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Glendening among starters in Winter Classic

Former Wolverine plays in his second outdoor game at alma mater

Wednesday, 01.1.2014 / 7:16 PM ET / News
By Andrea Nelson  - Editorial Assistant |
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Glendening among starters in Winter Classic
Playing in his fifth outdoor game, and second at Michigan Stadium, Luke Glendening had two shots on goal and won 10-of-22 face-offs. (Photo by Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – With the thermometer reading 13 degrees and the wind chill hovering at zero, Red Wings center Luke Glendening took his place in the starting lineup in front of that the league believes was a record-breaking crowd of 105,491 hockey fans at Michigan Stadium in the 2014 Winter Classic.

It was a moment the 24-year-old never thought he’d experience just two short days ago.

“I was planning on watching this one on TV, excited to see how it turned out,” Glendening said on Tuesday. “Now that I have the opportunity to be a part of it, I’m excited.”

After spending two weeks with the Red Wings, Glendening was reassigned to the team’s minor-league affiliate in Grand Rapids on Sunday, and led the Griffins with two goals in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Marlies Monday night. But on his way back to his hometown after the defeat, Glendening received a call from Griffins coach Jeff Blashill that he was to report to Michigan Stadium the following morning.

He was going to play in the Winter Classic.

At Detroit’s first official outdoor practice at Comerica Park two weeks ago, Glendening wouldn’t even let himself think about the possibility of suiting up for the big game at the Big House.

“I just take it day-by-day here,” Glendening said after the outdoor practice. “I don't know how long my time here will last, but you just got to make the most of (the situation) when you're here, and it's an opportunity to make a name for myself.”

Glendening did exactly that, as when the need for an additional center arose, he was the first one the Red Wings looked to just 24 hours before hosting the Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium.

The road to Ann Arbor Tuesday morning was a welcoming sight for Glendening, who was a preferred walk-on with the Wolverines during the 2008-09 season. He finished his four-year career with 31 goals and 39 assists in 165 games, and was one of only eight Michigan players to be named captain of the team in multiple seasons.

“He ended up being our captain his junior and senior years,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said after skating in Game 1 of the Alumni Showdown. “He never led the team in scoring, but he was our leader on and off the ice. Now he’s showing that he can play pro hockey and now he’s in the NHL. He’s a good example for young kids that aren’t getting all the attention and aren’t draftable and aren’t this and aren’t that, but they really want a chance.”

The Winter Classic also marked the second outdoor game Glendening has participated in at the Big House, as he played for Michigan in the 2010 Big Chill against Michigan State. The center is far from an amateur when it comes to outdoor competition, as the New Year’s Day game is his fifth career outdoor game. Glendening has also played against Wisconsin at Camp Randall in 2010, against Ohio State at Cleveland's Progressive Field in 2012 and against the Toronto Marlies Monday as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival’s AHL matchup.

“It’ll be his fifth outdoor game,” Berenson said. “He played a game in Wisconsin, he played in the Big Chill, he played in Cleveland, he played last night and he’s going to play tomorrow, good for him. And Luke is a tremendous kid and he’s one of those kids that they bring him back up and down I think he’s played 16 games for the Wings but he’s a role player, he knows his role, he’s excited to be there so I’m excited for him.”

While Glendening was excited to play in the Winter Classic, he understood the challenges of playing in an outdoor arena, particularly during poor weather conditions.

“You got to keep the game simple,” Glendening said. “When you try to get fancy -- I’m not a very fancy hockey player – the game can get a little sloppy, you got to play north-south.”

“You just got to battle the elements, both teams have to play in it, so it’s not one team’s advantage.”

Although he didn’t record any points in Detroit’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Maple Leafs in the sixth NHL Winter Classic, Glendening notched one hit and won 10 of 22 faceoff attempts.

His hard work on the snow-covered ice didn’t go unnoticed.

“Most kids you call up what they do is they play good for a little bit and then they fall off,” said coach Mike Babcock. “Glendening has been really special for us. We didn’t realize he could skate so good. He’s so hard and so mentally tough. He’s going to be a good NHL player. He’s probably not going to score but he’s going to be a good one.”

Glendening was not available for comment following the Winter Classic.




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80