Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You Can Take the Girl Out of the Vatican...

Maybe this all traces back to my Irish-Italian Catholic (on my mother's side... Dad's a protestant Scot all the way) roots, but I feel the need to make confession. To bare my soul, reveal my sins, and begin the increasingly short road to the playoffs with a clean conscience. After all, if I say 4 Hail Marys, 10 Our Fathers and light 2 candles, the goat sacrifices and premeditated murder get waved off, right?

Generally, as a Red Wings fan, I know myself to be the purest of hockey-hearted humans. After all, my team epitomizes class among professional athletes. The organization sets the standard for all other NHL franchises. We have Nicklas Frickin' Lidstrom, for gods' sakes. What in the world could I have to feel guilty about?

Well, it's not a long list, but here it is...

I want the Red Wings to win Every. Single. Game.
I know, I know, it's not realistic. It's not even possible, given the nature of the sport, the frailty of the human body, and the existence of Jonathan Ericsson, but this wish doesn't come from my rational forebrain. It's wholly a product of my animal--nay, my reptilian--hindbrain. The stem that keeps my heart beating, my lungs inflating, and Red and White circulating in my veins. Mea Culpa.

I still haven't forgiven Jiri Hudler.
To the reptilian hindbrain, he committed the unpardonable sin--he left Detroit. And it wasn't so much that he left, it was that he left for money. Filthy lucre. I forgave Shanny for leaving, because he needed a place where he could be the leader of a new surge, not a leftover from the shadow of Steve Yzerman. But Jiri was just a greedy little sonofabitch. He got a good offer--an offer an arbitrater agreed was fair--and he walked away for cash. That pisses me off. Plus, when he came back it took 2/3 of the season to make himself useful. He's still got work to do to win me over. If he ever can.

I'm in Awe of the Talented Star on the Team, but My Heart Belongs to the Grinders.
No one can take anything away from Pavel or Hank or Nick. My God, those guys are superstars; thankfully, the kind of superstars who don't feel the need to point that out to everyone around them. My jaw drops in awe when Pasha dangles his way to yet another highlight reel goal; I shake my head in amazement while watching TPH make defensive hockey look effortless; I ooh and aah when Hank fends of a seeming army of opposing skaters to keep the puck and take the shot. When my knees really get weak, though, is when Draper teaches the meaning of the word hustle to a cocky eighteen-year-old on the visiting team, or when Helm kills off 30 seconds of penalty time single-handedly, or when Abby stands someone up as if he was a second pairing defenseman instead of a 4th line forward. Those are the players who put stars in my eyes, and those are the ones I'll be rooting for the loudest.

I Actually Like Todd Bertuzzi.
There. I said it. And I meant it, damn it. Yes, I've seen The Hit. Many times. It was cheap, and it was ugly, and it never should have happened. But you know what? I've also seen the apology and the tears and the sincerity of the regret. I've seen a man who has grown the hell up, who went from being a power forward with too much ego and a hot head to a responsible two-way player who's just grateful everyday for the chance to play hockey. I see a man who lives every day knowing his life with never go back to the way it was Before, but who does his best to move on and be a better, more responsible guy than he used to be. And I see a guy who recognizes that becoming a Red Wing (for the 2nd time) was both the smartest thing he ever did, and the best gift he's ever been given. I can respect that. So go ahead and give me shit for this. I can take it. But I'm not gonna change my mind.

There. Forgive me, father, for I have sinned. The kicker is, though, that I don't regret a single bit of it. So maybe my soul isn't going to be all that cleansed by this. Oh, well. You'll all be invited to visit me in my cute little condo with a view of the river Styx. Hell has the best parties, anyway.

Let's Go Red Wings!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Language of Numbers - Part III

The continuing stoooooooooory of my personal and judgmental views on what the sweater you wear says about you as a human being. And more importantly, as a Wings fan...
  • #51 - Filppula - It's all about potential. About flashes of brilliance and the next generation. You appreciate skill, and you have the patience to wait for it to develop. But you may find yourself on your feet shouting "Need More Shoot!" from time to time.
  • #52 - Ericsson - You like... um, wait.... You respect... er, no... You're all about... *sigh* no, I can't explain this one. Unless you're the kind of woman who can be won by a pretty face to the extent that you don't care about the space between the ears. Either that, or your bought your jersey during the '08-09 playoffs and you can't being yourself to discard something you spent $300 on.
  • #55 - Kronwall - Oh, but nothing turns you on like a clean, hard, tooth-rattling, bone-shaking, open ice hit. The kind the receiving team dreads, the opposing fans hate, and in which the officials (if they actually read the rulebook) can find nothing to call. Too bad you can barely remember what one of those looks like.
  • #81 - Hossa - I only include this because I've seen them. And all I can say is... stupidity?
  • #90 - Modano - I can respect an open-minded man (or woman), and you're one of those. You know Kenny always knows what he's doing and you're happy to show respect for probably the greatest American hockey player of all time, even if he is the new guy. At least he wears the right colors now.
  • #93 - Franzen - When a guys gets a nickname from Stevie Y, he carries it to his grave. Or right into the net, like the Mule does. You like a big man with big talent. and you've got the patience to sit through the occasional slump in exchange for the glory of the 5-goal games.
  • #96 - Holmstrom - You're a Wings fan. End of story. If you wouldn't consider wearing this number, then, God, Jed*, I don't even wanna know you.
So you may agree, you may disagree, and you may have ideas of your own. You wanna let me know what you think? Leave a comment.

