A Wings’ fan’s response to Associated Content

Sometimes things posted on the internet are better left not posted…

A friend of mine linked me to this article last night. It’s an associated content article on Yahoo Sports by a freelance writer.

The Detroit Red Wings: Why I hate this obnoxious hockey team.

Go ahead and read it. But just know from the title that you’re in for some jaw-dropping, “Who would think of writing this?” moments. The comments, all 123 of them, rip into Sherri Thornhill, and some of them are people who are Dallas Stars fans [like she says she is] and some who don’t even like the Red Wings.

That article is full of prejudices and biases against the Detroit Red Wings and in my eyes, it’s one of those things that someone publishes to get any kind of attention from the media. And yes, I will buy into this and give it attention. Being from and living in the Detroit area and knowing how the struggling city is the butt of so many jokes today makes me feel the need to stand up and say, “Hey. Don’t judge us from what you think you know.”

So I’ll expand on some of the comments Thornhill makes in her article.

“The Detroit Red Wings are the Stars Western Conference rivals; around here we call them the “Dead Things” or “Dead Wings.”"

Firstly, the Red Wings may be the Stars’ Western Conference rivals, but the Stars are not the Red Wings’ rivals. That would be Colorado for the better part of the 90s and 2000s and lately it’s been the Chicago Blackhawks and sometimes even the Nashville Predators.

Secondly, the “Dead Wings” was our nickname in the 1980s and the majority of the hockey fandom has stopped calling us that, mostly because we left that drought behind us nineteen years ago.

———–

“Mike Modano is a Detroit Red Wing.”

Yes he is. And I’m sorry that he had to leave Dallas, especially since he’s such an iconic player for that entire franchise. But is it our fault that the Stars decided they wanted to take another direction with the team and had to let him go? Is it our fault that he’s from the Detroit area? That he has a hockey arena in the area named after him? That he decided to choose his original home to finish his career?

The answer is no to all of those questions. Mike Modano wanted to keep playing, but Dallas said they had younger players they wanted to bring up. Rather than retire, he turned to his hometown with a team that’s known for bringing in veterans they believe will help their team be better.

I’m sorry that you hate us so much and I’m sorry you have to see Modano in a Winged Wheel, but that’s something you have to live with because of your organization’s choices. And maybe it’ll work out.

———–

“The Detroit Red Wings are the New York Yankees of the NHL.”

I’ve always hated this comparison.

———–

“The Detroit Red Wings are arrogant.”

An excerpt: They prance on the ice and are smug off of it. Most of the Detroit players are self-important nit-wits. I can’t stand watching them play, or give interviews or breathe; they are jerks.”

Don’t make assumptions about players just because you hate the whole team. I hate Sidney Crosby with a passion, but I’ve been told that off the ice he is nice and moderately humble. I wouldn’t doubt it.  Plus, I know he’s a quality hockey player. I may not hate him, but I don’t say he prances around on the ice because that just sounds like he’s wearing a tutu.

Most hockey players are pretty humble, so assuming that an entire franchise’s team is made up of “self-important nit-wits” and “jerks” is a pretty big statement to make, especially basing it off of their play. Have you ever read or watched an interview with Pavel Datsyuk? He’s hilarious! And he is far from being a self-important nit-wit.

Two years ago, Mitch Albom wrote an article in the Detroit Free Press that was nothing but an interview with Datsyuk, several days after Yahoo Sports did something similar. He had a Russian translator so Datsyuk could answer in his foreign tongue if it was easier to get his point across. That article is still one of the best things I have ever read. Here’s just an excerpt from it:

“What do you want people to know about you that they don’t, I ask him?

“I am 5-foot-11 and weigh 190,” he says, laughing. “No, I don’t really like compliments. I don’t think I am as good as I can be. I don’t want to make a commercial about myself. Please.”

OK then.

No commercial. No ugly duckling story. Just a curtain lifted on a guy who has been a sports fixture for eight years in this town, and deserves a moment to explain himself – in his own words. You see an amazing performer when you watch Pavel Datsyuk buzz around the ice.[You can read the entire interview here at Albom's website. It's moving.]

A humble guy from Russia. That sounds like a self-important nit-wit, don’t you think?

I’ve fortunately had the opportunity to meet/have conversations [or at least interaction] with Wings players. Brett Lebda likes to swear casually and poke fun at his team mates; he complained about Chris Chelios taking the Stanley Cup from him earlier than planned.
Brian Rafalski was talking to me about Halloween costumes for five minutes because I mentioned I was Zetterberg for Halloween last year.
Niklas Kronwall was ridiculously happy and impressed with my Kronwall totebag. He apparently had no idea they existed and said he needed one. In his words, “It could be really useful, you know, on the road.”
Patrick Eaves was crazy concerned when I told him I fell on the ice while skating.
Valtteri Filppula kept assuring me it was totally okay for me to ask for his signature since I kept apologizing while he signed my puck [hey, I felt bad for interrupting his dessert].
And Ted Lindsay is like a sweet old grandfather. He signed a puck for my brother and then when my brother was trying to reach his camera and moving the puck in his hand, Lindsay say, “Oh, be careful! I don’t want you to smudge it!”

