DETROIT — Although Kris Draper couldn’t wait to put his No. 33 on again and would be fit and ready for the NHL Alumni Showdown if it took place this week, there’s another longtime Red Wings player who fans were hoping to see again.
That player is current Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.
“I’m going to get Drapes to twist his arm and Cheli (Chris Chelios) to twist his arm,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said at the NHL Winter Classic press conference at Comerica Park. “Obviously, we want him to play. He’s always said no in the past, but let’s see how our arm-twisting does.”
Draper said he planned to work on Yzerman, but it looks like it won’t be an easy sell.
Through the Lightning, Yzerman released a statement about his intentions for the event.
“It will be a fantastic event with two great organizations at a storied venue,” Yzerman said. “The perfect location and matchup, this is wonderful for the NHL.
“At this time, I don’t plan on participating in the alumni game but hope to watch the Outdoor Classic on TV.”
If Draper’s cajoling doesn’t work, there’s another former player who might want in.
“I’d like to think I deserve a tryout,” Holland said. “You start to think of the goalies we’ve had here.
“Hopefully, we get most or all of the people we want. It should be a great celebration of what’s gone on in the Red Wings uniform over the last 40-50 years.”
The current captain’s decision
The Red Wings are hoping captain Nick Lidstrom plays in the Winter Classic next Jan. 1, which would mean he signs for another season after this one.
During the press conference at Michigan Stadium, Lidstrom wasn’t making any hasty decisions about his future.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” Lidstrom said. “It’s only one game, but it’s an intriguing one.”
Lidstrom did say that he enjoyed his first Winter Classic experience, the one at Wrigley Field in 2009.
“The first time we played out, in Chicago, it was a great experience,” Lidstrom said. “A chance to play outdoors when you were a kid growing up and to get the feel again and know you have a chance to play at this stadium with over 100,000 people, it’s going to be a little different than playing in a baseball stadium. I’m sure it’ll be exciting.”
As someone who remembers playing the Toronto Maple Leafs more than once a season, Lidstrom said the 2013 matchup would be a great one.
“An Original Six matchup,” Lidstrom said. “We only play them once or twice a year, and a chance to play them in this kind of venue will be really exciting.
“With Toronto only being four hours away, I’m sure we’ll see a lot of Maple Leaf fans.”
And if Lidstrom doesn’t return to play for the Wings, he could suit up for the Alumni Showdown.
“I guess I have a chance to play in either one,” Lidstrom said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”
Wings ’24-7′ ready?
When Lidstrom was featured on NBC Sports Network’s “NHL 36” — a show that followed him for 36 hours — many of his teammates were noticeably absent.
But all the Wings players will get their closeups as a result of Thursday’s announcement. The NHL partners with HBO for the acclaimed “24/7” show, which goes behind the scenes with the Winter Classic teams in the weeks leading up to the game.
“I think you’re right in that most of the guys tend to shy away from the camera a little bit,” Niklas Kronwall said during the press conference at Michigan Stadium. “But I think that’s something that just comes with it.
“After a few weeks, or a few days even, you’ll get used to having the cameras around and guys will open up and just enjoy the experience.”
Kronwall said he’s actually a fan of the show.
“I’ve seen most of them,” he said. “HBO’s done a great job putting them together. Just that guy’s voice alone makes the show a lot better.
“But I think they’ve done a great job capitalizing different personalities on the teams. You get to know them a lot better.”
Starting goaltender Jimmy Howard will no doubt be featured in the show. Howard said he wouldn’t be shy.
“I think it would be a lot of fun,” he said. “My dad’s already talking about ordering HBO to be able to watch it. It would be a lot of fun to be able to be one of the guys.”
So which player would end up being the breakout star that then-Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was a couple of years ago?
“You might see Pavel a little differently than what he’s viewed in the media,” Lidstrom said. “He can be quite a funny guy, and you might get to see that up close.”
Howard, who has a broken right index finger and has missed the last three games, saw a doctor Wednesday.
“What he can tolerate, he can do,” Holland said. “It’s a 4-to-6 week injury to heal. The longer we can wait, the less risk you take.
“I’m assuming by next week he’ll be practicing, and we’ll see where he’s at.”
At Michigan Stadium, Howard seemed to be accelerating the timeline.
“We’re down to day to day pretty much,” he said. “Hopefully, Friday I’ll be able to take some shots. Every single day it’s feeling better and better.”
Although he’s already played in 44 games this season, Howard isn’t enjoying his “break.”
“I like being out there with the guys,” Howard said. “I can’t stand watching the games. I get too nervous.
“I can’t wait to get back out there. I just love competing and stopping pucks for the guys.”
As for Danny Cleary, who missed the third period of Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers because of a painful knee, he will miss the weekend games.
“He’s going to have it drained,” Holland said. “I’m not sure if they’re going to give him a cortisone injection or not.
“He needs some time off, give him the weekend and then we’ll re-evaluate on Monday.”
Coach Mike Babcock said Jan Mursak will take Cleary’s place in the lineup.