TUP's Red Wings Correspondent Checks In
(Ed note: My buddy Chris is a fan of the Detroit Redwings, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Braves, and, oh yes, the Sacramento Kings. Here are his two cents on last night's Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup championship.)
Thoughts from a Red Wings fanatic
Well it happened. The funny part is I'm nowhere near as upset as I thought I would be. I think the emotionless ending helped dampen my disappointment a bit. I almost laughed out loud when it ended, because no one except Kane knew what had just happened, and the usual Doc Emrick post-goal outburst was nowhere to be found. I don't know how cheated you can feel as a fan if you've just won the cup, but if I was a Hawks fan, part of me would have been a little pissed. (Super long side note: Doc Emrick and Gary Thorne are to hockey what Marv Albert and Kevin Harlan are to basketball, irreplaceable, and I'm still tearing at my hair trying to figure out who let Jeff Van Gundy call the NBA Finals. On that note, I've also decided that ABC and NBC are the ultimate cock blockers in sports broadcasting. Notice how TNT and Versus do all of the work, carrying almost every game for the first three rounds, and then ABC and NBC play the "major network card," swoop in, and swagger-jack the respective finals? The only difference is at least NBC retains Emrick while the basketball enthusiasts have to sit through Marc Jackson's musings...but I digress.)
As a Red Wings fan, I had myself convinced that I hated the Blackhawks, but reflecting on it now, I'm not so sure. I don't really have anything against any of the players or the coaches. I respect Toews because he's a 22-year-old captain, Byfuglien reminds me of Franzen, Niemi stepped it up big in the playoffs, and their non-superstars really seemed to be the backbone of the team. The two most intriguing people though are Kane and Hossa. I used to not like Kane, and heck, I'm not sure many Blackhawks fans liked him that much, either. But then the Olympics happened and I had to root for him, and the performance he put on against Canada really put me past the point of no return. I like to not be a hypocritical fan if I can help it, so now I'm neutral instead of spiteful. And then there's Hossa. I like Hossa and I'm happy that he's got a Cup. He definitely underperformed in both prior Stanley Cup finals, but the only stupid thing about Hossa is that Penguins fans still give him shit about leaving them for the Red Wings. They conveniently forget he played all of like 20 regular season games for them after being traded in-season from the Senators, so it's not like he was one of their own. And while the move to Chicago was definitely more contractually-influenced than the move to Detroit, I still legitimately believe he was looking for the best chance to win not only now, but for the future as well, and how can you not respect that?
I also feel like our two teams haven't had that much of a rivalry until just now. I know they're in the same division, and that they were both original 6's, but a major part of me compares this match up to something like Packers/Lions. Same division and all, and not to toot my teams respective horns, but we've kind of been beating up on the Lions and Black Hawks for the last 15 years, so how much of a "rivalry" is it really?
I guess my main issue here is mostly with the fans. I know this point has been beaten to death and maybe overstated, but in all seriousness, 50% of the Blackhawk "fans" that I encounter didn't even follow the sport of hockey until last year, and another 45% didn't start following until these playoffs started. I know it's easy for me to say because the Wings have made the playoffs for 20 straight years, but the Hawks 'claiming' has gotten pretty ridiculous. If you can't tell me what "icing the puck" means, then you need to return that $100 jersey you just bought and shut the fuck up. But whatever, I guess if it gets people more interested in the sport of hockey out here in Iowa, then that's a good thing, because it's such a great sport and really deserves a bigger fan base than it has. I'm just concerned about the inevitable cloud of smug from the back of the bandwagon, and the 800 pro-hawks Facebook status updates from people who can't even pronounce Toews' last name correctly.
But I know the emotional roller coaster of the Stanley Cup Finals and how difficult it is to actually win the title. My team has been great for nearly 20 years now and we've still only had a 20% success rate. So I guess I'm happy for the real fans, and the fans who are old enough to have been around the last time the Hawks won the Cup and haven't had a reason to celebrate since. So congratulations to them, and I actually look forward to a real rivalry from now on. But the Hawks are an exception to the rule, so don't ever expect me to acknowledge any accomplishments by the Bears or Cubs, because there is NOTHING good about either of those franchises. And on that note, only four more months until the 2010-2011 season starts! Go Wings!
Chris Sorrell is a University of Iowa graduate, Iowa City native, and the proprietor of Thug Life Enterprises. Follow him at his brand spanking new Twitter @cjsorrell.