*Everything in life is a reference to The West Wing, if you just know where to look.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Language of Numbers, Part Deux

The continuing stoooooooooory of my personal and judgmental views on what the sweater you wear says about you as a human being. And more importantly, as a Wings fan...

  • #23 - Stuart - "Solid" is your idea of a high compliment. You admire the men who do their jobs, who don't whine, and who don't feel a need to blow their own horns.
  • #24 - Probert - You've got a soft squishy place inside reserved for a tough guy. You're as loyal as a bulldog, and you know how to forgive. And you know that sometimes a bad boy is the nicest guy in the room.
  • #25 - McCarty - March 26, 1997. Do you really need to explain this?
  • #26 - Hudler - You really like hookers.
  • #30 - Osgood - The haters can go fuck themselves. The man's 10th all time in wins by an NH goalie. He's got 400 wins to his name,  3 Stanley Cup rings, 2 Jennings tropheys... Aw, fuck it. You know what? YOU know why you wear it, and any Wings fan knows why you wear it, and everyone else can see the beginning of this description.
  • #33 - Draper - Grinders rule. Grit, hard work, determination, and dedication are the qualities you admire most. You want to give props to a man who sacrificed his face for his team and is still one of the hardest workers on the ice every single night. You're glad to have the world's best mentor for new players, and you love how much the man loves the game.
  • # 35 - Howard - You're ready to give credit where credit is due, and you prefer to look toward the future rather than living in the past. You appreciate tradition, but you want the cup again. Bad.
  • #40 - Zetterberg -The most underrated forward in the league, the man who manages to rack up 69 points without having scored a goal since 1937... seriously, what was the question?
  • #43 - Helm - You have an eye on the future, and on a player with mind-boggling speed, a work ethic learned at the feet of Draper, and motor-oil coated feathers in his blood.
  • #44 - Bertuzzi - You believe in second chances, and you appreciate a man who has shown he can grow as both a player and a person. And you can probably take the punches that might be thrown at you.
The plane to Hockeytown leaves in less than 12 hours, the jerseys are hanging in preparation for being packed, and the Wings had better be fucking hungry for a win.

Let's Go Red WIngs!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Language of Numbers

H2H2 is almost upon us (SQUEE!!!!!!), and in honor of that momentous occasion, I've been planning my game wardrobe. Translation: I've been trying to decide which of my jerseys to wear for the party and the subsequent riot at the Joe. I'm still torn, so it's not like I can reveal my decision yet, but the quandary has gotten me thinking.

Wearing a player's number makes a statement. Who you choose to honor says something about what's important to you, about what you value and whom you admire. For instance, we all know that if you wear a Pens87 jersey, you're saying you're a pussy who cries a lot. But what does it mean if you wear a Wings jersey (Other than that you've got the good taste to support the greatest hockey franchise in history)?

Let's take a look:

  • #1 - Sawchuk - You rock it old school, baby, and you don't mind carrying a few scars if it gets the job done.
  • #5 - Lidstrom - Perfection leaves you in awe. You don't expect it, but you're smart enough to appreciate it. The combination of skill, smarts, and class gives you a secret little thrill. Well, okay, it's probably not much of a secret.
  • #7 - Lindsay - Old time hockey turns you on. You like it rough, tough, and terrible, and you'll always stand up for your beliefs, just like Ted did for the players
  • #9 - Howe - You don't just love Mr. Hockey, you love hockey itself. You love a player who could, and did, do it all. And did it well, but you also just love the game, every goal-scoring, puck-stopping, glove-dropping, punch-throwing minute of it.
  • #10 - Delvecchio - You admire the combination of skill and class. You remember the Production Line with awe and fondness. You also have a thing for unsung heroes, since arguably few of Detroit's legends get less props than Mr. Delvecchio.
  • #11 - Cleary - You admire hard work. You live in the now and you appreciate that someone can come from outside and embrace the Wings philosophy down to the ground, becoming better than ever behind the Winged Wheel.
  • #12 - Abel - Versatility, leadership, and tradition mean a lot to you, and you're happy to show respect for those who deserve it.
  • #13 - Datsyuk - You'll never mind standing around with your jaw hanging open, because the man in this number is so good, your puny human mind can't wrap itself around the truth of it.
  • #14 - Shanahan - Good times never go out of style.  You admire drive, talent, toughness, and a sense of humor. Oh, and you also like a good Irish jig.
  • #16 - Konstantinov - You believe, and you don't intend to ever forget. You're loyal and you know that real talent should be commemorated and celebrated.
  • #19 - Yzerman - You bleed Detroit. You recognize greatness, and you're proud to represent it. Loyalty, skill, leadership, and class are your bywords, and you defy anyone to tell you there was ever anyone greater. Gretzky be damned. He was a one-trick pony compared to Stevie.

That takes care of the rafters and the first bunch. More in a day or two.

Let's Go Red Wings!!!