I didn’t want the Detroit Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup this year for the team, the city, the fans or myself. I wanted it for my husband. In case you don't know, my husband is English and this was his first NHL season living in the States.
Most of us, even the fair weather fans, have supported the Red Wings for years. We’ve rode the roller coaster of ups and downs throughout our lives. We have a history with this team. For my husband, however, this is all new. He’s a new fan and doesn’t have the same connections and memories that we do.
I have been a Red Wings fan since the early to mid 80’s. I was a fan when we sucked. I was a fan when Mitch Albom went to Kmart with Petr Klima. I was a fan when Jacques Demers was fired. And I was a fan when the Bruise Brothers, Bob Probert and Joey Kocur, were known for tearing it up on the ice.
During my freshman year of college a friend, who shall remain anonymous, would steal the Detroit Free Press sports section from the library for me so I could follow my team. I would try, and sometimes succeed, to tune in WJR from my dorm room in Milwaukee so I could listen to the games.
I was also a fan when we were awesome. In 1997, I was living in Chicago and wore my Red Wings jersey proudly when we won the Stanley Cup. I think I actually enjoyed being tortured by the Blackhawks fans. In 1998, I was home in Detroit for my cousin's high school graduation party on the day we won the cup. I’m still indebted to her for scheduling it on that day.
I moved back to metro Detroit in 1999 and started frequenting a bar in Birmingham, Dick O’Dow's. Imagine my amazement when I found out that this wasn’t just my regular bar—Brendan Shanahan, Chris Chelios, and Brett Hull also hung out here. Seriously. I was on cloud nine and enjoyed chats with them on occasion. In 2002, the cup came to Birmingham and Dominik Hasek walked into Dick O’Dow's to a rockstar entrance. Pure bliss!
And of course, 2008 brought another cup to Detroit. This time I was living in England and had to celebrate on my own. Actually, I fell asleep before the end of the final game, before the cup was hoisted. In my defense, the games don’t start in the UK until 1am.
You see, I have had some great experiences as a Detroit Red Wings fan. More than I could have ever dreamed of. I have seen how a city can come together and celebrate after winning the Stanley Cup. I’ve had that joy, sometimes it was long distance joy, but I’ve had it. We’ve had it.
So I didn’t want the Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup this year for the city, the players, or me. I wanted Stanley back in Hockeytown for my husband, so he could experience it. So he could see the joy, the love, the excitement.
After the game, I went off by myself to collect my thoughts. And it dawned on me, my husband already has the love of hockey and the Detroit Red Wings. He’s been diligently watching just about every game since we arrived in the States in December. He loves the game, he understands the game and he certainly knows how to shout at the refs.
He might not know who Scotty Bowman, Jacques Demers, or Petr Klima are, but he’ll learn. He knows the names of Ted Lindsey, Steve Yzerman, and Gordie Howe. Hell, he met Gordie Howe before game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Gordie asked my husband whose name was on the back of his jersey. My husband replied that in Europe they don’t have names on the back of jerseys—it’s about the team and not the individual—so his jersey didn’t have a name on it. Mr. Hockey liked that answer.
He also has a love of Detroit that I’m very proud of. He’ll defend Detroit and its beauty to anyone. He’s experienced the city and, in the short time that he’s been here, he knows it well. We both have learned about and appreciated the city since our arrival.
Yesterday, we were driving down to the Red Bull Air Race on the Detroit River and my husband, unprovoked, said, "I'm proud to live here." You see, he didn’t need the Wings to bring home the cup. He’s already a true Red Wings fan and a true fan of Detroit. That is what matters.
But, damn, I wish we won the cup!