By Nick Barnowski -
Although he returned to his home country of Russia in 2009 to continue playing, Sergei Fedorov still calls Detroit home.
The former Red Wings superstar returned to Detroit and donned the Winged Wheel for the first time in nearly 10 years as he participated in the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park on Dec. 31.
Fedorov was unsure of the reaction he’d receive from the Detroit crowd as he had been booed so many times after he left the Wings following the 2002-03 season, but when he stepped out of the home dugout, he was happy that a large majority of the 33,425 in attendance cheered him on.
“I really appreciated it because I always call Detroit home,” Fedorov said. “I spent my best years, everybody know what I did here. I was really pleased that the fans cheered me on and it was like the old days. It was great.”
The 44-year-old, who committed to playing in the game back in October, flew into Detroit from Switzerland the day before because he was playing in the Spengler Cup with his KHL team, CSKA Moscow. He is also the club’s general manager.
Despite still playing professionally, Fedorov said that it was “an incredible feeling” to be reunited with some of his teammates from his 13 seasons in Detroit.
“It’s great,” he said. “A lot of emotions, I think I’ve got to sit on it a week or two just to remember everything about it. It reminds you of a lot of emotions because we played together so many games, so many hard ways we won together.”
Fedorov was part of the legendary “Russian 5” that was able to reunite one last time during the game. Fedorov and former teammates Slava Fetisov, Igor Larionov, Slava Kozlov, and Vladimir Konstantinov were announced over the public address as Detroit’s starting lineup, and in a dramatic moment, Konstantinov was brought out on the ice surface in a walker and wearing an alumni jersey.
The group huddled around Konstantinov – who grabbed a stick and pretended to stickhandle – for a picture before the puck dropped.
“I wish Vladdie was feeling a little bit better and skate with us but he’s got a ways to go,” Fedorov said. “I enjoyed the moment when he came out on the ice and grabbed a stick and started swinging. He was happy – I haven’t seen him that happy in a while, so I was proud of that moment and to be part of it was an unbelievable experience.”
Fedorov, who scored 400 of his 483 goals as Red Wing, played his first competitive game as a player since 2011-12 on Dec. 27 in the Spengler Cup, which halted him from arriving in Detroit earlier. Despite the heavy travel, he said he would go through it all over again.
“Emotions are positive. Yeah, it’s a few miles on the plane but for this kind of scenery and for meeting your old teammates, I would do it tomorrow again.”
He said that he and he former teammates meet up in the summertime on occasion, but this was a whole different experience.
“To me, it was a little bit surreal,” he said. “It was great.”