Robitaille and Avery now play for the opposition, the Los Angeles Kings. Robitaille signed as a free agent this summer and Avery was dealt at the trade deadline last March in the trade that brought Mathieu Schneider to Detroit.
Though Robitaille and Avery are gone, they have not been forgotten.
Darren McCarty, who was Robitaille's roommate on the road for two seasons, still talks to the left winger.
"He is (happy). He would have wished for a different situation, but that's like his hometown, he keeps going back there,'' McCarty said. "Like I said, I hope he scores a ton of goals, except none against us.''
McCarty compared the situation to playing in a fantasy football league.
"You want to smash their faces in, but you wish them no ill will,'' McCarty said.
Avery, who uses his verbosity to get under the skin of opponents, worked out with Kris Draper every day in the offseason in the Toronto area.
"We were kind of kidding that the first game of the season is Aves coming back to Detroit,'' Draper said. "I'm sure he's excited about it and we're going to hear from him from warmup right to the end of the game. I think everyone is thinking of lines and comebacks we're going to need.''
In fact, Draper was thinking about sitting down Wednesday night and scripting a host of replies specifically for Avery.
Robitaille had a good preseason with the Kings, scoring three goals and eight points to lead the team in scoring.
Everyone, including coach Dave Lewis, expects them to play hard tonight.
"They're competitive guys. Luc is going to be in the Hall of Fame and Sean is trying to establish himself as a player,'' Lewis said. "I expect their top games.''
Ah, the flip side
Derian Hatcher's parents, Eric and Carol, live in the area and are happy that their son is a Red Wing now. They know what the atmosphere is like at Joe Louis Arena when you are cheering for the opposition. It's not good.
"My mom stopped coming to games when I would come to town to visit,'' said Hatcher, who played the last 10 seasons for Dallas. "She has come to three preseason games. It's the flip side. Now she doesn't mind it.''
Hatcher, who signed as a free agent this summer, will play his first regular-season game as a Red Wing tonight.
This and that
The whole team practiced Wednesday. No one sat out with an injury. ... Lewis has made his lineups for tonight but would not share them. One forward, one defenseman and one goaltender will not dress for the game.