Detroit welcomes home Stanley Cup champs
Red Wings fans line parade route early to 'soak in excitement of day'
With the Stanley Cup back in Hockeytown, thousands of red-and-white-clad Red Wings fans jammed downtown in muggy heat Friday for a parade celebrating the city's third major sports championship in six years.
Spectators jammed Woodward Avenue for the parade that was to end with a rally at Hart Plaza on the city's riverfront. The Red Wings are following the path of the 2002 hockey team and the 2004 Pistons, who celebrated their triumphs with similar downtown processions. The Red Wings clinched the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.
Under sunny skies and with temperatures in the 80s, the parade featuring Red Wings players, coaches and staff began before noon at the Hockeytown Cafe.
"It's just fantastic. It just shows the unbelievable support that we get as hockey players here, and that's why they call it Hockeytown," forward Kris Draper told the NBC affiliate.
Some fans wore plush octopi on their heads, a nod to the team's mascot. One woman brought a real — albeit dead — octopus with her and swung it over her head, à la Joe Louis Arena building manager Al Sobotka.
Detroit goalie Chris Osgood became Red Wings fans' knight in shining armour — literally. Ernie Schutt saw a steel suit of armour in a friend's garage and inspiration struck.
"I saw it, man, that would be cool with Ozzie on it," Schutt said.
He washed it, and added an Osgood jersey, baseball glove and a couple of stuffed octopi to complete the look. He dragged it along the parade route by placing the torso and head in a red wagon, but left the legs home.
Hockey win a distraction from Motor City woes
For Corinne Gordon, the parade was bridge-building. The Red Wings' six-game series win over the Penguins gave fans the chance to temporarily put aside the economic doldrums and the mayoral saga that have dominated the news for months.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former top aide, Christine Beatty, face criminal charges, including perjury, stemming from testimony during a whistleblowers' trial in which the pair denied having a romantic relationship. Kilpatrick and Beatty also are accused of lying under oath about their roles in the firing of a top police official.
"There's been so much doom and gloom, and separation between the city and suburbs because of what the mayor has done," Gordon said.
"This brings people together."
Draper said the players celebrated heartily on Thursday night and shared the Cup with fans as well as close friends and supporters.
"That's what makes this trophy so great," he said. "You're able to bring it and give a little back for all the support we had, the great fans."