When men were men, and hockey was war
As I was sitting in that hospital bed, I promised myself two things:
- I wasn’t going to let the hit affect me mentally.
- It wasn’t to change the way I played.
You have to understand what hockey means to me. It was always my joy in life. I was a small guy to start with, and I made it to the NHL by playing a certain way. If I took my foot off the gas even just a little bit … if I was even just a little bit timid because of that hit, I wouldn’t be effective. I’d be letting my teammates down. I’d be letting the city down. The people of Detroit were in my corner every single day of my recovery. I mean, the response from fans was so overwhelming that I had to get two hospital rooms: One for me, and one to store all the flowers, cards, and stuffed animals that people sent to me. There was so much that I couldn’t take it all home. I donated all the stuffed animals to the pediatric ward.
Detroit is such a blue-collar town, and they love their Red Wings so much.
We had to get back to the Western Conference finals. We had to beat Colorado. We had to win a Stanley Cup.
I would close my eyes and picture the weight room and think, Soon.