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Published:May 12th, 2011 20:28 EST
The Latest Hockey Drama

The Latest Hockey Drama

By Michael Weidenhamer

I love hockey, but it can be heartbreaking, not to mention heart-attack inducing.  When you follow a certain team and you want them to win as much as possible, seeing them lose can be more heartbreaking than falling out of love in a romantic relationship.  I`m Michigan born and raised, so my hockey team is the Detroit Red Wings.  I know it`s not logical to think that one team can win every single year, but logic doesn`t really have a place in sports fandom.  Of course, I love the sanctity of the sport and I want to see every team play well and competitively, but I always root for the Wings to win the Stanley Cup.  If they don`t then it`s a damn shame. 

Tonight, the Red Wings are trying to accomplish something that few sports teams have ever done.  They are trying to win four straight games after losing the first three in a best-of-seven series against the San Jose Sharks.  This achievement has only happened three other times in hockey.  In 1942, when the Toronto Maple Leafs came back to win four straight against the Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals; In 1975, when the New York Islanders came back and won a second round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins; and just last year, when the Philadelphia Flyers shocked the Boston Bruins in the second round.  It`s so rare that it`s only happened once in baseball, when the Boston Red Sox came back and beat their hated rivals, the New York Yankees, in the 2004 American League Championship Series after being down three games to none.  It`s never happened in basketball.  This achievement takes real stamina and courage, and only the best can do it, so it`s fitting that the Red Wings are trying to do it. 

My love for hockey didn`t always involve heartbreak.  It started when I was twelve years old.  At that time I was going to a private Catholic middle school and my teacher was a fervent Red Wings fan.  During the playoffs that year, whenever there was a game on the same day as school, she would turn off the lights and have everyone participate in the saying of the rosary.  We went through every Hail Mary and Our Father until we were done, and then we`d go home and watch the games.  They ended up winning the Cup that year, with the help of such superstars as Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, Steve Yzerman, and one of the greatest goalies of all time, Dominik Hasek. 

The years went by and they didn`t have the same kind of success.  A string of first and second round losses left many wondering if they would ever meet Stanley again.    Finally, in 2008, as I was graduating high school, they made it to the Finals again and squared off against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  They triumphed in six games and life was good again!  They made it to the Finals again the next year, but the result was tragic. 

Enter the heartbreak.  In the 2009 Finals, the Wings again squared off with the Penguins.  The Penguins were hungry and looking for revenge.  The series went back and forth, needing a seventh game to decide who the winner would be.  I figured that this would be the ultimate test for the Red Wings dynasty.  Somehow, the Penguins won that seventh game and I felt lost.  Throughout that summer I kept thinking that even though I was having a good summer, it would be better if the Red Wings had won.  That feeling of satisfaction would have reigned over me all summer long.

Last year, the Wings only made it to the second round.  In that round they lost to the Sharks in five games and nobody knew what the future would hold.  Would they ever win another Cup in the next couple of years?  Or would they go through a drought for ten or twenty years?  There were many other questions up in the air. 

This season rolled around and the Wings did well for most of it.  They ended the regular season strong and steamrolled through the first round of the playoffs, sweeping the Phoenix Coyotes.  Then they met the Sharks again.  And just like last year, the Sharks won the first three games.  I was in despair.  What would happen now?  I figured this kind of comeback was too rare to happen two years in a row, and I resigned myself to the fact that I`d have to start looking forward to next year.  But the Red Wings wouldn`t go down without a fight.  They eked out a last minute win in Game 4.  They came back and won Game 5, a win that is still baffling sportswriters.  They mesmerized the crowd at Joe Louis Arena during Game 6, instilling hope in everyone, making them think that yes this can happen. 

Whatever happens tonight, at least I can be satisfied with the fact that the Detroit Red Wings didn`t go down without a fight.  If they lose, yes, I will be heartbroken about it.  If they win, I might just cry tears of happiness.  Hey, Hey, Hockeytown, indeed.