DETROIT – Wings defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo is on his third NHL team.
Tonight he gets to open the season against the team, St. Louis, he left to come to Detroit.
“It’s going to be pretty emotional, the adrenaline’s going to be rushing pretty good,” Colaiacovo said. “I had great years there and have a lot of great memories. That city is hockey hungry right now. They tend to get some good crowds. It’s a fun place to play.”
Colaiacovo played four seasons with the Blues after being traded there by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“When I was there we always wanted to model ourselves after the way the Red Wings played,” Colaiacovo said of his time in St. Louis. “We were great division rivals from the time I got there. They were heated battles. Every game was a tough game to play. We always wanted to play our A game against the Wings.”
The Blue made the playoffs in Colaiacovo’s first year there and then again last season, winning the Central Division in the process a year ago.
“They’ve come a long way since I’ve been there,” Colaiacovo said. “They’re very close to being a team that got there last year. I feel they’ve still got a pretty good team this year, but I feel the same way about our team.”
The Wings, who lost Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) Brad Stuart (trade) this offseason, signed Colaiacovo late in the free agency period, to a two-year deal with $2.5 million a season.
Colaiacovo was not the top-tier defenseman the Wings were looking for this offseason, but he was the best option left on the free-agent market.
“I’ve always seen pictures of this room, but to finally be in it, this is one of my favorite arenas to play in even as a visiting player,” Colaiacovo said of Joe Louis Arena. “To actually be in the room and be part of the team, I feel pretty special about that. I’m excited. I’ve had nothing but a smile on my face since I’ve been here. I just hope for better days ahead.”
Colaiacovo visited the locker room a few days to kind of get the lay of the land.
“Once you walk in the room and you see all the great names on the wall, the Stanley Cups on the wall, it makes you feel that we’re here to win a Stanley Cup,” he said. “I had my first taste of a winning season last year. I’ve been in the league for a long time and to have that feeling is something that every player wants.”
The biggest concern is his health. He has yet to play more than 67 games in any season.
And he starts camp with a shoulder injury he suffered in the championship game of the Spangler Cup.
Coincidently, it was another new Red Wing, Damien Brunner, who caused the injury.
For Colaiacovo, who turns 30 on Jan. 27, this is his second Original Six team.
“Toronto was a little bit different for me, because I was a young kid who grew up a Leafs fan,” said Colaiacovo, who was born in Toronto. “I was living the dream. You never think of that scenario when you’re growing up in Ontario playing hockey. You always dream of it, but to have it actually come true. I was a young kid in a room full of celebrities that I’d watched on TV my whole life. It took me a while to get used to it. For me, it was like being a no body and turning into a celebrity overnight. It was a life-changing experience and I’m very grateful for it. Things there could have been a little different over the years. Obviously, I went through a lot. But I have no regrets. I’ve got nothing bad to say about my time there. I loved it there. I have some great memories. I think at the time that I moved on, it was a blessing in disguise, because it made me start fresh and put me in a position to get to where I am today.”
Colaiacovo, who shoots left and can play the point on the power play, will start being paired with former teammate Ian White on the blue line.