If you have a minute, I'd like to tell you a story.
Once upon a time... I watched my first hockey game. (I know, I know.. odd way to start out, but bear with me!) It was not just any hockey game, but instead the race for the Stanley Cup in 1999. I wasn't very old (not that I am now), but something magic happened that night. The Dallas Stars were to win their first cup, and my curiosity in a sport I'd never seen was sparked.
Before you get confused, I feel I need to explain myself. "Why on earth is he talking about the Stars???", you might ask. You see, I grew up in northwest Arkansas where the only hockey I ever saw were the Stars. No one I knew watched hockey. In fact, I seemed to be the only one. One guy who really caught my eye despite my lack of knowledge was Mike Modano. The guy seemed like he could do it all. He was steady, he was solid, and he scored when it was needed. For a kid in the middle of rural Arkansas who knew nothing about hockey, he was a hockey hero. My father bought me a Mike Modano jersey for Christmas the next year. So happy was he that I was interested in a sport that he even got my SISTER a Brett Hull jersey to go along with mine. Kinda strange, but it seemed cool at the time. Unfortunately, it would be some time before I watched another hockey game.
Move forward almost 10 years... I am in college and to Hockeytown, USA to get a design degree. I catch another game on tv...it's another team I've seen several times, but never caught a full game. They too are battling for a cup. The team is the Redwings and the year is 2008. I caught almost every finals game and watched Ozzy raise that beautiful trophy.
The following year was an odd one. I wanted to learn more about hockey and watch the wings, but lack of a job really hampered my efforts. I spent most of that season trying to keep a job in this strange state. However, I did once again catch the tail end of the season. Another hockey player caught my eye.. we even shared a last name! Could we be related? I suppose anything is possible, but boy did I want that jersey. The Wings went on to bow out of the playoff series early to some punks from San Jose... no cup, but still lots of pride.
This year things have looked much better. My current job has really worked out well. I heard a hockey name from my past was coming to Detroit.... Modano. So, I decided to just jump in again and really devote some time. I watched so much hockey this year (from the RedWings to the Devils... as hard as that is for me to say). I even got to go downtown to watch my first live NHL game.(Saw Lidstrom's hat trick in person!) I've learned the rules more, bought a few NHL games to help me understand more of the play, and started to read tons of info on the sport. The fire has just continued to be stoked inside me.
I liked the RedWings in 08 when I saw them win the cup, appreciated them when I saw Jimmy help get them into the playoffs, and now love them as they try to pull together through a rough couple months of injuries and poor showings. But, the greatness is still there... and that Winged Wheel just keeps rolling! I LOVE IT!
I guess I'm writing this in order to introduce myself to all those other Wingers out there. Having immersed myself in Hockeytown I hope to write a bit on WIIM, but didn't feel comfortable without sharing MY hockey story. No, I haven't played hockey (only soccer). No, I'm no expert on hockey (won't ever claim to be). And, NO I've not watched every game for the past 10 years. But, I'd like to think I could help contribute a bit here and there with comments from an outsider's perspective (I still feel like one at least) as well as info from here in Detroit. Hope all of you enjoy my writing, and I look forward to hearing from everyone.
A Winged Wheeler for Life,