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Sports Leafs-Wings Centennial Classic alumni clash physical and fun

01:20  01 january  2017
01:20  01 january  2017 Source:   thestar.com

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Gary Roberts and Kris Draper proved hockey alumni games aren’t always a waltz on the ice between good ol’ boys. When Roberts and Draper began slashing each other after a check in the corner during Saturday’s Centennial Classic legends tilt, on the eve of the Leafs - Wings main event at BMO Field

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Gary Roberts and Kris Draper proved hockey alumni games aren’t always a waltz on the ice between good ol’ boys.

When Roberts and Draper began slashing each other after a check in the corner during Saturday’s Centennial Classic legends tilt, on the eve of the Leafs-Wings main event at BMO Field, the usually friendly tone turned decidedly nasty.

“It wasn’t fake, I can tell you that,” a smiling Draper said after his Detroit Red Wings alumni team — including Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, who finished with a goal and an assist — beat Roberts and the Maple Leafs side, 4-3.

“I don’t know who hit (Draper’s linemate Dino Ciccarelli) but Gary came in and hit me. There was an exchange and all that . . . but that’s who we are. That’s what we do. You have that competitiveness, and we don’t get that enough when you walk away from the game.”

3 ways to enliven the Red Wings-Maple Leafs rivalry

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It was one of several highlights in what was anything but a mundane affair that was decided on another controversial note: Draper’s game-winning goal came off a rebound from a slapshot, even though there was a gentlemen’s agreement that there would be no slappers.

All that plus a turn-back-the-clock save by 62-year-old former Leafs goalie Mike Palmateer showed there was more at stake here than exchanging stories and beers after the final whistle.

Roberts was clearly incensed after the initial exchange. The former Leaf took Draper into the boards after Ciccarelli went in first, making contact with a Leafs defender. One thing led to another and the slashing quickly escalated. A BMO Field crowd announced at 28,710 loved it, and social media lit up with reaction.

Matthews calls Centennial Classic one of his 'best moments in hockey'

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On Thursday, the Toronto Maple Leafs revealed details regarding the team's Centennial Anniversary, including some information regarding the NHL Centennial Classic matchup against the Detroit Red Wings on Jan.

Roberts was so incensed that he declined comment to the in-game broadcast crew, saying something to the effect that “you don’t want to talk to me right now.”

Shanahan wasn’t surprised by the show of emotion: “Two real competitive guys. At the end of the day, we all have fun we didn’t get to (have since retiring). We don’t get to do this anymore, so when we do part of it is getting nicked up.”

On his goal, Shanahan took a nifty, up-the-middle feed from Paul Coffey, then dished off to Mickey Redmond before a return pass and one-time over the glove of goalie Curtis Joseph.

“Scoring a goal in the NHL or the alumni game, it’s still fun,” Shanahan said. “I skated with Cujo twice this week and we were laughing about what it might be like out on the ice today. We had a laugh about it afterwards.”

Shanahan was wearing two hats — Wings alumni player and Leafs boss — and was praised for arranging it so that each current Leaf got to sit next to an alumni member in the dressing room at BMO Field.

Matthews scores OT winner as Leafs capture Centennial Classic

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Goalie Mike Palmateer, 62, robs former Red Wing Tomas Holmstrom on a penalty shot in Saturday's Centennial Classic alumni game at BMO Field.: Goalie Mike Palmateer, 62, robs former Red Wing Tomas Holmstrom on a penalty shot. © Steve Russell Goalie Mike Palmateer, 62, robs former Red Wing Tomas Holmstrom on a penalty shot.

“I consider myself the luckiest guy on the ice today,” Shanahan said. “With my Red Wings teammates in the locker room, and going over to see the Leafs before the game, seeing our players and making sure they were taken care of, it felt like on the ice that I had two sets of teammates. It’s a great weekend for me.”

Shanahan, who worked out several times a week in preparation for the game, felt Palmateer’s save was the play of the game.

“If we were giving a car away for player of the game, I’d give it to Palmy. And that exit . . . I loved it,” Shanahan said of Palmateer, who left the game immediately after the save, with about three minutes left in the first period.

Wendel Clark also left the game, but for a much different reason.

“Popped a hamstring … I never knew I had one,” Clark said, laughing.

From Tie to Max Domi: NHL enforcers dwindle in 1 generation .
Tie Domi is no different than any proud hockey father when it comes to worrying about his son. Having spent 16 seasons establishing a reputation for being one of the NHL’s fiercest enforcers, Domi fully appreciates the importance of protecting a team’s marquee players.

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