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Red Wings Lalonde a Member of Bills Mafia

Lalonde a long time Bills fan



Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde
Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde will be cheering on his Buffalo Bills on Thursday against the Detroit Lions.

Among the capacity crowd that will fill Ford Field for Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day game will be Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde. And for the first time since he took the Red Wings’ job, he’ll be rooting for a Detroit setback.

“That’s a tough one,” Lalonde said, doing his best to sound diplomatic. “It’s my favorite AFC team up against my favorite NFC team.

“I’ve always liked the Lions with that powder blue.”

Make no mistake, though. Lalonde’s allegiancies don’t ride with the Honolulu blue and silver. He’s a card-carrying member of Bills Mafia. Has been one for decades.

Already this season, he’s seen his gridiron heroes in person twice. Lalonde was able to attend the Bills-Green Bay Packers Sunday Night Football game on the night before the Red Wings were playing the Sabres in Buffalo.

He was also there last week when a severe snowstorm ended up causing the NFL to relocate the Bills vs Cleveland Browns game to Ford Field

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

Lalonde Long Time Bills Backer

Hailing from Brasher Falls, N.Y., Lalonde comes by his love affair with Buffalo’s NFL team naturally. The Bills were the closer squad to his home and for years, he would frequent their games.

As his hockey coaching career took him way from home, he wasn’t able to see the Bills in person very often. In fact, it’s been quite some time since he attended three Buffalo games in one NFL season.

“Maybe my junior year in college (at SUNY-Cortland),” Lalonde estimated. “One of my teammates’ father was (Bills coach) Marv Levy’s game-day security guard. So we’d play Saturday night and we’d all get in the car Sunday morning and go to the game.

“That’s probably the last time I seen three games.”

Respect For Lions

As a Detroit coach, Lalonde is trying to be diplomatic in his approach to Thursday’s showdown. He expresses significant respect for current Lions head coach Dan Campbell. The two Detroit coaches haven’t met.

“I’m excited about going to the game,” Lalonde said. “The same passion and excitement the fan base has here with Coach Campbell, I have, too. I’m kicking myself. They (Lions) invited me over in training camp and I was still in Tampa.

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“I’ve liked watching him, his passion, what he’s about. I’m looking forward to meeting him sometime. Not looking forward to wrestling him or getting into a bar brawl with him. Maybe if he was on my side.

“If he looks me in the eyes, I’ll be looking for nickels on the ground for sure.”

Lalonde does plan to ask a favor of Campbell, though.

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