Whoa, baby, now it’s a teaser!
We know there hasn’t been much to celebrate in the big four pro sports in Detroit lately, a city looking for its first playoff victory since April 2016.
But over the years there have been many glory days. The Bad Boys and Goin’ to Work Pistons. The Tigers races in 1968 and 1984 – even in 2006 and 2011-14.
The Lions; okay, there’s not much to work on there.
But in all the moments and rivalries this city has had, few if any compare to the mid-90s and early 2000s with the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche.
[ How to order new Free Press book commemorating Red Wings’ road to glory ]
The Red Wings are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their 1997 Stanley Cup title run and on Friday, a trailer for an ESPN E:60 documentary coming in June about the Western Conference powerhouse rivalry of the time aired on the network’s “The Point.” To display.
This sent social media into a frenzy.
“I’m as excited as everyone to be able to connect everyone’s perspectives. Hats off to ESPN,” former Red Wing Darren McCarty wrote to the Free Press on Friday. “It’s the 30/30 I was expecting………..but hey, I’m biased. Also, if you didn’t get chills seeing Vladdy at the end of the promo.”
The video lasts 2h20, begins with an old clip of Claude Lemieux from Colorado discussing his definition of a rivalry. He explains that if he stays on the ice, it’s not such a big rivalry.
Deleted scene, Lemieux runs into Kris Draper in the boards during Game 6 of the 1996 Western Finals, splitting his lip and punching his face, which required reconstructive surgery.
Players on this Detroit team still say they didn’t know how hurt Draper was until they saw him on the plane after the game, and wish they hadn’t shaken hands afterwards the game after losing the series in six games.
ROUTE TO STANLEYTOWN:Red Wings beat Avs in Game 6 to reach 1997 Stanley Cup Final
FLASHBACK FROM MITCH ALBOM:Red Wings beat Patrick Roy and Avs to advance to 1997 Stanley Cup Final
It is widely considered the hit that sparked the rivalry as Colorado would close out the series that night with a 4-1 win en route to winning the Stanley Cup over Florida.
Lemieux missed the first two meetings the following season. Somehow, nothing boiled over in Game 3 when the two met in Colorado.
Everything changed on March 26, 1997 at Joe Louis Arena, with the biggest fight in hockey history.
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McCarty talks about his “cold dick” of Lemeiux, leaving his face dripping with blood. Replays of the goalie fight between Patrick Roy and Mike Vernon coming in from off screen. Then there’s Brendan Shanahan, who said, “I just thought I was catching (expletive) somebody here. Someone gets 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 chairs to discuss the rivalry with the documentary filmmakers.
And then Vladimir Konstantinov, who suffered life-changing injuries in a car accident six days after the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1997, walks into the frame and is asked “what’s your favorite memory. of this rivalry with the Avalanche?”
“Beat them,” Vladdy said.
The two-hour documentary is set to air during the Stanley Cup Finals, which kicks off in mid-June.
The Wings and Avalanche met five times in seven playoffs from 1996 to 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 span and Colorado won twice.
AFTER:Road to Stanleytown: Avalanche coach accuses Vladimir Konstantinov of low blows
AFTER:At the 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 ideas and dynamic storytelling about the 1996-97 Wings. It’s titled, “Stanleytown 25 Years Later: The Inside Story on the Stanley Cup’s Return to the Motor City After 41 Frustrating Seasons.” It’s only $29.95 and it’s available at RedWings.PictorialBook.com. (This will make a great Father’s Day gift for the Wings fanatic in your life!) Custom copies available via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Tony Garcia at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @realtonygarcia.