I wasn't going to do this post... I still feel so many things... I use "we" when I talk about the Wings, because I identify with them. When they win, I win. When they lose, I lose. When they celebrate, I celebrate. When they suffer heartbreaking defeat, I feel it too. For me, it's not just a professional team that I watch for entertainment, it's a team made of up of people I like, respect, and identify with. That's great when when things are good, and it sucks when they're not. That's the trade off for the life I've chosen, the joy of the highs far outweigh the heartbreak of the lows.
Watching the player interviews was hard, because their sadness, disappointment, shock, and heartbreak was evident, and I didn't just see it, I felt it.... I still feel it. In my journey towards closure, I need to see the interviews, read the articles, and move past the sadness so that I can fully enjoy how proud I truly am of this team.
I guess I'll start at the beginning...
Shock, sadness and disappointment came right away, and for a few minutes I though I might actually be ok. Then I saw Jimmy skate over to Kronwall, who was knelt down on the ice, and try to console him. That's when I knew it wasn't going to be as easy as I had hoped.
In that emotional moment of shock and heartbreak, it's usually the goalie receiving solace, comfort, and encouragement from his teammates. Jimmy Howard is no mere goalie however, and his selfless character shone through when he skated over to Kronwall, bent down, put his arm around him, and said " You played well".
After game 6, Kronwall said "We win as a team, and we lose as a team", and in all the game 7 post game comments I heard from the players and coaches, nothing exemplified that better than what Kronwall and Jimmy said about each other after the loss.
"[Howard] has been so good for us, not only last year, this year," Kronwall said. "I don't think I've ever seen him this good. Unfortunately we weren't able to get the win for him."
"That says a lot about him as a person," Kronwall said of Howard's gesture after the goal. "Everybody wants to win in here, you don't make a mistake on purpose. But it's hard. Obviously, you don't want to be in that spot. Unfortunately, it went off me and went in and we're going home.
"I wish we could have won that series for [Howard]. He really deserved it."
"It's tough. How can you get upset at someone who is sacrificing their body out there, blocking shots?" Howard said. [Kronwall] has been huge for us all year and you know, he doesn't deserve that luck."
Feelings of emptiness and disappointment were felt by everyone.
"It’s really empty right now."
"You’re never happy when you’re done playing. We played a good game today, but it’s not good enough. We have to win 4. We won 3, they won 4, season over."
"We did a lot of good things to come back and force overtime. Not surprised, kind of fluke play that goes in.''
"It’s too early to talk about [growth of the team]. We will talk about that when we see you at the Joe."
Kronwall (This one was the hardest for me to watch)
"We didn’t do enough. You can talk however much you want about ‘we didn’t do that, we didn’t do that’ but at the end of the day we have to get goals… we weren’t able to get that."
How much solace do you take in the growth and progress this season?
"I think that’s something that will kind of settle in over these next few days… Right now it’s just an empty feeling. There’s a lot of younger guys that made huge strides this year, but right now it’s just….. It’s always tough when you get… when you’re in this spot."
Can you describe the moment when you lost a game 7 to the degree that you did tonight?
"It’s hard to put into words… I think you have to be a part of sports, be a part of something like this to really understand what it’s about. You win, and you move on and have a chance. You lose, and you go home and the season’s over. It’s…it’s….it’s tough to put into words. We did a lot of good things tonight…but we came up short."
"It’s just empty right now…"
"It’s something you never can get used to... You don’t want to get used to.... You want to have a chance to raise the Cup... It’s just empty right now."
"It’s just an unfortunate bounce. You can’t blame anyone on it really."
"I’m proud of the guys. We battled."
"We’re an extremely resilient team, we don’t’ go away quietly. Tonight we just kept going and going, it’s unfortunate the way it ended."
"I don’t know [what I'll take from the season] … It’s too soon. I’ll probably take a couple days to reflect on what I can get better on."
Well that's not so bad.. until you get to this gem from ESPN
Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard slowly packed the last of his goalie equipment into his bag following the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime win over Detroit in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals. He let out a long exhale, then got a pat on the back from Paul Boyer, the Red Wings' longtime head equipment manager.
Howard nodded toward his gear and turned to Boyer.
"Just drop them into Lake Michigan," Howard said.
"It’s kind of a shock right now. You’re so emotionally invested in that one shot, and it all comes to a screeching halt."
"Guys should be proud and disappointed."
Filppula played 88 seconds in what was possibly his last game as a Red Wings. He got a high ankle sprain when Andrew Shaw slewfooted him for sticking up for Henrik Zetterberg. What a shitty way to go out.
