ANN ARBOR – Luke Glendening may be a rookie in the NHL, but he’s a veteran of the outdoor hockey games.
Glendening will play in his fifth outdoor game Wednesday at Michigan Stadium when the Wings host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic.
He got the news Monday night while driving home with his mom from Comerica Park after he took part in the Grand Rapids Griffins’ game against the Toronto Marlies.
“I was planning on watching this one on TV, excited to see how it turned out,” said Glendening, who played four seasons at the University of Michigan. “Now that I have the opportunity to be a part of it, I’m excited.”
He played in three outdoor games while at Michigan, including the Big Chill at Michigan Stadium on Dec. 11, 2010.
“It was great to be back on the ice, to be back in Ann Arbor is fun for me,” Glendening said. “It’s a little overwhelming, but I’m just trying to take it all in and enjoy it.”
Glendening scored two goals in the Griffins’ shootout loss to the Marlies.
“I had a great time playing in the game with Grand Rapids,” Glendening said. “That was a special moment, special game, but obviously it was a little disheartening not to be able to play in this one, and now that I have the opportunity it’s pretty cool.”
He’s 2-1-1 in his previous four outdoor games.
Glendening was needed when Wings coach Mike Babcock decided to rejoin Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the same line.
“The reason Glenny went back and didn’t play the other night was I wanted Glenny to get in a Winter Classic game,” Babcock said. “They had a Winter Classic game in the American League, and I thought I wasn’t sure he was going to be able to play in this game for us. I thought it was unfair if he didn’t play, and I was planning on playing Z and Pavel. I needed another center. It’s unfortunate for Jurco, now he misses playing outdoors, which wasn’t our plan at all, but that is the way it happens. That is the change in day-to-day and business in our league.”