Whoa, baby, now that’s a teaser!
We know there hasn’t been much to celebrate in Detroit’s four major professional sports lately, a town searching for its first playoff victory since April 2016.
But throughout the years there have been plenty of glory days. The Bad Boys and Goin’ to Work Pistons. The Tigers’ runs in 1968 and 1984 — even in 2006 and 2011-14.
The Lions; alright there’s not much to work with there.
But in all of the moments and rivalries this town has had, few if any compare to the mid-90s-early 2000s with the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche.
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The Red Wings are in the 25th anniversary from their 1997 Stanley Cup title run and on Friday, a trailer for an ESPN E:60 documentary coming this June on the rivalry between the then-Western Conference powers was released on the network’s “The Point” show.
This set social media into a tizzy.
“I’m excited as much as everyone else is to be able to tie everyone’s perspectives in. Hats off to ESPN,” former Red Wing Darren McCarty wrote the Free Press on Friday. “This has been the 30/30 I’ve been waiting for………..but hey I’m biased. Plus if you didn’t get chills seeing Vladdy at the end of the promo.”
The video lasts 2:20, begins with an old clip of Colorado’s Claude Lemieux discussing his definition of a rivalry. He explains how if it stays on the ice, it’s not that great of a rivalry.
Cut scene, Lemieux cross checks Kris Draper into the boards in Game 6 of the 1996 West finals, busting open his lip and bashing his face in, which required reconstructive surgery.
Players on that Detroit team still say they didn’t know how badly Draper had been hurt until they saw him on the plane after the game, and wish they hadn’t shaken hands postgame after losing the series in six games.
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It’s widely viewed as the hit that sparked the rivalry as Colorado would go on to close out the series that night with a 4-1 victory on its way to winning the Stanley Cup over Florida.
Lemieux missed the first two meetings the following season. Somehow, nothing boiled over in the third matchup when the two met in Colorado.
That all changed March 26, 1997 at Joe Louis Arena, with the greatest brawl in hockey history.
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McCarty talks about his “cold cock” of Lemeiux, leaving his face dripping blood. Replays of the goalie brawl between Patrick Roy and Mike Vernon who come flying in from off the screen. Then, there’s Brendan Shanahan, who said, “I just thought, I’m (expletive) grabbing somebody here. Somebody’s getting it.”
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There are shots of Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, Shanahan, Peter Forsberg, Roy, Scotty Bowman, Marc Crawford, McCarty, Adam Foote, Draper, Mike Ricci and Vernon all settling into their chair to discuss the rivalry with the documentary’s directors.
And then, Vladimir Konstantinov, who suffered life-altering injuries in a car accident six days after the Red Wings won the 1997 Stanley Cup, comes into the frame and is asked “what is your favorite memory of that rivalry with the Avalanche?”
“Beat them,” Vladdy says.
The two-hour documentary is scheduled to air during the Stanley Cup Final, which will begin in mid-June.
The Wings and Avalanche met five times in seven postseasons from 1996-2002, with the Wings winning in 1997 and 2002, and the Avalanche winning in 1996, 1999 and 2000. Detroit won the Cup three times during that time, and Colorado won twice.
MORE: Road to Stanleytown: Avalanche coach accuses Vladimir Konstantinov of dirty tricks
MORE: Au Rev-Roy! Remembering the night Wings destroyed hated Avalanche in 2002
Relive the glory
The Free Press has crafted a 208-page, full-color, hardcover collector’s book with fresh insights and dynamic storytelling about the 1996-97 Wings. It’s called “Stanleytown 25 Years Later: The Inside Story on How the Stanley Cup Returned to the Motor City after 41 Frustrating Seasons.” It’s only $29.95 and it’s available at RedWings.PictorialBook.com. (It’ll make a great Father’s Day gift for the Wings fanatic in your life!) Personalized copies available via [email protected]
Contact Tony Garcia at [email protected] Follow him on twitter at @realtonygarcia.