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The Detroit Red Wings Annual Luncheon at the Detroit Economic Club -- Part One

The Detroit Red Wings Annual Luncheon at the Detroit Economic Club -- Part Two

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Local News / Sports

Wednesday, 1 April, 2009 11:54 PM

Detroit Red Wings turn luncheon into a postseason prep

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Detroit Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock addresses the Detroit Economic Club on March 31, 2009.

by Pete Bublitz
petblitz@yahoo.com

 

WATCH: The Detroit Red Wings Annual Luncheon at the Detroit Economic Club -- Part One

The Detroit Red Wings Annual Luncheon at the Detroit Economic Club -- Part Two

Quicktime Required

DETROIT -- Amid the buildup to a hometown-flavored Final Four this weekend and the start of the NHL playoffs in a few weeks, the Detroit Economic Club captured the athletic mood by hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.

In an upper level ballroom at the Motor City Casino on Tuesday, guests, players, and representatives of the franchise were treated to a special luncheon that preceded brief addresses from franchise heads, including Coach Mike Babcock and Executive Vice President Ken Holland, as well as a special question & answer session.

The first to step up to the mic was Ilitch Holdings President/CEO Christopher Ilitch, who began his address by discussing the dedication of the franchise both to the game and to the community.

Describing them as “one hard-working, community-minded group of individuals,” Ilitch added that “they’re always willing to step up and make a difference by supporting the Detroit Red Wings Foundation and so many other charitable and civic efforts.”

The next to speak were Mickey Redmond and Ken Daniels, the televised hockey broadcasting team for Fox Sports Detroit. In their early turn at the mic, the pair was keen to praise the support of the fan base during a period when contention from around the NHL became stronger.

“When you see a crowd like this today, it only fortifies… [that] the support for the Detroit Red Wings is second to none and we sure appreciate that,” said Redmond. “It’s getting tougher and tougher so these guys have to find different ways to be as good as they were in the past.”

Evidence of such contention, according to both broadcasters, was that every other team from the Central Division either held or was in sight of a playoff spot.

While Holland gave his address, he also highlighted the point that there was more balanced contention around the NHL based on the number of teams within reach of a playoff spot. “With six games to go, 21 teams have a chance to make the playoffs. In the West[ern Conference], Columbus is sixth with 86 points and the 11th team has 80 points, so it’s six points from six to eleven; so it’s going to be a real race down to the finish line.”

Holland added that such playoff focus was a factor behind Nashville’s recent 4-3 victory over the Wings on Sunday.

It was a concern over such playoff preparation that was later voiced by Babcock in regards to greater playoff hopes among the rest of the division and conference. “The scary thing is the team we’re playing, and we don’t know who that is, they’ve been in playoff mode for two and a half months,” he said. “That’s what we have to do if we’re going to be successful.”

However, Babcock added that a factor behind last year’s Cup win was related to what the overall team was how much dedication was show throughout the season and postseason. “Are you willing to battle for every inch of ice? After [last year] it was worth it.”

Following the closing addresses, blue cards provided to the tables on which guests could write questions for specific players, Babcock and Holland that would be read out loud. Among the players who stood to answer such questions included forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Kris Draper, and Daniel Cleary, and Red Wings Captain Nicklas Lidstrom.

Prior to the roster’s roll call and exit from the event, a special video with footage from last year’s postseason run highlighted prep for this year’s playoffs.

Just a day prior to April Fools, however, the Red Wings staff unveiled a playoff theme doubled with a gag gift for many in attendance: “Here We Grow Again.” Upon its declaration, in tribute to the playoff beard tradition, gift bags containing fake beards were handed out among the tables, which even much of the Red Wings staff wore with jest.

In the end, the close association between guests and members of the Red Wings franchise was amplified by an earlier comment made by Ilitch: “Win or lose, we all win in this community with this team.”

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

An estimated 650 people attended the meeting of the Detroit Economic Club inside the MotorCity Casino Hotel.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock, General Manager Ken Holland and Team Owner Chris Illitch.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Babcock and Holland listen as Illitch speaks.

 

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