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Doing his best rendition of Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train,” Red Wings left wing, Justin Abdelkader is a train on ice, best known for his ability to demolish opponents foolish enough to be caught in his tracks.
“Right from the get go,” Abdelkader told Sportz Detroit Magazine as to when he started demolishing his opposition.
“As soon as they allowed us to start hitting I played physical to get under people’s skin,” Abdelkader said.
Nothing pumps up no. 8 for a big game more than the fire-breathing, blood-spitting, metal band, Kiss.
“I like Detroit Rock City, it always gets me fired up especially in the playoffs,” Abdelkader said.
Abdelkader was brought up to the Red Wings as a replacement for Tomáš Kopecký, who sat out Game 5 of the 2009 Western Conference semi-finals series against the Anaheim Ducks.
Coach Mike Babcock sent Abdelkader to replace Kopecký because of his ability to flatten the enemy. In a town known for its hard hat work ethic, Abdelkader quickly became a fan favorite.
“Work hard. Do what you can each shift. He was always on me when I had a bad game,” Abdelkader said of the best advice his father Joseph gave him.
“He pushed me to work harder. If I was floating on ice, not moving my legs, I’d hear about it. It’s about working on both ends of the ice, being physical and controlling what I can control,” the enforcer said.
The Muskegon native has always had a flare for the dramatic, scoring his first goal versus the Penguins in Game 1 of the 2009 Stanley Cup.
“A lot of things went through my head, but I had just lost a good friend from Michigan State, Brandon Gordon, in January… I felt like he was there and helped me score the goal,” Abdelkader said fighting tears.
“A lot went through my head but he was one in particular. He had cancer to the bone… it was a real tough deal there.”
Brandon Lee Gordon took his last breath, February 22nd, 2009, succumbing to osteosarcoma after a courageous, two-year-battle with the cancer.
Despite countless tumors throughout his body and extreme difficulty breathing, Brandon continued to fight. “Brandon’s Defense” has been erected in his honor to continue his fight for the awareness of children’s cancer.
If you would like to support “Brandon’s Defense,” contact his mother, Julie Gordon, at email@example.com.
Kevin Alan Lamb grew up on a pond but rarely played hockey because it was difficult to find skates that fit the 6-foot-7 Willow Farm native. The Lamb family home served as the neighborhood sandlot, hosting everything from pickle and kickball, to night-tag and baseball.