The three or mebbe four of you Gentle Readers that are hockey fans prolly took notice of my bit in one of yesterday's posts about the Wings playin' at Tampa Bay last night. Well, I'm pleased to report the Beloved Wings took it to the Lightning in NO uncertain terms last evening, winning by a 6-2 margin. Stevie Y HAD to feel bad about that, no doubt. But it was most definitely a weird scene inside the hockey goldmine last night... and here's just a sample:
Come to think of it, there was a little bit of weird for all involved throughout the evening, beginning with an ovation for Yzerman himself, shown briefly on the LightningVision scoreboard, that seemed almost like a “Thank you” from longtime Detroit fans and bested anything in recent memory from the home crowd in appreciation.
Journey may have fabricated “South Detroit” in their overplayed anthem “Don’t Stop Believin’” but it sure seemed like that was a very real location for last night’s game – and the temporary mailing address for the St. Pete Times Forum.
A formidable sea of red is expected any time Detroit is in town but last night’s crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Red Wings. It wasn’t completely unreasonable to expect the goal horn to blare each time the Wings scored – not with the roar of the crowd that came along with each tally. At one point, there was an audible chorus of boos toward a Lightning logo flashed on the screen that the home fans were not able to drown out.
But bizarro-world truly came to life when the octopi began hitting the ice. Yes, Detroit’s time-honored tradition of tossing dead mollusks onto the playing surface to celebrate Red Wing successes apparently travels well too, as three octopuses made their way to ice level on Thursday. [Note: In researching for today’s piece, it has become clear that both octopi and octopuses are acceptable plural forms of octopus. Learn something new every day…]
All in good fun, one must suppose. Until, that is, a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning ice crew did his best Al Sobotka impersonation when cleaning up one of the fallen cephalopods, picking it up from the ice and twirling it over his head as he skated off, much to the delight of the invading, already frenzied Red Wing portion of the crowd and incensing Lightning fans and fellow employees alike.
Yup... I heard that bit about the Big Al imitation (I won't explain: if you're a Wings fan you geddit, if not... well, explaining would just take too long) while listening to the game last evening on My Very Expensive Radio, whereupon one of the play-by-play guys (a Detroiter) commented "that's not a career-enhancing move." Indeed.
But one should NOT be surprised. There's always a large contingent of Wings fans at each and every Dee-troit road game, thanks to the bad economy and emigration from Michigan for that, in part, but ONLY in part. The NFL's Dallas team (ptui! on several counts) may bill themselves as "America's Team," but it's the Wings who have a truly NATIONAL fan base, especially so among older Michigan expats. And we KNOW from whence we speak on THAT count. BTW... you Steelers (ptui!) fans can suck it in this space, too. Just sayin'.
This is gonna be the Year O' Cup Number Twelve. I feel it in my bones. Let's Go Red Wings!