The hotel room they put us in was at Motor City Casino on one of those locked floors that required a key on the elevator. It was really nice and had a great view....but who cares about that right?
The trip was the weekend after training camp so it was hectic getting all the trip details sorted out and getting ready for the trip. Friday rolls around and we got a call that Ken Holland had invited us on a locker room tour after the Friday game in Detroit. That was pretty exciting. We got to talk to Darren Helm, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall (who again remembered me and talked to me about the trip even though he wasn't going) They all kindly signed our jerseys. Highlights of this night was Darren joking around with me about stealing his skates so he wouldn't have to practice the next day and seeing several of the guys in nothing but towels. *insert drool*
Saturday started with us going to watch the guys practice. Helm and Datsyuk both acknowledged us with smiles and waves when they saw us sitting in the bleachers. It was cool seeing the guys skate in a smaller arena. You get to see so much more. Plus its fun to watch the goof off with each other and just have some fun. After that we drove to the airport to fly to Chicago. Once things got rolling security allowed us to take pics in front of the plane outside. Before we went through security Mike Babcock made a point of coming over to introduce himself to us. We then bordered the plane which was incredible. It is total luxury. Ken Holland came over and introduced himself to us. We also met Jim Nill, Ken Kal and Mark Howe.
We were asked to not approach the guys until after the game but they each made a point to stop and talk to us on the way to their seats. The flight was short but fun. Lots of food and great conversation happened. After we landed we immediately boarded the team bus to the United Center. We went over to the visting locker room areas and were presented with our tickets and "media" passes. This allowed us to get back through security after the game. The United Center was incredible and everyone around us was very nice. I have hear stories about Wings fans having issues there but we didn't. After the game we went back on the bus to the plane (did I mention Valtteri Filppula was sitting next to me but across the aisle both ways on the bus?) Once the plane leveled off we were able to get up and talk to the guys. It was mostly guys from Grand Rapids but the Wings on board were Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller, Chris Osgood, Todd Bertuzzi, Brad Stuart, Jonathan Ericsson and Valtteri Filppula. They were all nice, signed autographs, a few took pics, etc.
Sunday we got to go to their practice again and all the guys that were on the plane with us and Kronwall all said hi to us and waved as they go on the ice. We do have a great group on guys on our team. The weekend ended with the game Sunday night. We were exhausted but had so much fun.
To wrap this up....the following Sunday I took my son to the game and he wanted to stop for autographs. Datsyuk stopped and gave him a stuffed animal and signed his jersey...very cool of him. Then Kronwall and Ericsson stopped to sign for him. Kronwall proceeded to ask me how my trip was. Needless to say I am still on a Wings high!
Here are pics of my journey. Posted as thumbnails since there are so many.