With the centers and left wings chosen for the Detroit Red Wings’ alumni team roster, it’s time to pick the right wings that will suit up against the Colorado Avalanche alumni before the NHL Stadium Series game at Coors Field. During the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry era, Scotty Bowman iced a number of right wings, making the decision to pick just four all the more difficult. Let’s take a look at who is most worthy of playing in this game, which celebrates the rivalry these two teams entertained the world with from 1996 to 2002:
Besides Steve Yzerman, there is no other Red Wing more deserving of playing in this alumni game more than Darren McCarty. D-Mac is the reason all Red Wings fans celebrate March 26th every year. On March 26, 1997, McCarty showed the entire hockey world that the Red Wings are not to be messed with.
Regardless of how you feel about fighting in hockey, McCarty also showed a generation of hockey players that you stick up for your teammate no matter who the aggressor is.
McCarty’s skill set was not limited to just fighting. Darren had a knack for scoring clutch goals for the Red Wings, especially against the Avalanche. His breakaway goal in Game 1 of the 1997 Western Conference Finals sealed the deal and put the Red Wings ahead in the series. Five years later, McCarty topped that performance in Game 1 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals:
Scoring a hat trick in the third after entering the period tied at two is a remarkable feat. Add in that it was against the Red Wings’ greatest antagonist and Hall-of-Fame goalie, Patrick Roy, solidified Darren’s immortality status.
Fellow Grind Line extraordinaire Joey Kocur deserves a spot on the team despite his limited role in the rivalry. Kocur was been instrumental to the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association and deserves to play for that alone. Signed out of a senior league in 1996, Kocur brought sandpaper and Stanley Cup experience to a Red Wings team needing both. Kocur paid dividends, providing timely goals for both the 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup runs.
Another brawler who scored timely goals, Martin Lapointe played in all but one playoff matchup during the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry era. Lapointe’s blast through Patrick Roy’s glove opened the scoring in Game 6 of the 1997 Western Conference Finals, where the Red Wings would dethrone the defending Stanley Cup champions and advance to the finals.
For the final forward spot, Doug Brown got the nod over Dino Ciccarelli. Like Martin Lapointe, Brown played in five of the six playoff matchups and was the perfect linemate for Sergei Fedorov and Slava Kozlov. Commenting on Claude Lemieux’s hit on Kris Draper, Ciccarelli helped ignite the rivalry with his famous quote, “I can’t believe I shook this guy’s friggin’ hand after the game. That pisses me right off.” That was also the end of Dino’s involvement in the rivalry, having been dealt to Tampa Bay that offseason. Brown played more games against the Avalanche and was there for the iconic moments. Because of that, he’s the last forward selected.
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.