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!

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