As the Detroit Red Wings took the ice Wednesday for the 2014 Winter Classic, center Luke Glendening headed out to take part in his second outdoor game in three days and his fifth outdoor game overall. While Glendening got to live the dream, other Red Wings were left out. Tomas Jurco was sent down to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL following Monday’s Red Wings vs. Nashville Predators game, meaning he not only missed the Winter Classic but was a day late for the Griffins’ outdoor game as well. Sparkplug forward Jordin Tootoo has bounced between Detroit and Grand Rapids this season, but also missed out on both outdoor games. In addition, injuries kept Jonathan Ericsson, Darren Helm, Johan Franzen and Jonas Gustavsson out of action. Mikael Samuelsson was a healthy scratch.
The player left in perhaps the worst situation of all was goaltender Petr Mrazek, who saw photos of his snowman leg pads make the rounds on the internet as the outdoor games neared. Due to Gustavsson’s groin injury, he was kept in Detroit to serve as a backup to Jimmy Howard. He likely would have started Monday’s AHL game had he been sent down to the Griffins, but had no realistic chance of playing at Michigan Stadium because Howard made returning from injury in time for the Winter Classic his main goal.
Glendening not only played Wednesday, but also got to start. Taking the opening faceoff at the Big House had to be an amazing moment for the University of Michigan alum, who had previously played an outdoor game there (2010s “Big Chill”) while with the Wolverines. The Red Wings held an early lead in Wednesday’s game but after two Toronto Maple Leafs goals they needed a goal from Justin Abdelkader in the third period to tie things up and force overtime. The Maple Leafs prevailed in the shootout, giving the Red Wings their third loss in three games and Howard his fourth shootout loss of the season.