05 October 2009

In which I describe, at length, my journey to hockey fandom.

Hello, sunshines. How is it going all around Hockeyland and environs? It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood... I can't believe I just said that. Quickly moving on now...

So, a reader asked me recently where I was from, and I figured this would be a good segue for a post introducing myself a little more and getting to know the fabulous people who have started reading my blog (!).

I am a wild and wonderful West Virginia girl, born and raised. OK, so I totally know what your next thought is. "Why in the hell is she a Wings' fan?"

Well, the first step in my becoming a puckhead was the acquisition of a puckhead boyfriend. My better half for almost three years (Brian, who has commented on here and is officially listed as a co-author in the great annals of this blog's Blogger profile) took me to my very first hockey game early in our relationship while he was living in Omaha. I instantly fell in love with the game. It's graceful, aggressive, energetic, athletic, and just freakin' awesome. It takes so much work and talent to put points on the board, and ultimately, it's all about the game. If the game is close, what happens on the ice matters up until literally the last tenth of a second (which is why it's been so difficult to watch the Wings lately).

Also, hockey is different from the three other major sports in this country because the majority of hockey players actually give two craps about their jobs. I'm not saying there aren't football, baseball, or basketball players who don't work hard, but by and large, the American sports culture has turned into a cult of personality. How many times have you watched a baseball game and seen a player struggle to run around the bases? Or a basketball player who can't execute a free throw? Don't even get me started on the Pittsburgh Steelers' James Harrison--he who needed an oxygen tank after hauling ass down the length of the football field. A fucking OXYGEN TANK. These are things you can pay a strapping 12-year-old kid $20 to do for an hour, and he or she wouldn't have a problem. But multimillionaire athletes get a free pass, not only for these examples, but also for their asinine behavior, for no apparent reason other than the hero worship associated with professional athletes.

There is none of that in hockey. People give two shits about what they do, all the time. Sure, there are games when the team seems to be in autopilot, but that doesn't mean they forget how to skate or shoot the puck or any other basic skill integral to the game itself. Further, Pavel Datsyuk is notorious for hitting the gym immediately AFTER a full game (which is precisely when I would be reaching for my oxygen mask).

So, after I fell in love with the game itself, I needed a team to whom I could channel my adoration. Brian is a lifelong Wings fan. However, I thought it was super lame to jump on the bandwagon of my boyfriend's favorite team. Living where I do, the logical choice due to geography would have been either the Washington Capitals or the--ugh, I'm starting to feel a little queasy--Pittsburgh Penguins (uh-oh, I just ralphed all over my keyboard). Neither team especially jumped out at me, despite having superstars on their respective rosters (and--surprise, surprise--Sidney Crosby irritated the fuck out of me immediately). Moreover, I didn't want to join on any of the local bandwagons because that's just not how I roll.

The other team I considered in my quest for a soulmate was the Philadelphia Flyers, primarily because I have a soft spot for Philly in general. It's the site of my all-time favorite movie, Rocky. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia makes me want to flee there and live a life of debauchery and abject laziness. I love me some Philly cheesesteaks. Its sports fans might actually be clinically insane. What's not to love?

Unfortunately, I just couldn't get behind the organization. There just wasn't that...soulmate connection. You know what I mean. Two things make me uber glad I'm not a Flyers' aficianado: (1) Their owner invited hockey mom extraordinaire Sarah Palin to drop the puck for opening night last year. Oops, I just ralphed again. (2) I'd rather shit my pants and die than cheer for that asshat Chris Pronger.

In the meantime, I had been watching the Wings with my boyfriend, and something strange happened. I began to realize I was experiencing this familiar feeling, in the least expected of all places. Could it be...?

Against my vehement wishes, I realized I had feelings for the Detroit Red Wings.

I couldn't help myself.

It's kinda like falling in love with your best guy friend after looking for years and years for Mr. Right, and he was "right" there all along. (Oh, my, I'm hilarious. If someone makes a movie based on my life, does it make you gag to think my love of the Wings could write its own chick flick? I just died.)

They're just so fabulous. I mean, really, what's not to love? (And I mean it this time.) They are hard-working and ambitious. The organization is loyal. The superstars of the team itself are quiet and unassuming, so un-celebrity-like in their approach, on and off the ice. They don't get arrested for allegedly beating up cabbies over spare change. They don't go back to their home countries and diss American chicks for being fat. They don't badmouth their exes in public. They don't eat people's faces. They don't do this. Or this. Or this (WTF, Pumbaa?!).