Twitter wasn't much better, though it wasn't too hard to handle, that is until I got to the last tweet by Jakub Kindl.
Thank you Wings fans for all your support. Was a pleasure playing at the Joe and can't wait to do it soon enough.Cya in a few months.— Jordin Tootoo (@Jtootoo22) May 30, 2013
Danny DeKeyser (@DeKeyser5) May 30, 2013
Tomas Tatar (@Trto90) May 30, 2013
although we lost today. thanks to all the @detroitredwings fans for making my first year special! enjoyed every second of it!— Damien Brunner (@damien_brunner) May 30, 2013
Such a tough way to lose. It was an eventful season but most importantly thanks to all the @detroitredwings fans for all the support! Best!— Cory Emmerton (@cemmer48) May 30, 2013
It hurts even more when you arethat close 😒— Jakub Kindl (@JKindl4) May 30, 2013
However, even in their moments of overwhelming disappointment and emptiness, our boys show character and class. Guys like Jimmy Howard, who took time to thank the fans and praise his team.
"First and foremost I’d just want to thank our fans back home for providing such great support for us all season. Throughout the playoffs they made it really enjoyable to play at home, and secondly, just thank the guys here for never giving up, constantly being resilient, and there were a lot of people that counted us down and out; saying that we couldn’t’ do it because we lost Nick, you know Stuie, we lost a lot of guys, but we had a lot of guys step up this year."
"Life’s about maximizing what you’ve got, and our group did this."
"We’re obviously disappointed in the outcome, I’m very proud of our guys. We had exceptional, exceptional leadership… our kids really played hard and we got better and better."
"[Howard] signed a big contract during the year and it didn't faze him one bit. He's an everyday-er who competes hard, he's really determined, and he likes winning."
Today is locker clean out day :( and seeing the players pack up and leave the Joe will make me sad.
Reports of who was injured have started to come out, and will continue to trickle out over the next few weeks. So far we have confirmation that:
- Cleary was playing with a second left shoulder separation and a fractured left finger (from the Winnik hit in game 5 against Anaheim).
- Kronwall has an "injured" shoulder from the Bickell hit in game 5, and also has an injured hand from the Anaheim series.
- Brunner was, according to Babcock, playing the series "real hurt here at the end" and I read somewhere that he could barely shoot the puck.
- Jimmy Howard was playing with a pulled hamstring that he received in the Anaheim series.
Valtteri Filppula has a high ankle sprain, is in a protective boot and was on crutches. He'll be in a cast for 2-3 weeks and hopes to be healed in 6-8 weeks.
- Mikael Samuelsson will probably need surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle.
There will no doubt be more reports of injuries coming out in the near future.
These guys aren't just players to me. They're people who experience the same emotions, same struggles, and same challenges as the rest of us. They just happen to be really really good at hockey too. That's what makes my hockey experience great, and also what makes it sometimes painful. Even as I write this post, watch and listen to more interviews, read more articles, and browse more pictures; I've moved forward perhaps just a little.
There are big things coming for the Red Wings, and difficult decisions as well, but I'm not ready to talk about those yet. My heart swells with pride for this team, who they are, who they became, and what they've done so far; but for me there's still the sharp pain of what could have been... Not really for me, but for each of the players who poured their hearts and souls out for each other; who never stopped believing in themselves or their teammates; who stuck together through thick and thin, ups and downs; no matter what came at them they gave everything they had. I didn't want them to win the Cup for my benefit, I wanted them to win it because they deserve it. I don't mean they were the best team in the league according to the stats. I mean that from a personal perspective, we have the best players in the world, players I love and respect not only for their hockey abilities, but because of the human beings they are. The players have earned my respect and admiration both on and off the ice, and I want them to win all the time.. damn it.
Throughout the season, Damien Brunner was a source of inspiration and optimism, even after a disappointing end to our season, Brunner provides inspiration for us once again. Helen St. James wrote an article that made me laugh and smile, despite myself. Please go read the whole thing, and in the meantime go ahead and try not to smile... I dare you.
"Just work hard, enjoy life," Brunner said. "You live only once, so you have to enjoy the time you have."
This was overheard by Bertuzzi who yelled, "that should be on T-shirt," and laughed.
Andersson said Brunner "is always smiling at the rink, outside the rink. He likes playing hockey and if you have a bad day, maybe you can look at him and get a smile on your face."
"It’s every day he comes in, smiling," Jonathan Ericsson said. "We’re like, ‘what’s up, Bruns? What’s so funny?’ He just laughs by himself.
I'm feeling better already. :)