Even walking up to players and asking for a picture, I’ve never been turned down. These guys don’t get bombarded by crazy, rabid fans; they can easily walk through a mall and have no one bother them, which is why they’re so lenient and pretty friendly. That may also have to do with their personalities.

To be fortunate enough to meet the players and see that they aren’t arrogant like other athletes makes me feel as though I have to defend their humanity to people that assume otherwise.

———–

“Detroit Red Wings play boring hockey.”

Excerpt: “Watching the Red Wings play is like watching a bunch of boring robots skate around the ice.”

Okay, whoever told her that Nicklas Lidstrom is a robot needs to be shut up. That one was supposed to be a secret.

I don’t know what Red Wings games she’s been watching, but apparently she hasn’t seen anyone get Kronwalled. Or watched Datsyuk and Zetterberg do their magic thing. I will admit there are some boring games, but can’t that be said for any team?

———–

And the last paragraph:

“The Red Wings fans are some of the least knowledgeable, obnoxious, arrogant group of wannabe hockey fans I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting. They are more interested in getting drunk at the games than to actually watch the game. I guess if my team was as boring as Detroit’s I would just drink instead too. When the fans are good and drunk and want to show their Red Wings some love, they throw Octopus out onto the ice. Sometimes the octopus is alive, sometimes it isn’t; either way, it’s just another stupid thing Detroit Red Wings fans do. I hate the Detroit Red Wings and their obnoxious fans. The Red Wings have the worst hockey fans and the worst hockey team.

Before I embark on this one, I would just like to say that the octopus-throwing is a tradition that started back in the 1950s. We don’t throw octopi onto the ice because we’re bored. We do it because it’s tradition. Apparently “tradition” isn’t a word in people’s vocabulary.

Every hockey team has their drunk fans, their obnoxious fans, their annoying fans. Anyone I have ever sat by in a Wings game has almost always started talking stats with me and discussing things that are happening in the game or happened in previous games or what we think is going to happen. Rarely have they ever had more than one or two glasses of beer. And I’m sitting in the upper rows of the upper bowl in the cheap seats.

Wings fans know their hockey. Yeah, you get the loudmouth fans who doesn’t know anything [like a guy sitting a few rows behind me who was complaining that whoever was sitting next to him was a Tomas Holmstrom fan], but an entire fan base being like that is pretty rare. I know fellow Wings fans will point at Blackhawks fans and Penguins fans, but I know better. I know decent fans of both those teams and heck, the internet isn’t the best place to meet thousands of amazing fans of teams you hate.

Wings fans are passionate about their hockey. Really passionate. It may be because we’re so close to Canada. Those people rub off on you pretty easy. So being overly passionate about our team apparently makes us look arrogant. And that’s because we usually know our facts when we’re in a conversation about hockey.

The majority of Wings fans aren’t jerks either. We don’t sit in the stands and start chants about how the other team sucks. We start chants of “Let’s go Red Wings!” or sing along to “Sweet Caroline” or “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Our only exceptions to the taunting are Marty Turco, because his record at Joe Louis Arena is terrible, and Sidney Crosby.

I’m just thankful she didn’t start bashing Mike and Marian Ilitch. Ilitch Holdings is one of the best corporations out there. This is a family who cares for their Detroit sports and the city itself. They are currently in the process of trying to buy the Detroit Pistons NBA team so the city doesn’t lose them. They do so much for that city, both franchise-wise and charity-wise, that here in Detroit it’s almost blasphemous to say anything mean toward them.

You want to meet good, cool fans that know their stuff? Make a comment about their NHL shirt or hat when you see them and start up a conversation. I do that every time I’m in Disney World and it’s always so much fun. I high-fived a guy in a Hartford Whalers jersey at the Magic Kingdom. I also got some compliments on my Kronwall bag. I had a guy seating my family at the “Finding Nemo” musical in the Animal Kingdom who said he was a Boston Bruins fan. His response when he saw our Wings attire? This:

“Uh oh. You guys are Wings fans. We can’t seat you up front even if you do have an autographed hat! You have to be a Boston Bruins fan. But you’re Original Six, so we’ll let it slide.” He proceeded to seat us in the “penalty box,” and then put Stars fans next to us and some Washington Capitals fans across the row. I love hockey stories from Disney. They always stick with me.

You know the saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”? Don’t do that. Get informed before you post something for the whole internet to see, especially when you’re going to have 123 comments that lash out against you.

Christina Roberts
NHLHS Detroit Red Wings Correspondent
Email: christina.roberts@nhlhotstove.com
Twitter: @Franzenmuth