Maybe those things don't bother some people. But they do bother me, for the reasons I listed earlier in this post about why I heart hockey so much. By and large, it's the antithesis of sports culture, and the Wings are the antithesis of stereotypical athletes. The most commercial thing we have is this:

And I'm totally ok with that.

Anyway, I'm so happy that you guys are reading my stuff. I know my BFF Maxie put the word out for my blog, which is how at least some of you found it. I just wanted to share my musings and observations with fellow hockey fans. One of the best parts of becoming a fan is having an instant brethren with like-minded people, and as I've said elsewhere on this blog, hockey fans are truly one of a kind.

That being said, I also love to hate on horrible things (obviously), which is also a fantastic part of being a fan. I love rivalries, I love hating people, and I love expressing my hate. My list of most-hated teams* goes like this:

1(a). Chicago Blackhawks.
1(b). Pittsburgh Penguins.
2. Anaheim Ducks.

It seriously took me 10 minutes to decide who nabs 1(a).

*I would include the Colorado Avalanche, but I'm not sure they really play hockey anymore. I think it might be more like sustained retching on the ice for 60 minutes, several times a week. It's hard say for sure, though.

So, that's the big, long story of how I became a Wings fan and why I started this blog. I'd love to hear from other fans (sure, even fans of horrible teams) how/why they became fans.

Oh, and one other thing: You might be wondering if I've ever been to an actual Wings game in person since I live 8 hours away. (Or, maybe you don't really give a shit, but I'm going to go ahead and tell you, anyway, since you've been so kind as to not "X" out of this window already.) The answer is yes. My boyfriend and I trekked to Detroit last February (and I use the word "trek" because it was most definitely arduous and ridiculous, but that's a story for another post) and watched the Wings take on the Minnesota Wild. We're actually traveling to Detroit again in December for a pair of games. On a scale of 1-10 of how excited I am, the answer is infinity.


  1. I think we need an ode to the Colorado Avalanche's uniform. That made my day.

  2. I know almost nothing about hockey (although I did go to a Dallas Stars preseason game last weekend!) and I still find this post hilariously entertaining. The comment about basketball players who can't make free throws is dead. fucking. on.

    Keep it up :).

  3. I'm glad to see a Wings fan blogging. Following the Wings in South Carolina is virtually impossible. I'll be counting on you to keep me in the know!

  4. hahahahahahahaha. Basketball players cannot make freethrows, thats a proven fact. Its also a proven fact that Colorado is terrible. At everything. Ever. I will never, ever, ever not hate them.

    We may live in West Virginia (or Reston, as some think) now, but our seats are DEFINATELY Center Ice, no thanks to Comcast.

    Nice post :)

  5. @ Maxie: Great idea. The first game against them is 10/17, so that'll be a good thing to include in my preparatory hating on the Avs.

    @ M: Thanks! Professional athletes who can't handle the basics of their job annoy the hell out of me. Hooray for you going to a Stars game. Did you have fun?

    @ Aubrey: Thanks for following. :) I'm glad to find another Wings fan on here. I know how hard it is to follow hockey when you live in an area that's not as hockey-obsessed as the Midwest/Northeast. Are you from Michigan originally?

    @ Brian: We need to make our own version of that Center Ice commercial, only I'm not going to complain about chowder or deep-dish pizza. I also thought about the Reston/WV thing when I wrote about the Omaha game in this post. Drunken hockey fans are the best ever.

  6. Yes, I'm from Detroit-area originally, but I've been in SC for 18 years. It is virutally impossible to watch pro Hockey in an area where the only coverage of the sport is during playoffs

  7. Ow...ow ow ow. Really? You hate mah boys that much? Ooooh, that pains me in my soul.

    I'm not one of "Detroit Sucks" yelling fans...does that make me ok?

  8. Aubrey, I hear you. People around here come out of the woodwork whenever the "local" teams are doing well during the playoffs (Pens/Caps), but you don't really hear much about it during the regular season.

    @ Dysfunction Junction: Thanks for not being obnoxious. You and Vince Vaughn can be my favorite Hawks' fans. But that's it; my limit is two.