Detroit Red Wings’ Nicklas Lidström, Tomas Holmström team up again to fight addiction

Detroit Free Press

Nicklas Lidström heard from Tomas Hölmstrom soon after the two signed on to be roasted — and toasted — for a great cause.

Those who remember the two Detroit Red Wings greats in their playing days, when they were part of four Stanley Cup championships from 1997-2008, know Lidström’s status as “The Perfect Human” lends itself to the toasting part, and Holmström’s sense of humor lends itself to roasting. But when asked if anyone ever had roasted Lidström, he laughed.

“I know Homer is going to do it, for sure,” Lidström said. “He told me, you’re not getting away from this one.

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The event this Saturday at Motor City Casino is for a sobering cause, benefitting the Jamie Daniels Foundation’s mission to raise awareness and funds for those struggling with substance use disorder. The foundation arose out of a tragedy; it was established by Wings TV voice Ken Daniels and his ex-wife, Lisa Goldman, in memory of their son, Jamie, who was just 23 years old when he died in December 2016 from an overdose while undergoing treatment for addiction.

“We all know the tragedy that Ken and Lisa went through with their son, with Jamie,” Lidström said. “It can happen to anybody. It doesn’t matter where you are from, the color of your skin or your social or economic background. It can happen to anyone. I think this is a great way to raise awareness and do something like this.”

Previous roasts have featured Scotty Bowman, Mickey Redmond and Brett Hull. It was last November, when the Wings hosted a 25th-anniversary celebration of the 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup teams, that the idea for a roast and a toast took shape.

“I looked into the room, and there’s Holmström and Lidström, sitting on a couch,” Daniels said. “I asked them the question, and Homer immediately said sure. And Nick said, ‘A roast?’ And I said, ‘Well, actually there’s nothing to roast you about — we’re roasting him and toasting you.’ And he said OK. That’s how it came about. They’re just wonderful to do it.”

Once those two were locked down, the event began to take shape. Delta Airlines hopped on board, flying Holmström and Lidström from their native Sweden to Detroit (and contributing hot-ticket items to the silent auction). Trinity Health came on board as the presenting sponsor, and “without even asking, Mrs. Ilitch, through the Michael and Marian Ilitch Foundation, they became our dinner sponsor,” Daniels said. “People want to help. You do get tired of asking, but that is what we have to do.”

Bringing attention to substance use order has become a passion project for Daniels. The reward is seeing the impact these events have in fundraising for the foundation’s projects.

“We support nine Michigan colleges now,” Daniels said. “The letters that we get from kids who are part of the program that we offer just thanking us and saying they couldn’t have gotten through it without us — and we have the Jamie Daniels Memorial Scholarship at Michigan State – that’s what really warms your heart. You know we are making a difference.

“That’s why we’ve granted close to a half million dollars to the nine Michigan colleges. And we’ve made a financial commitment for $500,000 to the adolescent addiction recovery center at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Troy. You know you are saving lives when you hear the stories.”

The foundation also seeks to reduce the stigma attached to substance use disorder.

“We always say that the more we talk about it, the better,” Daniels said. “It’s the stigma of addiction that can preclude recovery. That’s the problem. But we know we are making a difference.

“Everyone handles grief differently. I guess for our family, our way of handling our grief, and thank goodness, we have the platform. Being the TV voice of the Red Wings and having Bally Sports and the Detroit Red Wings behind us, that is huge, because we have the ability to get the word out.”

Speakers include Mike “Doc” Emrick, Kris Draper and Steve Ott. Mark Howe, Jon Cooper and Henrik Sedin are among those making appearances via video.

And then, of course, there are the two principals.

“I’m sure I’ll speak a little bit, I’ll touch on some of the things we’ve been through,” Lidström said. “I’ve been roasted by Homer many times in the car.”

Their time with the Wings marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

“We didn’t know each other when he joined the Wings,” Lidström said. “He was part of the World Cup for the national team before he came to the Wings in ’96, and that was the first time I met him. We just hit it off. Our wives are really good friends and our kids are similar ages. We just hit it off when he joined the team.

“We carpooled a lot. It was a lot of fun. Not only hockey talk, but some serious talks as well. But you know what Homer is like — it was a lot of joking around. That’s why I’m looking forward to this event — I think it will be really fun to be a part of, and it’s for a great cause.”

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

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Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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