As we look back at 2012 we take a look at our best (and worst) moments of the year.
Best: My best hockey memory from the year happened way too early in 2012, but it still ruled. It was the weekend of January 7th and 8th. My Wing-Nut sister and I flew up to Chicago for the weekend to hang out with Graham, meet some better-than-decent Blackhawks fans (Including Forklift from Hockeenight), and catch the Jan. 8th Wings game against the Blackhawks with chicagowingsfreak! and Dan (@cptnshnr4). We got there early enough to grab some excellent standing-room-only space (near one of the beer vendors) and got to flip a bunch of shit on the jerkoffs who were taunting us after the Hawks took a 2-0 lead less than 5 minutes into the game. The Wings clawed back into it and Pavel Datsyuk won it in overtime. For somebody who has to travel a fair distance to get to a hockey city (and even farther to get to a good one), the weekend couldn't have gone better.
Worst: The worst memory of this year isn't exactly one I can pinpoint, but it was quite a sour bookend to a year that got off to such a good start. While the entirety of the lockout has annoyed, frustrated, confused, and saddened me, one particular thought that crept in around mid-November and took hold after the group of "moderate" owners was set for the early December meetings with players: Mike Ilitch supports the lockout. It's not like this was such a huge surprise after the team voted in September to have one and then Devellano made his infamous "cattle" comment, but the longer it's gone on, the more it's been the man himself responsible, and that just sucks.
Best: I'm tempted to go with JJ's choice because that was a phenomenal weekend punctuated with a Wings win that left Ed Olczyk audibly frustrated.
However, for me the best hockey memory of 2012 was a brief one but yielded a glimpse of what could be. In the middle of the season, injuries had become a large factor in the Wings' quest for another division title. Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom missed significant amounts of time, and Jimmy Howard was also sidelined for a few games. The Wings were forced to use call-ups from Grand Rapids, and that gave us our first look at Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist. Both players ended up with 7 points in their short time with the Wings (Smith in 14 games, Nyquist in 18), and it was a breath of fresh air to see some players who represented the future in the lineup and not looking out of place. Overall this last season was a tough one, but knowing that the Wings have 2 players who are going to be contributors and leaders of the next generation was nice to see.
The worst memory was after Game 5 against Nashville. The end of the season is always a sad day for me, but this year not only did the Wings not look good in their series against the Predators, they were the first team to get eliminated from the playoffs, an indignity not normally felt in these parts. I had a feeling all season that the Wings were not as good as I wanted them to be, and their series against Nashville seemed to confirm my suspicions. To see the Red Wings season end in April was a very bitter pill to swallow, something I still haven't quite gotten over.
Best: My best hockey memory of 2012 was undoubtedly when the Wings capped off their 23-game home win streak. It was something that had never been done before and for it to be my dear Wings who broke the record was something to cheer about. It also marked the pinochle of the Wings season, a time when the Wings were front runners for yet another cup. Although we all know how that turned out. It was even more impressive by the massive support that Wings fans showed during all of those home games that made the accomplishment even more sweet. Although I doubt we will see a run quite like this in the near future, I do believe that the Wings, backed by their great crowd, would be the top candidate to break their own record.
Worst: To me quite a few bad memories resonate from this past year but the one that sticks out is no doubt the day the Lidström finally retired. Nicklas Lidström has since the day I was born been a member of the Detroit Red Wings and to finally face the inevitability of him retiring isn't easy. Up until the retirement was official I kept hope that the press conference was merely a grandiose way for him to say that he was returning although I knew deep inside that the end was nearing. After I had finished watching the press conference, I felt like a part of me had left. It would take a few weeks for me to fully cope with the reality that Nick was no longer a Wing.
Best: Brendan Smith's NHL debut and first career NHL goal and fight. He made Andrew Shaw is own personal b*tch #ShawFacts.
Worst: Red Wings signing Mikael Samuelsson. They lose out on Ryan Suter and decide the best course of action is to sign an old retread that can it the broad side of a barn door. Awesome.
Have a great new year, whatever 2013 has in store for you!