Torey Krug wasn’t going to shy away from his favorite team growing up as a hockey-loving kid in Michigan.
The Livonia, Michigan native was a diehard Red Wings fan as a kid, who grew up idolizing Steve Yzerman and Niklas Lidstrom on the Stanley Cup-winning teams of his youth. So it’s clearly more than a little bit special to suit up against the Wings as he will on Saturday night in a new Atlantic Division rivalry borne out of the NHL realignment for this season. But the 22-year-old also got to play the Red Wings in Detroit during the preseason in a game that was pretty special to the youngster, so some of the novelty has died down.
Krug also skates with some of the Wings players in the summertime when he heads back to Michigan, so that peels away some of the Winged Wheels mystique as well.
“The first time we played the Wings in preseason I got some of those jitters out, so now I’m just used to it,” said Krug, who finished a plus-1 in Thursday’s win over the Lightning. “They have a lot of guys that stick around in the summer too. [Daniel] Clearly is always there, and there are other guys as well.
“Steve Yzerman is always the first guy that comes to mind for me for his leadership, and what we did for [the Wings]. Him, Lidstrom and Datsyuk are all guys I watched growing up, and I just try to take pieces of their game and adapt it to mine.”
That being said, the Wings still boast Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and plenty of the Detroit players that have kept the longstanding tradition of Hockey Town going in Michigan’s capital city. It helped Krug develop a deeper love for hockey that pushed him to the captaincy of the Michigan State hockey team before eventually signing as an undrafted free agent with the Bruins.
“Either way I’d probably still be involved in the game [of hockey], but the Wings made it more exciting growing up,” said Krug. “I remember when they won the Cup in 1997, and everybody was outside in our neighborhood cheering. That excitement level was pretty unique.
“I’m not sure many other towns can match that [in the US] aside from Boston and maybe Chicago now. It was definitely pretty special.”