On Tuesday night, I attended the Detroit Red Wings’ preseason intrasquad scrimmage, the Red & White Game and had a great time. My photos are here.
Some bullet points from the night:
- We had great seats: second row, just to the left of the goalie.
- This meant we were right next to the main rink entrance where the zambonis and, more importantly, the players, enter the ice. Seeing these guys up close was incredibly cool. First reaction: Bertuzzi is a Man. Franzen and Kronwall are not small humans themselves, especially on skates. Also, a lot of the younger guys trying to play their way onto the team are young and look even younger. Holmstrom is the junkyard dog, no doubt, but he wasn’t as grizzled as I might have expected, but then again, it’s early. Seeing Lidstrom, Datsyuk, and Zetterberg simply was very neat.
- As the previous point suggests, they brought a lot of starters out for the event, which was nice.
- I could have officiated this game. While I think I have an above-average understanding of hockey, I’m far from an expert, I haven’t kept up with recent rule changes, and I don’t skate so well. Luckily for me, though, none of these weaknesses would have been tested had I been wearing the ice-zebra suit on Tuesday night. There was only slightly more officiating than there is in a typical NBA All-Star Game, but we came to see these guys puck, not sit in solitary.
- It’s hard to figure out how to root in a game like this, and really, to pick up and follow a consistent arc of the flow of the game. (Do I want to see goals? How good of a measure is this of our goalie prospects? Who exactly is on each side again?) Luckily for us, a gal in the next row took it upon herself to provide general commentary– it’s all about stamina, we’re told– and, for no apparent reason, align herself with the Red squad. This made it easy for everyone else in the section to cheer on White.
- Red won, 6-4.
- I almost literally ran into Wings’ GM Ken Holland while waiting in line for beers that, despite the early date, were retailing at midseason prices. Rabble rabble.
- Events like this bring out a particularly dedicated, almost insider crowd. It was fun to listen to fans’ stories while waiting in concession lines.
- Because of the laissez faire approach to officiating, the game barely took more than two hours. I didn’t notice whether they took full, 20-minute intermissions.
- There was something at stake that night, at least for the younger players. While most of the stand-by starters receded as the game went on, those with less secure jobs picked up the hitting and scoring.
- What’s nice is that Grand Rapids is the home of the Wings’ primary (only?) minor league team, so those playing that night who don’t make it to full-time gigs in Detroit will play for GR’s team. There is a good parent team connection. The efforts to brand Grand Rapids “Hockeytown West” come off a bit strained, though.
- On the whole, a fun night made memorable with some great seats, and an exciting way to get into a hockey mood as this season gets underway.