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The rodent scurried aback to his hole, and as fable has it, his hasty retreat meant six added weeks of winter, but to the affable association of Marquette, on the southern shores of Lake Superior that wasn’t abundant of a blackmail aback Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has consistently been acclimatized to acrid winters.
What Yoopers weren’t acclimated to seeing in 1954 were the acclaimed faces that they alone apprehend about in newspapers or heard on radio. But this Groundhog Day – admitting meteorically like any added biting Marquette day: 22 degrees, clouded and windless – was absolutely altered aback the Detroit Red Wings came to town.
There was annihilation ‘usual’ about the Wings’ visit. They were arrive by a administrator to comedy an alfresco bold – the aboriginal in authorization history – central the razor wire-topped bean walls and armed watchtowers of the state’s best belled maximum-security prison.
Clearly, the bold 58 years ago had a far altered ambient again the aftermost time the Wings played outdoors in the 2009 Winter Classic at Chicago’s Wrigley Field or will aback the Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs comedy at Michigan Stadium on New Year’s Day.
“I was never apropos because I ample that I could booty affliction of myself,” said Wings fable Ted Lindsay, of arena adjoin murderers, arsonists, coffer robbers and altered added degenerates. “But I acquainted actual acerb from accepting been abutting to them in the summertime and assortment with them that there was no acumen to be worried.”
Months earlier, Lindsay and accepted administrator Jack Adams visited Marquette Branch Bastille during a promotional barnstorming cruise through the U.P., which was sponsored by Stroh’s Brewery. The two men put on abbreviate presentation in the prison’s auditorium, again answered some questions from the prisoners.
“It was a Stroh’s promotion. They paid us admitting it wasn’t much,” Lindsay recalled. “We did it mostly in the Lower Peninsula, apparently three or four teams of twosomes went to altered lunches, breakfasts and dinners to clubs and all.”
In the aftermost two weeks of June, Lindsay and Adams went to the U.P., starting in St. Ignace and on the Soo and Marquette area they concluded up at the prison. Lindsay remembers it not actuality as bad central as it had been fabricated out to be. But he still inquired with the guards about claimed safety. “Oh no, if anybody anticipation of accomplishing annihilation they would be asleep afore he took two steps,” Lindsay was told.
But arena maximum-security prisoners, who were bound up for 23 hours a day, would be an altogether altered accident for the Red Wings. And that’s area Lindsay believes the Wings’ GM was somehow agape by the warden.
“Our summer appointment went able-bodied and again the administrator bent Jack Adams by abruptness aback he said, ‘Jack, would you accompany your aggregation up actuality and comedy in the bastille yard?” Lindsay said. “Jack about swallowed his argot not alive what the heck to say. But afterwards accomplishing some visiting and talking aback and alternating – apparently giving Jack some time to anticipate – he told the warden, ‘I’ll acquaint you what, I’ll accompany my aggregation up if you can pay for the plane, pay for the auberge rooms, pay for the commons and I’ll accompany my aggregation up.’ ”
Marquette’s bedfellow citizenry comprised the affliction of the worst, and their hockey abilities weren’t abundant better, so some approved to body up the bold by emphasizing the convicts’ crimes and the achievability of a absolute affray aback the Marquette Bastille Pirates calendar adjoin the Wings.
But Lindsay wasn’t the atomic bit anxious about a bastille backyard fracas, saying, “I was beheld as a hero because I was arch the alliance in penalties, so I fit appropriate in with the boys.”
The arena altitude in Marquette that day were perfect, bidding Gordie Howe to say that the ice was “the best he had anytime played on.”
Lindsay agreed, saying, “Anytime you get attributes accomplishing the freezing you’ve got the best ice possible.”
But addition had to body the amphitheatre of dreams, and that was Oakie Brumm. The prison’s administrator of concrete action and a above University of Michigan hockey player, Brumm was tasked with creating a amphitheatre in the bastille backyard after the convicts application the abstracts as accoutrement for escaping.
Brumm would after address about his adventures in the bastille in a book advantaged “We Alone Played Home Games” area he anecdotal his memories, including the alone time an NHL club played central a penitentiary. “The inmates and I saw all of this as a approaching hockey rink,” wrote Brumm, who died in 2006. “Most of the careful agents advised this austere escape equipment, at atomic until it was nailed down.”
The bold on bastille ice was the greatest adventure best of the inmates and agents had anytime experienced. Wings drillmaster Tommy Ivan put his aggregation through a alternation of big alliance drills and abilities competitions, and again the Wings defeated the Pirates deeply by announcement some of the admirable stick assignment that fabricated them alliance champions for seven after seasons.
“They were added analytical because they had heard us on the radio and apparent us on the television,” said Lindsay, of the inmates. “Now they were attractive at the absolute person.”
To accomplish things interesting, the Wings swapped a few players, trading goalie Terry Sawchuk, amid others, and exchanged one set of defensemen, said Lindsay, who skated on the adverse addition as Howe with an bedfellow as their centerman.
Howe again skated the additional bisected of the bold with the prison’s abrasion a No. 16 Pirates’ jersey.
After 10 minutes, the Wings had a 10-0 advantage, and by the end of the aboriginal aeon they had an 18-0 lead. It could calmly accept been 50-0.
“The alone time I affected the puck,” bemoaned Brumm, who installed himself on defense, “was aback I pulled it out of the aback of the net.”
The Red Wings ran abroad with the bold and the administrator presented Adams with a honey brazier as a makeshift trophy. Lindsay doesn’t bethink the final score, which he calls insignificant.
“It was an acquaintance that I thoroughly enjoyed. I would say that they were all absolute gentlemen,” Lindsay said. “The affections that you accept at the time are what you should be able to feel. The affections of what you acquainted with them and the affections that you acquainted for them and how you acquainted actuality on the ice with them. All of that being you forget.”
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