Lemieux Back Where They Love To Hate Him

Tonight's Sharks game against the Red Wings is already gut-check enough, with the two teams at the top of the Western Conference standings and the underdog detremined to defend their home turf.

But also factor in that this game is in Detroit, where Sharks forward Claude Lemieux is kind considered the antichrist.

If you want a sense of Detroit's deep hatred of Lemieux, check his Wikipedia page. It has clearly been hacked and altered with countless falsehoods and slanderous juvenile profanities by still-enraged Detroit fans.

Here in Shark waters, we just consider Lemiuex to be a nice, feel-good comeback story. Lemieux was retired for nearly six years, then fought (ha ha!) his way back up through the minor leagues as the second-oldest player in hockey.

But in Detroit, he's widely viewed as a cheat and an agitator for his vicious streak of brawling with the New Jersey Devils in a 1995 Stanley Cup sweep of the Red Wings. Lemieux has had "wanted" posters of him printed in Detroit newspapers. He estimates that 20,000 Red Wings fans once came to a game, all in matching "F*** Lemieux" t-shirts. One of the Red Wings has challenged Lemieux to a fistfight in the parking lot of a Detroit hamburger joint after the game.

Lemiuex told the Flint Journal what kind of treatment he expects from Detroit fans. "Probably no different than what it used to be. I don't expect to become a fan favorite in Detroit." Lemieux might, however, sell a lot of t-shirts.

 Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who dares you to wear a Lemieux jersey to a Red Wings game.

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