Pittsburgh demonstrated why they made it to the Stanley Cup Finals — a great team, a lot of young talent including a goalie who already knows how to stand on his head, but the Red Wings would not be denied this year.

And Detroit (the city) behaved itself afterward.



  1. When they (again!) showed the guy pulling the cup out of the case with about two minutes to go, I couldn’t help wondering if it was going to jinx Detroit a second time. And that last play with the puck bouncing behind the goalies with a second or two to go. I was trying to watch two games at once which made it even more of an adrenaline overload. I’m a half season ticket holder for the Chicago Wolves (AHL) and so the evening was sort of surreal. The Wolves were playing the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins for the third game of the Calder Cup (Wolves started the evening up 2 games to nothing in a 2-3-2 playoff series, Wolves with home ice advantage, but having to play three in a row in Scranton) at more or less the same time as the Redwings/Penguins game. Fortunately the game times were half an hour different, and we were able to see most of both games. Last night’s Stanley Cup game was good, but the Monday night was amazing – did you see that one? We stayed up for it, and as a hockey fan of more than 30 years I have to say that that was one of the best games I have ever seen. The other thing I noticed is that the NHL is really better/faster/bigger. Better passing, faster skating, better play generally. I love watching the Wolves, and they are a very good team, but the difference is really remarkable in the level of play.


    1. Yeah, I stayed up on Monday, too. What you need to know about the Wings is… they’re the best in the world, as a whole. They may not win every year, but they’re the most consistent, year after year. At least since 1992 or so — 16 straight years in the playoffs. Best in the business. That comes from the top of the organization on down. There are quite a few who believe the lockout and the salary cap were a direct response by the league to the Wings payroll after the 2002 Cup win. What the Wings then did was nothing short of amazing: their scouts went to work finding under-the-radar junior players — or more correctly kept doing that — and that’s how they got Holmstrom, Datysuk, Zetterberg, Kronwall, Hudler… all late-round draft picks, and Datysuk and Zetterberg are arguably the best forwards in the game now. Anywhere. Couple that with some great free-agent bargains, like Dearborn-native Brian Rafalsky (who took a pay cut to play for his hometown team), one-time Wings draft pick Dallas Drake (another one who “came home”), and yes, Chris Osgood (who I think would’ve played for the Wings for free), mix with a core — 5 players, including late-returning Darren McCarty, who were on the ’96-97, ’97-98, and ’01-02 Cup-winning teams — a family atmosphere, and The Perfect Human, Niklas Lindstrom, as Captain… look out. I wasn’t sure about Babcock as coach at first — he was the coach of the hated Ducks (not as hated as the Avs, but close), but he’s proven to be the right guy, too. Nobody’s gonna be Scotty Bowman, but Scotty thought Babcock was the right guy in need of the right bench. Yzerman, I suspect had a big hand in picking Nick to be his successor as Captain. Very similar leadership qualities: not a big voice, but a huge example. Mr. Steady. And these guys are so totally non-pretentious when you encounter them around town. Quite a contrast to some (not all, just some) of the hot-shot NBA, MLB, and even NFL guys here locally (and the Lions have no cause for swagger on or off the field). Detroit loves its Wings. Thankfully, the Wings love the town right back. If I had a young ‘un playing hockey, I’d hold up these guys as an example of how to do it right, on the ice and off. In a day were more and more sports heros are proving tainted, the Wings are the real deal.


  2. At least that’s been my experience. I don’t know that I’d completely agree with your assessment of the Wings as completely saintly, but I agree they are a great team with a healthy attitude overall. Mostly. . . it so happens that the only Wings game I’ve attended on their home ice was Federov’s first game after however long it was that he was out in 97-98. The place was a madhouse, and we were sitting waaaay up in the corner. Also saw a University of Michigan game – I think on that trip – our son was in more than one hockey tournament in Detroit. Started watching hockey in college when we were young marrieds with no money and the Hampton Gulls (southern hockey league) had season tickets for something like $2 per game for the first ticket and a $1 for the second. And that was before arena food became incredibly over priced. We moved back to DC just in time for the first few seasons of the Washington Capitals and they had a guaranteed win night – if they didn’t win you got a free ticket to another game. That was the year they lost something like 50 games. But overall, I’ll agree the Wings are a class act. And it was a beautiful couple of games.


    1. Hell, nobody’s completely saintly, even the saints. 🙂 The Wings have had their designated enforcers — Bertuzzi, Aaron Downey this year, Darren McCarty is well-known to take care of opponents who run his high-skilled teammates (especially Draper and Osgood). In one of Downey’s first games as a Wing this year, someone ran the goalie (I can’t remember if it was Hasek or Osgood that night) hard, and on the next shift, Downey damn near checked the guy THROUGH the boards — a clean hit, but the intent was crystal-clear. Darren McCarty has fought some pretty bad demons, but he seems to have ’em licked now. And who picked him up and said “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!”? Kris Draper, his Grind Line-mate. Others — including other teammates, his ex-wife, as well as Wings GM Ken Holland — also stepped up to support him. No babying: he had to get clean, stay clean, and get into NHL shape or he wouldn’t be back. That Darren did so is a testament to how much he wanted to be a Wing again, and more importantly, how much he didn’t want to let down those who believed in him and stuck their necks out for him. He’s a good guy who got into the whole rock-star thing (he fronted a band called Grinder), and that ate him alive. Now? I don’t think there’s a bartender or food server in Metro Detroit who’d serve him a drink — not that he’s likely to ask. He seemed more interested in spraying the champagne than drinking it Wednesday night. McCarty’s first game back as a Wing? Never let it be said that Mike Babcock is without both a sense of humor and an understanding of the team he inherited: he started the game with the old Grind Line of McCarty, Draper, Maltby. The Joe went CRAZY. Standing ovation, enough that the ref delayed dropping the puck for a minute or so. Before McCarty, there was Bob Probert, who used to live across the lake from us. Bob had some drug problems that at one point led to him being a scratch on Canadian road trips because he wouldn’t be let back across the border into the US if he left. Probert’s on-ice rep was “enforcer” or “thug” depending on if he was on your team or the other guy’s team, but we’d see him around town and he was always very polite and a humble kinda guy. I guess over the last 15-20 years, the club has very carefully cultivated a family atmosphere, and it shows — look at how many skilled veterans have taken pay cuts to come play for Detroit since the salary cap hit. Besides being a Cup contender, it’s just a nice place to be.


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