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Some NHL players, like Alex Ovechkin, have said they plan to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, despite the league announcing it won't send its players to compete.
Jennifer Griggs / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It was recently announced that the National Hockey League (NHL) will not be sending its players to the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The last time NHL players weren't included in the Olympic hockey tournament was in 1998. After nearly two decades, that is expected to come to a close next year when the Winter Games are hosted in Seoul, South Korea.

Kris Draper played 17 seasons and won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings.
Dinur / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's been called "Brawl in Hockeytown." Some call it "Fight Night at the Joe."

On March 26, 1997, Darren McCarty of the Detroit Red Wings punched, then kept on punching, Claude Lemieux of the Colorado Avalanche.

The reason for that fight happened 301 days earlier in Game 6 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals when Lemieux hit Wings center Kris Draper from behind, sending Draper face-first into the bench and smashing his face (see video below). He suffered a broken orbital bone, a broken cheekbone, a broken nose, a broken jaw and a concussion. 

Mark Goebel / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In all the four major sports, no team has had a longer streak of consecutive playoff appearances than the Detroit Red Wings.

The last 25 years, Red Wings fans have enjoyed playoff hockey in the spring, but that could be coming to an end.

Former Michigan hockey player Scott Matzka drops the puck at center ice to start the alumni game.
Michigan Hockey

The most compelling sports story of the week was not the NFL playoffs, the college football playoffs, the NBA, or the NHL. It wasn’t even televised.

On Saturday night, the Red Wing alumni team took on a squad of former University of Michigan players. It was just an exhibition, which only mattered to those who thought it mattered. But 2,000 folks did, because it mattered a great deal to a former Michigan star named Scott Matzka

Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon provides a round-up of everything Michigan sports.
Flickr user Michael Righi / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

Although it’s the offseason for most major American sports, there’s still plenty of action in the sports world. Michigan sports has seen some important moves in both professional and collegiate athletics.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Stateside to explain all the recent moves.

 

Gordie Howe circa 1966.
Arnie Lee / Wikimedia Commons

Hockey legend Gordie Howe has died. He was 88 years old.

Howe played pro hockey longer than anyone else, and he remains “Mr. Hockey” to generations of fans.

Gordie Howe played hockey with an intensity he learned as a boy in Saskatoon during the Depression.

In his 2014 autobiography, Howe wrote about playing for his school team -- not on the right wing where generations of hockey fans were used to seeing him -- but as a goaltender.

Red Wings player hoists the Stanley Cup
Michael Righi / wikimedia commons - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

For a record 25th straight season, the Detroit Red Wings made the playoffs. For the seventh straight season, they didn’t get past the second round.

Well, no matter, Wings fans because whether the Pittsburgh Penguins or the San Jose Sharks raise the Cup, they will be following in your favorite players’ footsteps.

How so?

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon joins us again for this week’s sports roundup.

Tigers lose to Royals

According to Bacon, the Tigers' story hasn’t changed.

“There’s nothing to see here, people,” he says, explaining that the team showed their hand at the end of the trade deadline some weeks ago.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It’s official: Jeff Blashill is the Detroit Red Wings’ new head coach.

Blashill was widely considered the heir apparent to Mike Babcock, who just left to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs. He signed a four-year deal with the team worth an undisclosed amount.

Blashill has been the popular and successful coach of the Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, for three seasons.

red wings warming up before a game
Flickr user Ellen / Flickr

The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round series. This is the 24th straight season the Wings have made it to the playoffs.

Dan4th Nicholas / Flickr

Look around the crowd at any Red Wings game. You’ll see plenty of fans wearing the #24 jersey, even though it’s been more than five years since Hall of Famer  Chris Chelios skated for the Wings.

Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock calls him “the greatest American player of all time.”

Now we learn what his storied career was like from Number 24 himself: Chris Chelios’ memoir is titled "Made In America." Listen to Chelios discuss his memoir below. 


G.P. Putnam & Sons

DETROIT (AP) - Hockey great Gordie Howe has lost some function on the right side of his body after having a stroke Sunday in Texas.

  Howe's daughter Cathy says the 86-year-old Detroit Red Wings legend has lost much use of his right arm and right leg. Howe suffered the stroke in Lubbock, Texas, where his daughter lives.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

This week’s big National Hockey League game at the Big House in Ann Arbor drew a big crowd.

Federal officials announced today the game also drew a few crooks.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations division says it usually sees an uptick in counterfeit sports merchandise during big events like the NHL’s Winter Classic.

NHL Network / via Twitter

Downtown Detroit is alive with the sounds and smells of outdoor hockey right now, as the city enters the fifth and final day of the Hockeytown Winter Festival.

