DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland will drop the ceremonial first puck at Thursday night's Detroit Red Wings game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings asked Leyland in honor of the beginning of baseball's regular season, and Leyland, an admitted hockey fan, happily accepted. It won't be his first puck drop, either; Leyland dropped the puck before a Pittsburgh Penguins game during his tenure as Pirates manager.

That one left a lasting impression on Leyland because he had the chance to come face to face with one of hockey's greats at center ice.

"Mario Lemieux came out," Leyland said. "I was pretty impressed."

Leyland said he enjoys watching hockey in person, but not on television. He attends a few Penguins games every offseason. While he never played competitive hockey, he did enjoy skating at a nearby pond as a kid.

His fondness for hockey made dropping the puck for a Red Wings game a no-brainer.

"I want to go watch," Leyland said. "We have a good team [in Detroit]."