Now that the centers for the Detroit Red Wings alumni team have been “chosen” for their showdown with the Avalanche alumni, it’s time to select who will be flanking them on the left wing. As previously mentioned, the Red Wings and Avalanche will host an alumni game on February 16, a day before their NHL Stadium Series game at Coors Field, and will feature players from the height of their rivalry. As with the centers, the left wings that will make up the team are no-brainers. Here are the most deserving left wings to be a part of the Detroit Red Wings alumni team roster:
One player who contributed to the Red Wings’ success against Colorado, Grind Line member Kirk Maltby is a shoe-in to make the alumni roster. Now part of the Red Wings’ scouting staff, Maltby was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in an article that featured the rivalry in 1997. Avalanche alumni likely won’t have forgotten the vicious slash Maltby laid on Valeri Kamensky, breaking his arm in the process. Always an agitator, Maltby’s grinding presence continually frustrated the Avalanche and other opponents.
The only left wing already committed to the team, Brendan Shanahan played a pivotal role in the rivalry upon his arrival in Detroit. Acquired in 1996 for Paul Coffey, Keith Primeau, and a first round pick, Shanahan’s physical presence helped put the Red Wings over the top and into position to challenge for the Cup throughout his tenure in Motown. Shanahan was the one who met Patrick Roy at center ice as he was coming to Claude Lemieux’s aid and also fought Adam Foote while Mike Vernon took Roy off his hands. Neither Shanahan nor Foote received a penalty then, so they fought off the ensuing faceoff.
Finally, Shanahan popped home the famous “Statue of Liberty” goal that Roy teed up in the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Hopefully Roy will leave a few rebounds on the doorstep for the new Maple Leafs President to bury.
Another left wing that had an issue with Adam Foote, Slava Kozlov was a great goal scorer for the Red Wings during their rivalry years with the Avalanche. In 1996, Kozlov was being ridden into the boards by Foote when he quickly swung around and slammed Foote’s face into the glass, causing a large cut to open on Foote’s face.
Known more as a gentle player, his rare physical action helped fuel the burning hatred these two teams shared for each other.
A nuisance on the ice for opposing goalies, Tomas Holmstrom was an instrumental figure in the Red Wings’ 1998, 2002, and 2008 Stanley Cup runs. While Holmstrom never really engaged in the fighting portion of the rivalry, he constantly battled with Avalanche defensemen in front of the net, allowing teammates a chance to score through a screen. It will be a familiar sight when our favorite #96 is planted in front of Patrick Roy while his best friend, Nicklas Lidstrom, is drilling a clapper from the point.
Tony Wolak is based in the Washington D.C. area and covers the Detroit Red Wings for THW. As a former junior and college hockey player, Tony has a unique perspective on Red Wings topics.