Red Wings Lalonde a Member of Bills Mafia

Among the capacity crowd filling Ford Field for Thursday’s Thanksgiving game will be Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde. It’s the first time he’s led the Red Wings to a losing effort in Detroit.

“It’s very difficult,” Lalonde said, doing his best to be diplomatic. “It’s my favorite AFC team against my favorite NFC team.

“I’ve always liked lions with blue powder.”

Make no mistake though. Lalonde’s loyalty does not go with the Honolulu Blue and Silver. He is a card-carrying member of the Bills Mafia. Had one for decades.

He has seen his gridiron heroes twice this season alone. Lalonde was able to attend the Bills-Green Bay Packers Sunday Night Football game before the Red Wings played the Sabers in Buffalo.

He was also there last week when the NFL moved the Bills vs. Cleveland Browns game to Ford Field due to a heavy snowstorm.

“It was amazing,” Lalonde said. “I was able to bring in the staff and we had fun with it. It was a fun day.”

Lalonde Long Time Bills Backer

Hailing from Brasher Falls, New York, Lalonde’s love affair with Buffalo’s NFL team comes naturally. The Bills were a team close to his home and he often attended their games over the years.

Because his hockey coaching career took him away from home, he didn’t get to see the Bills very often. In fact, it’s been a while since he’s played in three Buffalo games in one NFL season.

“Probably my junior year of college (at SUNY-Cortland),” Lalonde reckoned. “One of my teammates was a game-day point guard for (Bills coach) Marv Levy. So we would play on Saturday night and drive to the game on Sunday morning.

“That’s probably the last time I’ll ever see three games.”

Respect to lions

As Detroit’s coach, Lalonde will try to take a diplomatic approach to Thursday’s matchup. He has great respect for the flow Lions head coach Dan Campbell. The two Detroit coaches have not met.

“I’m excited to go to the game,” Lalonde said. “I share the passion and excitement the fan base has for Coach Campbell. I’m beating myself up. They (Lions) invited me to training camp and I was still in Tampa.

“I loved seeing him, his passion, what he was about. I look forward to meeting him. He doesn’t expect to fight him or fight him. Maybe if he’s on my side.

“If he looks me in the eye, I’ll be looking for a nickel on the ground.”

Lalonde plans to ask Campbell for help.

“When their season is over, I’m going to ask him to talk to the guys,” Lalonde said. “I don’t care what you talk about, talk passion as usual.”

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