Return To Hockey Town

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

When My wife Candy decided she wanted to see her dad on his 79th birthday on October 26, I had no problem going to Wisconsin doing this.

Scott and Detroit News
Sportswriter Ted Kulfan

This idea made sense for a lot of reasons.

She didn’t have to request time off from her full-time job during Thanksgiving or the Holidays in December which would conflict with numerous requests by her employees.

I figured that we should take a flight and spend a week in the area.

She had another request and that was to drive instead of fly. 

I wasn’t keen on the idea since a couple weeks prior, I leased a vehicle in Detroit the week of my mom’s memorial service and had to drive from Detroit to Deerfield Beach which took 22 hours.

I really wasn’t ready for an extensive road trip with a short turnaround time. 

But considering the way she asked me with her sweet tone and convinced me that it would save us a lot of money, I reluctantly agreed to this. 

Scott and George Eichorn
Little Caesars Arena Press Level

In addition to spending time with her dad and seeing family, she wanted to go to her families house  and get some of her valuable possessions as her dad moved into an assisted living facility. This made complete sense, plus we saw other family members.

As I thought things through, I added some conditions.

First, because her sister was unable to host us on this trip, I wanted to stay in a hotel on Lake Michigan. My brother-in-law Steve found the Doubletree Hilton in Racine, WI. 

Scott and George Eichorn
Little Caesars Arena Gordie Howe Statute

This was excellent as we were on the third floor and overlooked the lake. I figured while she was out doing her things, I could relax in a serene setting.

Second, I looked at the Detroit Red Wings schedule and they happened to host the Florida Panthers at Little Caesars Arena (LCA) on Friday, October 29, 2021 at 7 PM. I told her that I wanted to cover this game for the Detroit Monitor. 

Initially, I was hoping to also cover the Michigan vs Michigan State Game in East Lansing the following day, but due to demand, I was turned down. 

That would ultimately work out well as we traveled to Iowa on that day and we visited The Field of Dreams Movie Site instead taking this off the bucket list.

Third, if we were going to take this trip, she had to take Monday, November 1 off as a travel day. 

Foresight paid big dividends because we were on the road for 10 days and drove 4,543 miles and found ourselves traveling after midnight four times.

There is no doubt that I enjoy seeing the Red Wings anywhere around the country. I’ve seen them play in Phoenix, Tampa and South Florida. I have future plans covering them on the road as well as returning to Detroit.

Scott and George Eichorn
Little Caesars Arena Delvecchio Statute

But this trip to Detroit was like no other. 

On Thursday Night, we visited a Sports Exchange contributor in Cedarburg, WI which is north of Milwaukee. I needed Candy to help out on this drive because I had to be smart about my concussion issues and she did an outstanding job.

I told Candy that it would be a great idea if we found an inexpensive hotel in Metro Detroit so we wouldn’t be overly tired when it came to game time. It took us about six hours to get to Metro Detroit and we stayed at a Red Roof Inn in Belleville, MI for $75.00. 

It was a great move! 

I had loose ends in the area which included a trip to the cemetery to see family members.

At 5 PM, we picked up My colleague George Eichorn and went to the game. 

It was great to be back at LCA as we made one prior visit a few years ago. It’s an awesome arena and the Red Wings definitely got it right when it came to all the amenities, etc…

Florida Panthers Sergei Bobrovsky saving a goal

I saw one Panthers communications person and a member of the media during the pre-game meal. 

Then we went upstairs to the Press Box and got to work.

Eichorn and I had plenty of time to talk about the South Florida Tribune and other ventures we’re working on.

It was great to see old friends again such as Red Wings radio announcers Ken Kal and Paul Woods. Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News is another one of my favorite people. 

I also stopped by and saw Kyle Kujawa, who always makes sure I get the credentials I need when I cover the team and gave us a tour of LCA during our first visit.

Yes, there was a hockey game to cover and this was the right team to see as I have seen the Red Wings and Panthers play at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL many times. 

This arena is one of the finest venues I’ve ever worked in and I have seen a lot of great games between these two squads. There are no shortage of red and white jerseys when the Red Wings visit Sunrise.

Face off with Detroit’s Dylan Larkin and
Florida’s Aleksander Barkov

On this night, the Panthers were dealing with some adversity as their coach Joel Quenneville resigned the night before after he was among those implicated for not responding swiftly to allegations by former Chicago player Kyle Beach of being sexually assaulted by then Blackhawks assistant Brad Aldrich during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Andrew Brunette coached the Panthers in their trip to Detroit in what would turn out to be a very emotional night for the newly appointed interim coach.

As I’ve seen so many times in Sunrise, FL., this game would turn out to be a classic. 

Florida jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Red Wings stormed back and tied the game with 2:41 left in the third period.

The Panthers won the game 3-2 as Aleksander Barkov netted the game winner with 1:31 left in OT enabling Florida to improve to 8-0-0. The Red Wings dropped to 4-3-1.

Barkov scored two goals in the game but both goaltenders had outstanding performances. 

Detroit’s Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 30 shots of the 33 he faced, and the Panthers put pressure on him all night but he kept the Red Wings in the contest. He was named the No.1 Star.

Florida Panthers Sergei Bobrovsky saving a goal

Sergei Bobrovsky was named the second star as he faced 30 shots and stopped 28 of them.

Barkov, the heart and soul of the franchise was awarded the third star as a result of a two goal night.

All in all, it was a tremendous visit back to Hockey Town. 

When the game was over, Eichorn and I took a few great photos as we departed LCA. 

We drove him back home to Warren, MI then traveled back to Racine, WI, where we would arrive at our hotel at 4 AM local time.

By 11:30 AM, we checked out of our room, went to a local sports bar to watch the Michigan vs Michigan State game the departed for Iowa.

Detroit Red Wing Alex Nedeljkovic saves a goal with the glove

You can rest assure that after seeing the Red Wings face the Panthers in Sunrise, I have to admit that seeing these two teams play in my hometown was a lot more fun because of all the familiar faces when I was a regular in this media market. 

You can rest assure, there will be more Red Wings vs Panthers games in Detroit in the future but with less commuting from Wisconsin to Michigan via I-94. 

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

You can subscribe to his broadcasts on the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel for free.

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