ice, they get the puck in behind you, grind you in the offensive zone, and they’re a great checking team.
“Those things have been around a while. They’ve been a real good team for a number of years.”