- File Photo/Daily
By Alejandro Zúñiga, Daily Sports Editor
Published February 18, 2014
The man wore a maroon Michigan hockey practice jersey but also donned clashing bright-red gloves and breezers.
He participated in the team’s speed drills Tuesday, effortlessly reaching the other end of the ice first as his competitors’ best efforts left them several feet behind. And when most of the others had skated back into the locker room, he took a moment to challenge the goaltender crouched in the crease, finding twine easily and celebrating with little more than a smile.
The man was Luke Glendening, who from 2008-12 scored 31 goals in his 165-game tenure for the Wolverines.
After graduating, he signed a one-year contract with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins, helping them win the AHL championship and take the Calder Cup in 2012-13. By the following season, the Detroit Red Wings had noticed his success and called him up to the National Hockey League.
And on New Year’s Day this year, he took the opening faceoff for the Red Wings against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in front of a crowd of more than 100,000.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Glendening said of his time in the pros. “It’s been a dream come true, and it’s been everything that I could ever ask for.”
The NHL is currently on sabbatical for the Winter Olympics, and many of the Red Wings are in Sochi representing their respective countries. Those who aren’t receive a much-deserved break, but they also try to avoid rust by training elsewhere during the time off. So when the Michigan coaching staff contacted Glendening, he jumped at the opportunity.
“He just needs ice,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “He just wanted to skate for a day or two.”
Yost Ice Arena looks different than it did when the forward played there. Large windows interrupt the brick of the north and south ends of the building, and some of the bleacher seats have been moved further away from the ice. But to Glendening, it still felt like home.
“It looks a lot different than when I played here, but it’s still a special place to me,” he said. “So many great memories, and it’s fun to be back.”
The Wolverines were different, too. Glendening only recognized the upperclassmen, but he took advantage of the reunion, laughing with senior defenseman Mac Bennett near the end of practice.
Joe Louis Arena, not Yost, is home. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, not Bennett, are his teammates. His colors are the red and white of the Winged Wheel, not the maize and blue of the block ‘M.’
After the coaches and most of the players left, Glendening stepped off the ice alone. He spoke briefly to reporters and then turned away, walking in his mismatched Michigan shirt and Red Wings pants into the tunnel.
NOTES: Berenson confirmed Tuesday afternoon that freshman defenseman Kevin Lohan and junior defenseman Mike Chiasson will play Friday against Penn State. They’ll fill in for defensemen Michael Downing and Andrew Sinelli, who were suspended one game each by the NCAA for separate incidents in the Wolverines’ loss at Minnesota last Saturday. … Berenson also said junior forward Alex Guptill “should be good to go” against the Nittany Lions. He missed Michigan’s series against the Golden Gophers with an upper-body injury.