Monday, May 18, 2009

Along For the Ride

As you might expect, Gentle Reader, I’m doing a lot of reading about these hockey playoffs. And, in so doing, I came across this little gem by Bucky Gleason in the Buffalo (NY) News. Excerpts:
DETROITBuffalo has its flaws with its inability to get routine projects completed, with its politics and its economy, with its shrinking population and sports teams that positively break your heart. But no matter how bad things get back home, it’s heaven compared to Detroit.
Motown was a depressing place long before the auto industry began crumbling, and it’s only getting worse. Just the other day, General Motors announced it was chopping 1,100 dealerships across the United States. People who spent their lives making an honest, middle-class living are now struggling to put food on the table.
Fortunately, the hard-working people here can take comfort knowing Joe Louis Arena is just down the street from GM’s headquarters. The Red Wings provide an opportunity for people to escape from the stress that comes with the daily grind. Every few days, they can rally behind the best hockey team in the league.
The world outside the arena is a mess, but the Red Wings keep motoring. They beat the Blackhawks, 5-2, in Game One of the Western Conference finals and made it look easy.
Nobody is better than Detroit at its best. The Wings aren’t a machine, but a symphony, an art form to be appreciated. The Joe has sold out all seven postseason games. It shouldn’t be news in Hockeytown, but it says plenty about a fan base that was forced into becoming very judicious with its money.
The rest of the piece is pretty much the same ol’, same ol’ about how Detroit systematically dismantled those YoungHawks yesterday afternoon… but it IS good reading. The larger point, though, about how the Wings are raising Detroit’s morale is well-taken, and it’s always been that way. Detroiters love their Red Wings.
I was living in Dee-troit the first time the Wings made a serious run at The Cup (in the modern era) back in 1995 and things weren’t so hot in the city, even then. But the Wings made us ALL smile, fan and non-fan alike*. It seemed like every third car you saw on the road had a Red Wings flag flying from its antenna or stuck on one of those window frame mini-flag-poles. And you can’t BEGIN to imagine how crushed we were when the New Jersey Trapping Devils swept the Wings in the finals that year. But… it was a wonderful run while it lasted and the Wings came back two years later to win back-to-back Cups. I was living in Rochester, NY by that time… and I was seriously upset that I wasn’t still in Detroit to celebrate those wins! In a proper manner, that is. Lord knows I most certainly DID celebrate.
Speaking of 1995… we beat the Blackhawks 4-1 in the Conference Finals that year. Hmmm.
*I could talk about the Pistons during that time frame, as well. But I won’t.
(photo: The Joe, with a part of downtown Detroit in the background, from hockey,


  1. It is amazing what a winning sports team can do for morale.

  2. Lou: You are SO right, especially about Detroit. It's pretty danged bad there now... and I know because my friends there tell me so.

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