This time around, there were not one but two alumni games, held back-to-back Tuesday at a different outdoor rink in Detroit's downtown Comerica Park. It was definitely a bit of overkill — particularly since the games were transparently split into A and B squads — but it also led to some outstanding moments.Red Berenson sounds like a badass. The main event at Michigan Stadium was pretty kickass, too. Hopefully the NHL doesn't kill the impact of these events by having too many (they have 3 more outdoor games coming up in the next few weeks). But honestly, the view from the seats has to be pretty damn crappy, considering how far away the seats are from the rink.
In the first game (the JV one), legendary Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson not only suited up at age 74, he kind of put everyone to shame. It was like watching Jack Palance do one-armed push-ups at the Oscars. Before one crucial faceoff, he even began directing his teammates as if they were his Wolverines. After the game, more than one aging player declared him an idol. "I think I'm lucky," said Berenson, who has been behind the bench at Michigan for 30 years. "I've been able to stay in the game and stay around young kids playing college hockey."
And there was also Jiri Fischer, who at 33 was decades younger than some of his teammates. The former first-round pick was forced to retire at 25 after collapsing from cardiac arrest on the bench in 2005; on Tuesday, he scored the game's first goal, calling it "a little fairy tale."
Thursday, January 2, 2014
A Nice Side Story From the Winter Classic
Katie Baker describes one of the alumni games held at Comerica Park: