You’re at your favorite sportsbar/grill, enjoying a lovely dinner with your family. You daughter’s telling the family about all the interesting things she learned in science class when all of the sudden:
GAAAADAMNIT! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?! DO YOU ASSHATS WANT THE CUP OR NOT!
Which is followed 2 minutes later by:
WOOOOOOOOOOO! OH HELL YEAH! THOSE ARE MY BOYS!
And you all shift uncomfortably in your seats, and make stiff little jokes about, “Well, someone must have done something exciting,” and wonder aloud when hockey season ends.
I should make 1 distinction. I’m not really a hockey fan. Put on a game with players in yellow and blue, and I couldn’t give a shit. I mean, I’ll watch it, but it’s not something in which I really invest an interest.
Put my Red Wings, however, and I won’t blink until intermission. I will however, scream at the players on the screen, chrew my knuckles, bang on the table/bar, and absentmindedly drink from whatever bottle is closest to my coaster. 2.5 hours later, the game is over, my throat is sore, I have arranged meetings in 2 different parking lots, and I’m unexplicable drunk. I’m a viament Wings fan; we are the best, we have always been the best, we will always be the best, and no facts you can present to me will ever change that opinion.
When I was in the 5th grade, I decided that I was going to cheer for the Colorado Avelanche, out of loyalty to the state in which I was born. Let me tell you how well that went over. Our town may be divided between Michigan and Michigan State, but there’s only 1 hockey team in the state of Michigan. After several stern talks and an ass-kicking or two, I quickly corrected myself.
In the 7th grade, I was friends with several die-hard Wings fans. We all had crushes on the goalie, Chris Osgood, as documented by the slumber party pictures we took all touching his poster with our tongues poking out the corner of our mouths. (We thought we were sexy.) One of my friends even wrote what was essentially fan-fic about Super Steve (Steve Yzerman,) and his sidekick, Lil’ Dandy (Mathieu Dandenault,) and their fight against the evil Roy (Patrick Roy, goalie for the Colorado Avelanche,) and on more than one occasion we acted it out for the class. It was met with surprising (for most schools) enthusiasm.
As I’ve grown up and left mid-Michigan, the Wings have continued to be important to me. Of course, I don’t get to watch the games hardly at all, seeing as apparently Illinois/Georgia/Kansas cable companies don’t think hockey is vital to daily life, but I try and keep up online, and being in the playoffs I’ve watched every game with an unhealthy obsession. It’s funny, but I almost think that the Wings are more important to me now, living far from my hometown, than they were when I lived just down the road from Hockeytown. I think it’s because it’s one of the few things about my hometown that I can be proud of. Not that Jackson wasn’t great, but no one’s every heard of it; to most people it’s just another faceless Midwest town. And it’s not like Detroit has much to be proud of; when we’re not being touted as the most dangerous city in the country, we’re the one with some of the highest unemployment in the county. Talk about Detroit, and people think of poverty and street violence. But you talk about the Red Wings, and that’s something different, something to be proud of. I tell people that I’m a Red Wings fan, and now there’s something they can be jelous of. I’m from Hockeytown, and we’re to be feared and revered. It’s the little piece of my hometown that I can display with pride.
So even though the Red Wings lost tonight, I’m not incredibly upset. For one, it means that now we can win the game at home, with all the proper frenzied excitement and manic loyalty that only Detroit fans can provide. But it also gives me one more chance to sit in the bar with half-dozen other Wings fans, and along with the thousands of our brethren at the Joe, cheer on our heroes as they bring the cup back home, and be proud of who I am and where I come from.
Sorry if I ruin your dinner.