Thursday, May 27, 2010

Always A Wing

What did I do when I heard the news? I cried. I cried like a little bitch, and I'm not the least bit ashamed to admit that. How could I be ashamed of a love as pure and true as the love I have for Stephen Gregory Yzerman? The Captain. Number 19 in our programs, Number 1 in our hearts (with all due apologies to Mr. Sawchuk, because he holds a special place in my heart as well). I love Stevie, and I can't be ashamed that seeing him take his first step away from Hockeytown cuts my heart into little throbbing, bleeding bits and scatters them over the lawn like wild bird seed. I just don't want to see him go.

But, like Mick Jagger would tell you, I don't always get what I want. Stevie is leaving us, moving on to the next stage in his professional life to be the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning. I understand his decision, really I do, and in no way do I resent him or his choice. I'm not angry. I want only the best for The Captain; after all, it's only fair considering that he never, not in 27 years, gave us anything less. I know he'll be brilliant, but I wish him luck anyway. He probably won't need it, but I need to make the wish for him. And then I need to step back and let him go. It might kill me, but I need to, and I will. But I'll never stop waiting for him to come back.

In their statement to the press, Mike and Marian Ilitch said what we all need to say, and they said it simply and truthfully. I can't do much better: We appreciate all Stevie has done for us, our organization and this community, and we wish him all the best. Stevie Y will always be a Red Wing and he’ll always be in our hearts.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Not October Yet?

After Game 5, I did what I do when attempting to cope with any traumatic experience: cut myself off from all humanity, climbed into bed, curled up in a fetal position, pulled the cover up over my head, and slept it off like a five-day bender. Yesterday, I finally emerged, blinking against the harsh glare of daylight, and scoped out my surroundings. And what did I see? That the Hockey Gods, while not the most generous of beings, did manage to do the right thing for once and lift Montreal to victory over the Pens in the EC semis. I saw that, and suddenly, I remembered how much I love hockey.

It's amazing what a little bit of white-hot hate can do for a girl. Once the Pens lost, everything once again became right with my world.

Seriously, though, it took me a few days to deal with the loss. Not because it was shocking, or entirely unexpected, but because I'm a Wings fan, and as the Wings go, so goes my kingdom. When they win, I'm high and when they lose, I'm despondent. It's jut the way it goes. None of that, however, diminishes the pride I feel in this year's Red Wings team. No matter what any of the asshats in the media might be saying or have said all season, this team had a great year. When you look back at the adversity we had to face, at the talent we lost, and at the schedule we played, it's impossible not to feel proud. What other team in the NHL could have gone through a self-proclaimed "transition year" like this and still managed to earn 102 points and 5 place in the Western conference, brought up a handful of new young players to the point where they held the team together during a meltdown of injuries, made it to the Western Conference semi-finals, and done it all with aplomb, grace, and class? I can't think of a single one, can you? And I can't think of any better definition for the term "dynasty." Anyone who wants to claim that Pittsburgh has any claim to being the "new dynasty" needs a bitch-slapping. For sure.

So now the Red Wings are off to rest up and get healthy for next season, and I can finally sit back and watch some hockey that doesn't turn my world upside down every time I see a turnover, or a dirty hit, or a dive, or a missed shot, or soft goal. I can just be a fan and appreciate the sport for what it is--an exciting exhibition of skill, speed, and grit that makes every other sport look about as much fun as watching paint dry. And in addition to that, I can start looking forward to the fun of the off-season.

Yeah, you read that right. I actually like the off-season. Sure, I miss watching the games, but I get to watch the draft. I get to watch the prospects. And best of all, I get to watch Kenny Holland earn his salary and his title as The Kick-Assest General Manager in Hockey History, and that might be the best part. No matter who stays and who goes, whome comes in and who retires, I know that Kenny has our backs. He'll do whatever it takes to keep the Wings at the top of the league and to give us the best chance possible to take back That Which Is Rightly Ours. How can watching that play out not be considered one hell of a good time?

With all that in mind, I can settle into the summer season with a light heart and a decided sense of optimism. We've got plenty to do before October, but we've got the perfect team in place to do it. And lest any of my 4 readers worry, I'm sure I'll have plenty of chance to bring you a continuing stream of drivel and mediocrity from now until then. No, no, don't thank me. It's the least I can do.



Saturday, May 8, 2010

It's Not Up to Me

It's up to the men wearing the Winged Wheel. I know they can do it. As others have observed, if anyone can dig their way out of a 3-1 deficit, it's this team. All I can do now, all any of us can do, is sit back and watch to see if it happens. I won't try to tell anyone that I'm not nervous, but I think I am finally able to say that whatever happens, and I'll be okay.

Honestly, to my mind, the best reason to win would be to prove to all the idiots and naysayers that they're delusional if they think this is the end of the Dynasty. How is the 19th consecutive playoff run the end of anything? Bitches, it's only the beginning, no matter how (or when) this series ends. LGRW.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Are You Kidding Me? (Part Deux)

See, this time I'm not the only one who asked. Those were seriously the words that came out of the mouth of one of the TSN announcers when Johan Franzen scored his fourth goal of the first period.  As it turns out, the Mule was perfectly, profoundly serious. He wanted to let us all know that he was back, and since he already missed the majority of a hockey season, he had no intentions of stopping the playoff run last night.

