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It was a family affair for Howard in Ann Arbor

Wings' goalie played for U.S. development program near the Big House

Thursday, 01.2.2014 / 11:16 AM ET / News
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It was a family affair for Howard in Ann Arbor

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Since the details of the 2014 NHL Winter Classic were first announced, players on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Red Wings have been fielding numerous ticket requests from friends and family. But for Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard, the big game at Michigan Stadium will be a huge moment for his family that was made even more special after the game ended.

Howard lived in Ann Arbor while playing with the United States National Team Development Program as a teenager, so he had plenty of old friends in attendance. But the Big House also hosted four generations of Howard's family for the Winter Classic. Howard's grandfather, James Howard I, was in attendance, along with his father, James Howard II, and his two-year-old son, James Howard IV.

For Grandpa Howard, known as J-One among friends and family, it's an incredible event that he didn't exactly envision when the Detroit goalie was a child. A wrestling coach at Oswego State University in western New York, the eldest Howard had different plans for J-Three.

"We kept wanting him to wrestle, but he gravitated to the ice and we couldn't get him off the ice," James Howard I said. "We allowed our kids to do whatever they wanted. When he [James Howard II] was young, he wanted to skate all the time, so we let him skate. We couldn't get him to the mat, he kept going to the ice."

The man known in the Howard family as J-Two helped groom his son's hockey development in western New York. And he was thrilled to be back in Ann Arbor to see his son play in one of the sports greatest spectacles.

"It's going to be stressful, but we're just going to take it all in and have fun," James Howard II said.

The day could be made even more stressful when the United States Olympic team is named after the game. If Howard is included on the roster, it would be the culmination of years of training and hard work for the 29-year-old raised in the small border town of Ogdensburg, N.Y.

"That would be great. He's worked so hard to accomplish what he's accomplished," said Howard II, before the game. "Growing up, he was sort of under the radar, nobody really knew about him where we lived. Our community is only about 9,000 people."

The Detroit goalie's father will likely toss and turn the entire day when his son competes on hockey's grandest stage. As for his 80-year-old grandfather, he's just having a good time and enjoying a special day for his family.

"I don't get stressed anymore. When you're 80 years old, you don't get stressed," James Howard I said. "You let it flow, man. You let it flow."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
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

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
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
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80