Ah to be a Red Wings fan. To be a member of the Order, and belong to one of the most despised sub-cultures on the planet. Hated in the hockey world like Yankees fans in baseball, Cowboys fans in the NFL, Notre Dame fans in the NCAA level and loving every damn minute of it.
I always look to our undying spirit yet unreasonably high expectations as a function of the sustained success we have enjoyed over the past 20 years. A score of consecutive playoff appearances, where 1 score is equal to 1 Nicklas Lidstrom playing career.
It has also been pointed out that these expectations to win make us bratty, arrogant, and the reward of consistent success has given us an entitlement complex. Sure has. But like I say, we love every damn minute of it.
Things are different this season. We are not the powerhouse we used to be, we have seen declining defensive statistics in Nick’s latter years take off with his retirement. Offensively, we cannot seem to make people pay for taking dumb penalties against us the way we used to. The Big Red Machine is human afterall, it seems, and vulnerable. And we are scared.
And it is coming out, showing itself in strange forms I never expected to see from this fanbase. People calling this team an “embarrassment” after the CBJ 4-2 loss immediately following the big win against the Blues. I even spoke out during the crapfest that was the Calgary game, remarking that Kyle Quincey on the point for our PP was such a bad fit, I wouldn’t mind seeing a “Hudler-Sammuelsson human centipede thing back there” because it seemed funny to me at the time and I was very, very pissed off. Though, if you think about it, a centipede that is difficult to knock off the puck with Sammy’s machine gun fire shooting style and Happy’s soft hands may not be such a bad idea after all. Look into that, Science.
Point is I don’t know if it is the Lockout, Nick’s retiring or Sammy’s return, but Red Wings fans are different this year. Much different. And it feels not quite right. I know for me the Lockout was the biggest influence in my behavior. I liken it to being jilted by a selfish lover, only to have them return and say “oh thanks for supporting me still, you mean the world to me and hey I need your money” and me responding with “I’d rather have Samuelsson back there.” Sounds odd. I know.
The 2013 Detroit Red Wings certainly are not the Red Wings I grew up with, but I think the fans have changed more than the team. And though I could get on my soapbox and blast little Gary about it all damn day I would rather ask if anyone else has noticed this change. And does anyone think it will go away next season when the Lockout isn’t quite so fresh in our minds? Or is it the type of ailment – a like that which so many Detroit fans suffer – only winning can cure?