(AP Photo)

Holy son of a donkey, Batman! THIS was what we've been waiting for.

I'll admit that I was nervous before the game. I had my fingers, toes, arms, and legs crossed (which made slipping into my Sawchuk jersey a bit of a challenge) but the last 3 games hadn't left me with a whole lot of confidence. Still, when we won the opening faceoff, a flash of shock optimism raced through me and I wondered if this might be it. If this might be the game where the Wings played like, well, Wings, and showed San Jose that when the officiating is fair and the dives are kept to a minimum, Detroit really is the better team.

It was.

I won't recap the thing, because it's already been done, and done by better bloggers than me, but I will take a moment to ask one very important question of this team:
Are you done fucking with me yet? Seriously, can you stop now? Maybe? Because people are starting to leave phone books open to in-patient psychiatric facilities when they see me passing by.
Recently, I facetiously compared my fandom for the Red Wings with being the victim of an abusive relationship, but honestly, I really can't think of a better metaphor. When the Wings are losing, it's like being punched repeatedly in the head by a 300-lb. construction worker with a bad temper and malt-liquor breath; but when they're winning (or at least playing like they did last night), I forget all the past breaks and bruises, unpack my suitcases, and forget I ever doubted that Detroit returns my love with every fiber of their being(s).

Which means that I am once again all sunshine and laughter, with visions of puppies and unicorns dancing through my vision. The Red Wings have convinced me that yet another run for the WC championship is not out of the question, and the Cup is not yet out of our reach. Of course, today's Friday, and the bruises that have faded since Tuesday night could come back with a vengance tomorrow. But until then, I'm all smiles. For the moment, you can even tell that I still have all my teeth.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Reality Can Go F#%$ Itself

Ten Ways to Cope with the 3-0 Series Deficit to San Jose

  1. Drink. Copiously. With any luck, you'll black out and not wake up until sometime in late September.
  2. Find a gas oven. Extinguish the pilot light. Turn it on, open the door, insert your head. Breathe deeply.
  3. Use your free time to sew a set of 4 small voodoo dolls in the shape of NHL on-ice officials. Practice creative pin-sticking.
  4. Go to your favorite seafood restaurant. Order shark. Wield your knife with gusto.
  5. Dye all your clothes black. Wear only jewelry made of onyx and jet. Demand that the entire nation don black armbands. Begin speaking only in the royal we. Become fat and embittered.
  6. Become fat and embittered. At least getting there would be fun. I suggest the use of cupcakes. And maybe Cheetos.
  7. Sleep. Hell, hibernate. Not only is napping fundamental, it's also the key to a youthful appearance! And it will leave you well-rested for the next season.
  8. Displace your rage and disappointment with humor. Write a blog post about ridiculous ways to take your mind off the thing I'm trying to take my mind off of by writing this blog post.
  9. Go to Buy the boxed set listed here. Every time a game is scheduled to play on broadcast television, pick the corresponding game from the DVD and watch that instead. Pause it at the breaks where the commercials originally aired and watch live commercials for that authentic feel. 
  10. Look on the bright side and contemplate the fact that this season has caused pain and misery from the first puck drop to the last. And it feels like we've lost the faceoff on all of them.  So why was it that we want it to keep going?
(Un)Fortunately, the season is not over yet. We still have one more chance to prolong the pain and extend the suffering. We can by postpone the sweep and take game 4, so that we can at least say we won one game in memory of our dignity. I just can't decide if that's what I want to happen.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tag Team Hockey: DET vs SJS AND NHL

If there's one thing I'm learning in this year's playoffs, it's that I have a hard time writing a coherent and intelligent post when there are flames shooting out my nostrils and there's a billowing red haze in front of my eyes.

I am tempted, almost beyond endurance, to use this post to spew a a steaming vat of vitriolic bile and hate all over the internet. To comment, as it were, on the fact that the officiating in tonight's 4-3 loss against the San Jose Sharks was so one-sided that the entire 60 minutes was never more even than 9-on-5. The thing that stops me is that very few of the calls against the Sharks (what few there were) came with any more justification than the ones against the Wings. Which means that my problem is not that I'm a Red Wings Conspiracy Theorist (though I am) but that the NHL's officiating is a joke.

Incompetence pisses me off. It pisses off most people in my experience. Why does the NHL not think it pisses off hockey fans? Come to think of it, why doesn't it piss off the NHL itself? Shouldn't they have a little more pride than that? Shouldn't they have a little more respect for the sport they supposedly represent?

Blargh. I could go on all night. I could dissect each of the atrocious calls (which far outnumbered the reasonable ones) but there's no point to it. The game is over, and if the Red Wings intend to make it to the WCFs, they need to take from it one very specific lesson: In order to win, we have to beat the Sharks AND the referees, which means we have to play hard, clean and consistently. We need to make smart decisions, responsible passes, and check as if our lives depended on it. Because they do. And most of all, we need to SHOOT THE PUCK.

The Wings are more than capable of winning this series. So let's put this behind us and move on. Head back to the Joe and remember that even when we're playing against two opponents in one game, we have what it takes to win. Now let's prove it.