And those festivities are just a prelude to the big event in Ann Arbor — the 6th annual NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on New Year’s Day.

That outdoor game will feature two of the NHL’s Original Six teams, the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The game alone is expected to draw well over 100,000 fans to the Big House.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Red Wings’ charity and the National Hockey League have teamed up to refurbish Detroit’s only outdoor hockey rink.

The gift, which benefits southwest Detroit’s Clark Park, was announced there Monday. The facility will get a new Zamboni, new lighting and other upgrades worth about $200,000.

screen grab from web cam / Detroit Sports Commission

The NHL Winter Classic will be held in Ann Arbor's Michigan Stadium on January 1, 2014. The Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the Detroit Red Wings. Tickets will cost... a lot.

Right now, a hockey rink is being built on top of a football field.

The Detroit Sports Commission has set up a webcam so you can watch the progress. See below:

Wikipedia

The Detroit Red Wings are a step closer to getting a new home.

Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority approved a concession management agreement that provides the framework for a new $450 million sports and entertainment arena Friday.

A football field.
user: Michael Knight / Flickr

Students in Michigan's public schools are back at their desks.

 And for young football players, soccer players and other athletes around the state, practice has been happening in earnest for weeks. This will be the first school sports season under Michigan's new sports concussion law.  We wanted to find out what it will mean to student athletes, their coaches and their parents. Laura Rowen joined us today. She's an injury prevention consultant with the Michigan Department of Community Health. Listen to the audio above.

user: All your picture are belong to us / Flickr

Wednesday night the Detroit Red Wings lost their final playoff game of the season to the Chicago Blackhawks, breaking the hearts of hockey fans across Michigan.  But according to Michigan Radio Sports Commentator John U. Bacon, it was still a series to savor.

Most sports fans are happy just to see their team make the playoffs. But Detroit Red Wings fans have been able to take that for granted for a record 22 straight seasons.  The last time the Red Wings didn’t make the playoffs, 1990, not one current NHL player was in the league.  Some of the current Red Wings weren’t born.  Nine current franchises weren’t yet created.  

But the record seemed doomed to be broken this season.

Professional hockey is coming to Ann Arbor after all.

The National Hockey League announced today that the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings will play next year at Michigan Stadium.

The NHL's Winter Classic was scheduled to be played in Ann Arbor this past January.  But the game was canceled due to a contract dispute between team owners and the players.

When this year's event was canceled, the league had said it would schedule the next Winter Classic at the stadium, which holds more than 100,000 people.

Sheldon Boyd / YouTube

I’ve played hockey my entire life, so I’m biased. But when you combine ice skating, stick handling, passing, shooting and yes, body-checking, in one game, you’ve got it all.

Until they start playing lacrosse in the water or golf on skis, hockey will remain the hardest sport to play, and the most impressive to see played well.

There’s nothing like it. 

So, for Detroit Red Wings fans, the NHL lockout was a nightmare.

Jeremy Bronson / Creative Commons

The ongoing lockout of the National Hockey League could cause the cancelation of the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor. The outdoor game is supposed to be at the University of Michigan Big House on New Year’s Day. The week-long Hockeytown Winter Festival in Detroit would be canceled with it.

That would be a bummer for the Red Wings’ affiliated team the Grand Rapids Griffins, which is supposed to play at the festival.

“It’s a sad time for hockey right now,” said Bob Kaser, VP of Community Relations for the Griffins (among other job titles).

He says some fans have traveled to Grand Rapids to get their hockey fix during the lockout. Fox Sports Detroit broadcast a Griffins game last week. But Kaser’s not really thrilled about the circumstances.

(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:AndrewHorne)

The National Hockey League tomorrow will make official that Michigan Stadium will host next year’s Winter Classic matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Today,  the University of Michigan Board of Regents agreed to lease the college football stadium for a pro hockey game for three million dollars.

Big time hockey in the open air is rare, but not unheard of.    For example, this won’t be the first hockey game at the Big House.  More than 104 thousand fans watched U of M defeat MSU on a specially built ice rink on the Michigan Stadium field in 2010.  The NHL matchup is expected to draw as many fans, and possibly more,  to Ann Arbor.

The largest crowd ever to see an NHL hockey game was 71 thousand at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008. 

This will be the second time the Red Wings have skated in the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic.  

Since its inception in 2008,  the Winter Classic has become a popular event on the NHL schedule.  

User: dmealiffe / flickr.com

Canada might be the only nation on earth that invented its favorite sport, has no other sport that’s even half as popular, and remains arguably the best in the world at playing it. How big is hockey in Canada?  They put the sport on their five-dollar bill.  It has a drawing of kids playing a pick-up game outside, and a quote from a beloved children’s story, “The Hockey Sweater.”  It goes like this: