Wings Celebrate With A Parade In Detroit

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DETROIT (AP) -- Most of the Red Wings players who spoke during a Stanley Cup victory rally along the Detroit River Friday were fairly reserved.
Most thanked the fans or showed off the Cup.
Jiri Hudler was a bit more animated.
Given the chance to address the crowd of thousands gathered along a riverfront plaza, Hudler, clapping in rhythm, led a chant of "Let's go Red Wings!" then raced over toward fellow Wings forward Kris Draper, jumping in Draper's arms.
This was a time to celebrate.
For the third time this century, Detroit sports fans converged on the city's center to welcome a major sports championship.
Thousands of red-and-white-clad Wing nuts jammed Woodward Avenue on Friday for the chance to see members of the team that brought the Cup back to Hockeytown. It ended with the rally at Hart Plaza.
These Red Wings are following in the footsteps of the 2002 team and the 2004 Pistons, who celebrated their triumphs with similar downtown processions. The Red Wings clinched the Cup on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.
Brian Rafalski was a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the New Jersey Devils before joining his hometown Red Wings and winning the NHL title two days ago.
While all three championships were special, the victory celebrations don't compare, the defenseman from Dearborn said.
Rafalski was asked if Friday's parade was like the 2000 and 2003 Cup celebrations in New Jersey that were held on the sprawling blacktop outside the team's former arena.
"It's way better than a parking lot," he joked.
Henrik Zetterberg hoisted the Conn Smythe Trophy he won as playoff MVP above his head as he rode down the parade route. He said he was happy to share the Cup win with fans.
"Time of my life right now," Zetterberg said. "This is unbelievable."
Goalie Chris Osgood said he hadn't been that emotional about the Cup win until the parade.
"It brings a tear to my eye right now. I've had to wipe away a few tears," Osgood said. "This is why I play in Detroit."
Forward Dan Cleary, the first man from Newfoundland to win the Cup, said the accomplishment is a high honor for him and his Canadian homeland.
"I think everybody back in Newfoundland is proud," he said. "I'm proud. I can't wait to bring the Cup home."
The last vehicle in the parade carried captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who proudly held the Cup aloft to the delight of the crowd.
The weather cooperated with sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s when the parade featuring Red Wings players, coaches and staff kicked off before noon at the Hockeytown CafDe.
Many of the parade-goers, despite the stifling heat, wore Wings jerseys and other red-and-white gear. Some wore plush octopi on their heads, a nod to the team's mascot.
One woman even brought a real -- albeit dead -- octopus with her and swung it over her head, ala Joe Louis Arena building manager Al Sobotka.
And Osgood became Red Wings fans' knight in shining armor -- literally.
New Baltimore resident Ernie Schutt spied an Italian steel suit of armor in a friend's garage and inspiration struck.
"I saw it, man, that would be cool with Ozzie on it," said Schutt, 51.
He washed it, 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 at home.
"I had people in front of my house taking pictures of it with their kids," he said.
Blake Gordon had planned on attending his final day of the fourth grade in Oakland County's Commerce Township, but was surprised when his mother allowed him and his brothers to attend the Red Wings celebration.
"This is excellent, exciting and wonderful to see the Red Wings bring the Cup to our town," the 10-year-old said.
For his mother, Corinne Gordon, the parade was bridge-building.
"There's been so much doom and gloom and separation between the city and suburbs because of what the mayor has done," said Gordon, 37. "This brings people together."
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former top aide, Christine Beatty, face criminal charges, including perjury, stemming from testimony during a whistle-blowers' 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.
Kilpatrick refused to discuss the text-messaging scandal on Friday, but did say the success of the Red Wings has helped to pull not just Detroit, but the region together. He said sports fans who came downtown for the parade and rally can see what's been done to help revitalize Detroit.
"This is so much different from 2002," Kilpatrick said. "You're walking through a brand new Woodward. Detroiters should be absolutely proud of what we've been able to pull together and to do together."
The Wings' six-game series win over the Penguins gave area residents the chance to forget, at least for a short time, the economic doldrums and the mayoral saga that have dominated the news for months.
"This city is going to come back, and we're all going to come back and be proud of this city one day," Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch told the crowd.
The good times should keep rolling for the storied franchise for years to come.
The team set a record with 30 wins in the first half of the season, matching Montreal's record with 100 points for the eighth straight year, and extended the longest active streak in sports with its 17th straight postseason appearance.
Detroit's key players are under contract for at least next season, leaving only a handful of decisions to make in the offseason.
Kilpatrick, speaking at the rally, summed up the day: "The beer is on me!"

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