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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
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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 - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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