Hockey fans are greeted by a familiar face as they gather in downtown Detroit, Mich., to celebrate the Red Wings Stanley Cup Championship with a parade in honor of the team. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Gary Malerba
DETROIT - Goaltender Chris Osgood stopped just about everything in the Stanley Cup playoffs. With thousands of jubilant fans celebrating the Red Wings' title Friday, he couldn't stop his emotions.
"I've had to wipe away a few tears," he said. "This is why I play in Detroit."
Two days after Detroit once again raised the hallowed trophy, more than 1.4 million spectators jammed downtown to join the party.
Enduring temperatures reaching as high as 33 C with sweltering humidity, they stayed put for the 2 1/2-hour-long procession and 45-minute rally in a jam-packed Hart Plaza.
Fans stood and sat four to six people deep, screaming when former Red Wings great Steve Yzerman, and current stars forward Dan Cleary, captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Osgood were driven by.
Dallas Drake, who waited 14 seasons to win the Stanley Cup, said now he was ready to enjoy more of the spoils.
"It's a special feeling," Drake said as fans chanted his name. "I couldn't be prouder right now. I'm a little bit taken aback by it."
The team followed a familiar path - the 2002 Red Wings and the 2004 Pistons travelled the same parade route after winning titles.
These Red Wings clinched the Cup on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, beating the Penguins 3-2 in Game 6.
Forward Dan Cleary, the first man from Newfoundland and Labrador to win the Cup, called the accomplishment a high honour.
"I think everybody back in Newfoundland is proud," he said. "I'm proud. I can't wait to bring the Cup home."
Henrik Zetterberg hoisted the Conn Smythe Trophy above his head. The playoff MVP said he was happy to share the Cup win with fans.
"Time of my life right now," Zetterberg said. "This is unbelievable."
The last vehicle in the parade carried Lidstrom, who held the Cup aloft to the delight of the crowd.
The crowd was filled with Red Wings fans decked in jerseys and other red-and-white gear. Some wore plush octopi on their heads, a nod to the team's mascot.
One woman brought a real, albeit dead, octopus with her and swung it over her head.
These are good times for the Red Wings. The team set a record with 30 wins in the first half of the season, matching Montreal's record with 100 points for the eighth straight year. The Red Wings also extended the longest active streak in sports with its 17th straight post-season appearance.
Detroit's key players are under contract for at least next season, leaving only a handful of decisions during the off-season.
For spectator Corinne Gordon, the parade was bridge building. The Red Wings' win gave fans the chance to temporarily put aside the economic doldrums and the mayoral saga that have dominated the news for months.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former top aide, Christine Beatty, face criminal charges, including perjury, stemming from testimony during a whistle-blowers' trial in which the pair denied having a romantic relationship.
"There's been so much doom and gloom and separation between the city and suburbs because of what the mayor has done," Gordon said. "This brings people together."
Kilpatrick refused to discuss the text-messaging scandal on Friday, but did say the success of the Red Wings has helped to pull together not just Detroit, but the region. He said sports fans who came downtown for the parade and rally can see what's been done to help revitalize Detroit.
"This is so much different from 2002," Kilpatrick said. "Detroiters should be absolutely proud of what we've been able to pull together and to do together."
Associated Press writers Margaret Harding and David N. Goodman contributed to this report.