BLOOMFIELD TWP., Mich. - The risk of starting the NHL season late still hangs in the balance, but it didn't ruin the spirits for the majority of the Red Wings on the golf course Monday.
Members of the team played in the 5th annual Ilitch Charities Golf Outing at Oakland Hills, raising money for various nonprofits around metro-Detroit.
"It's always fun to be a part of this event, give back a little bit, and make some good friends," Henrik Zetterberg said.
The forward was joined in Bloomfield Township by a bevy of teammates including Tomas Holmstrom, Cory Emmerton, Drew Miller, Justin Abdelkader, and Jakub Kindl.
With negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA at a standstill, Zetterberg shed light on the state of the discussions.
"We're not real close. We're still working on it to find a fair deal. There's still time, hopefully we can get together in the next couple weeks and figure it out."
The league is only eight years removed from the infamous lockout that eventually cancelled the 2004-05 season. Zetterberg says this time around, the situation is different.
Drew Miller, who grew up in a hockey family, said the game has never been at a higher point of popularity, and doesn't want to see that trend stop.
"I hope we're playin. The game is growing. Hopefully we can play from the start. If not, I hope it's not too long of a lockout," he said.
Longtime Red Wings forward Kris Draper hung up the skates before last season, but plans to lace them back up for the Alumni Game at the Winter Classic. The lockout would jeopardize what he's calling a homecoming weekend.
"I know all the guys invited are looking forward to it. It's gonna be so much fun to get back on the ice with those guys. We had so much success and created so many memories, it's gonna be memorable," Draper said.
He said he expected to be in better touch with former teammates like Sergei Fedorov and Igor Larionov, but over time, life takes over. Family, new jobs, and relocation stands in the way, but Draper said the Winter Classic will provide a chance he'd never thought could be possible.
"Realistically, when you retire, you think, will you ever get a chance to play with all those guys again? Some of those guys, I haven't seen in years. It's gonna be fun."
The Winter Classic is scheduled for January 1, 2013 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, with the week-long Winter Festival set for Comerica Park leading up to the NHL game.
Larionov, who is now an player agent, recently told the Calgary Herald he doesn't expect the lockout to reach further than that week, citing the payout the NHL and NBC Sports receive from the events.
Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter for WXYZ. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli .
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