Well. Here we are. The playoffs are right around the corner, and for a generation of fans this is the first time in their lives that the Wings won’t be in it. Sure we’ve suffered our share of early exits, but we’ve always been there, so what do you do with your April now?
On the outside looking in - to invest or not invest?
You still want to watch the playoffs? Great! But how? There are so many teams to choose from and no opportunity for “well, if they eliminate us then they better win the Cup” fandom. Allow me to offer you a positive, negative, and neutral solution to your bandwagon selection.
Sometimes there is a Plan B
So the Red Wings are out, but you’ve been seeing a team on the side and they are in. For the out-of-stater’s, maybe it’s your local team. Maybe you pick someone out of a hat. Maybe you pick the underdog. Maybe you’re trying to impress with a perfect bracket. There are plenty of interesting narratives to hitch your wagon to, but if you are going to cheer for a team on the Permanent Grudge List, keep it to yourself.
Let the hate flow
Speaking of the Permanent Grudge List, we all have teams we hate. Some teams we only hate when we play them, some teams we hate purely for business reasons, but then there are the special teams. The teams that make your lip curl every time you spot someone wearing their gear, that make you wonder if you could get away with filling their truck with peeps and loose glitter because they have an enemy window sticker (do not do this).
Hate-watch the playoffs and cheer for the embarrassment of your enemies, but I caution against attacking individual fans. Keep it fun. If words fail, I’ve got your back with hockey memes and Zetterberg faces.
Enjoy your free neutron status
Be neutral. Sit back and enjoy the ride, but be warned - the novelty may wear off. You may find yourself suddenly overcome by a wave of bitterness and jealousy. You’ll think, “I should be the one freaking out and panicking, completely on edge for days at a time, why am I sitting here half-heartedly watching a Game 2 while debating popcorn toppings on reddit?”
If you start to break down, I refer you to any of the other options in this guide to gain stability.
Raise a glass
It’s been a bad season. We had to say goodbye to Gordie Howe and Mr. Ilitch, we have to say goodbye to the playoff streak, we have to say goodbye to the Joe, and we’ve had to watch dozens of interviews with #DepressedZetterberg. Maybe before you can move on, to either watch the playoffs or live your offseason life, you need closure.
Arrange one final meet-up of your crew and toast to the end of an era and to new beginnings, reminisce about the shining moments of the season that were buried by the many defeats, fold the final boxscore into a paper boat and send it out to sea - whatever it takes for you to close the book on this season.
If you really only care about the Red Wings and tend to tune out when they’re out, that’s ok, there is plenty for you to do with your newly liberated schedule as you catch a playoff game here and there.
Introduce yourself to your family and friends. They have likely become acquainted with the ghoulish, shrieking figure that haunts the living room, local bars, etc. And they will be relieved to see that the paranormal activity ends earlier than usual this year so they can start using the good TV again.
You can’t jump back into offseason life all at once, especially when you aren’t used to the early spring climate and a consistent bedtime. Have a social dinner that does not consist of you rapidly shoveling food in your mouth while checking Twitter for last minute lineup changes, grunting during pauses in conversation like you’ve actually been listening, and then bolting from the table mid-sentence for puck drop faster than AA on a breakaway.
There are years that ask questions and years that answer
Offseason? There’s no such thing. There is only time without new Red Wings hockey during which you can research, analyze, and discuss past and future Red Wings hockey.
Break out the crystal ball and tea leaves
Get a head start on draft speculation. We’ve got draft picks this year, what do we do with them? Who could we get? What do we need? What do you think we’ll actually do instead of what we need to do?
Scream into the void
Not into drafts? Well, we’ve still got plenty of questions to ponder with the guys we have now. You could spend all day speculating on Kronwall alone! What went wrong this year? Is a player in a slump or in a downward spiral? What would proper utilization of our players really look like?
Remember the good times
Watch highlights! Pick a player, pick a season, pick an event, just start somewhere and let autoplay work its magic. Make sure you have 2-3 days of rations with you before you click play.
Turn to the church...of baseball
Hello friend, do you have a moment to talk about the Detroit Tigers? Now you’ve probably heard about how baseball is slow and boring, and ok maybe sometimes it is, but then Brad Ausmus strips off his sweatshirt and throws it on the plate or Ian Kinsler starts yelling and it’s all worth it. Baseball has all the convenience of starting in the spring plus the added bonus of ending in the fall!
Do you miss unnecessarily heated arguments about rules? We’ve got those! You think people arguing about ‘puck over the glass’ penalties is good, wait until you hear arguments about using a designated hitter vs. making the pitcher bat! And if you enjoy insulting officiating, you’ve come to the right place.
You should also know that in baseball overtime goes on forever, no deciding games with a home run derby!
Defeat may prove to have been the only path to resurrection, despite its ugliness.
It’s not fun being out of the playoffs, but we have the pieces to bounce back. It’s our time to restock, recharge, rebuild, and shake off the burden of The Streak. We start a new chapter in Red Wings history next season, and there’s plenty to talk about between now and then.
So, enjoy the playoffs if you choose to watch, enjoy your free time if you don’t, but whatever you do, don’t stop believing!