My name is Ryan, but my friends call me Twig. I’ll be contributing to this fine blog regularly from now on. Some of you may be familiar with me based on the comment section, but to give further information and to introduce myself to those who don’t know me, I put together this little introduction post.
I was raised in Grand Haven, Michigan and lived there until I was 22. I joined the Army in 2003, put in 4 years at Fort Drum, New York, and then moved to Seattle, Washington. This was right when Michigan’s economy was starting to struggle, so it made no sense to come home then. Then Washington started feeling the strain, so Mrs. Twig and I moved to Texas. It’s hot down here and not many people care about hockey, but I have a job so that’s nice.
I started following the Red Wings in the early 90’s. “Yzerman” had been a household name my whole life, but I didn’t watch hockey until I started playing it. I played for a while on our slushy street one cold December evening, then went inside and found the Red Wings on TV. I was hooked. However, my first real taste of Red Wings hockey was a strong dose of heartbreak. Toronto scored in OT to knock us out of the playoffs and I had an empty feeling inside. We lost. No more Red Wings. The fire started burning. The next season was worse. Losing to San Jose in the first round and hearing the hockey analysts mention what an upset it was, I felt that they were mocking my team and mocking me for liking them.
The next year was no better. Getting swept my New Jersey for the Stanley Cup was unbelievable. Again, I felt sick hearing all the praise New Jersey was getting. I wanted that for our guys. 1996, I thought I’d finally get to see the Wings win the cup. They were nearly unbeatable and no way could they lose 4 games to one team. Then they did. So not only did the Wings lose, but they lost to a team that you and I all grew to hate. It was a terrible summer. Not many people talked about the Red Wings after that. Our team had been forgotten. Colorado, Philadelphia and other teams that were up and coming got all the attention. When we faced Colorado in the Conference Finals, I couldn’t eat or sleep. It’s one thing to lose, but something else completely to lose to a team and fan base that you hate. Now, I had seen the Wings play some outstanding hockey before that, but that series was a totally different animal. Not one player slacked off. Every chance they had to shoot, they shot. Everyone was finishing checks. Our superstar captain was blocking shots, for God’s sake!
Winning that series and then winning the Cup did me in for life. If I had just started following them in 1997, I probably wouldn’t be as hooked as I am now because I wouldn’t have felt the excruciating pain of losing.
I always liked to write, so I started my own Red Wings blog a few years ago. I enjoyed writing for it and analyzing games and predicting player performances, but I was alone. No one knew me or knew of my blog. I did get linked by a few other Red Wings blogs, this one included, but traffic never came. So I moved on. The next year, Paul Kukla put out the word that he was interested in taking on additional bloggers. I decided to email him and apply. He already had Chief covering the Red Wings, plus George Malik was on his way over there, so covering Red Wings hockey was out. He asked if I could blog about non-NHL hockey, like the junior leagues, European leagues and college. I decided to go for it, but in the end, I just couldn’t hack it. You have to love what you blog about and I didn’t love the AHL. So even though I finally had readers, I had to go.
When I was asked if I was interested in joining NOHS, it was an easy answer. For me, this is the big time. The big club called and they want me to play in the next game. Established readers, Red Wings hockey, photoshop… It’s all here. This is going to be a great year, friends.
Let’s go Red Wings!