Claude Lemieux (Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
If one player could add intrigue to the alumni game between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings, it’s Claude Lemieux. Lemieux confirmed that he would be playing in the Feb. 26 alumni game at the Stadium Series between the former rival teams.
Has there ever been a fight during an alumni game? Because if not, we might see the first.
On Feb. 26, when the Colorado Avalanche take on the Detroit Red Wings at the Stadium Series’ alumni game in Denver this season, Claude Lemieux will be in the lineup for the Avalanche. Lemieux told Bleacher Report’s Adrian Dater that he’s “looking forward” to suiting up for the alumni contest against Detroit, and it’s sure to be fun.
For Red Wings fans, Lemieux’s role in the rivalry between the Red Wings and Avalanche is infamous. It was Lemieux’s hit on Red Wings center Kris Draper during the 1996 post-season which helped spark one of the most heated rivalries of the 1990s. Lemieux’s hit, which earned him a five-minute major and game misconduct, broke Draper’s jaw, cheek and orbital bone.
Lemieux’s hit led to a March 26, 1997 contest that became known as “Fight Night at the Joe.” A series of fights, including an infamous goalie fight between Avalanche netminder Patrick Roy and Red Wings goaltender Mike Vernon. The two teams racked up 134 penalty minutes. Detroit won the game 6-5 in overtime on the strength of a Darren McCarty tally.
Another major incident would break out again on April 1, 1998. In that contest, the two teams combined for 46 penalties for a total of 228 minutes, including major penalties and game misconducts for Roy and Detroit’s Chris Osgood, both of the game’s starting netminders.
With Lemieux set to play in the alumni game, there’s already more intrigue surrounding the Friday night alumni showdown than there has been for any alumni contest in the past. Most alumni games feature players who can at least have a good laugh during the game, but it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a few insults are thrown around or shots are given and taken from members of both the Red Wings and Avalanche alumni teams.
Outside of Lemieux, The Denver Post's Mike Chambers reported in August that a number of big name players would be taking part in the game. For the Avalanche, Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake and Roy will all be in the lineup. The Red Wings roster will include Igor Larionov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan.
“We have had an outstanding rivalry with the Red Wings during those years,” Sakic said in a statement when the alumni game was announced. “We are looking forward to experiencing this grand outdoor setting and a special weekend of hockey in Denver.”
The only thing that could make the game better would be confirmation that McCarty will be suiting up for the Red Wings alumni. Talk about a must-see event.