No this isn't me expecting a last game Wednesday.
I have been lucky enough to cheer for a team where every year was a competetive year. I arrived in Vancouver in 94 just after the riots and was very interested in this game called hockey. My cousin was watching the Canucks play the Wings and he was being all gooey about how this Canucks team was just one win away from winning the 'cup'. What 'cup'? The 'Stanley Cup'! The cup that caused the riots, he says. In the Philippines, we last took a stand and marched the streets, peacefully, for our rights. What is this cup that can cause a riot?
The wings won that day and my cousin was angry. I said to myself: 'I'm gonna cheer for those guys'. I don't want a team that caused riots!.
I go to school and I play hockey for the first time. I passed the puck to my goalie and i scored on my own net. My whole team was dejected but they said 'it's ok, we'll score back'. Although I scored another goal on my own net I remembered what it was like to play the game. I watched highlights on tsn and followed the wings religiously. NHL 91 was my very first video game. NHL 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 all followed.
I put my faith in the wings. I prayed for them. I cried for them and I trusted in them. Every success they had, I felt, was also my success. I had something to believe in.
96 was a major year for me and all wings fans because this was the Yzerman goal. I remember me sitting down in front of the TV then jumping uncontrollably. It was 'our year'. Finally after losing last year. Then we face the avs and draper gets hit. We lose the series.
I was still in grade school and had been bullied so I just went home, waited for wings highlights and got my taste of success. Then March arrives and mccarty pummels lemieux, scores the winning goal and exacts the full revenge. I felt a sense of euphoria knowing that there's always a next time. We win the cup despite being underdogs to the flyers. I watch vlad's crash video. I was dejected. Next year we play our hearts out after losing a key player and sweep washington. I see Stevie put the cup on vlad's lap and wheel him around while the whole team was behind him. I cried. I get teary eyed even now. They did something more than for themselves. I applied that in my life.
Mediocre years came but I still got to watch hall of fame players wear a wings jersey. Fedorov, larionov, coffey, ciccarelli, vernon, shanny, hull, robitaille, murphy, clark, cujo.
Then 02. Hasek takes us to the finals and during the year I watched Zata and Datsyuk play alongside Hull...i knew they'd be superstars. 08 and 09 come and last year.
I reflect back and realized that I've been very lucky. I watched hall of famers, loved the game and applied everything the wings did, to my life. I go through hard times and know there will be a next time. I go through good times and enjoy it cuz there might never be that chance again. I never regretted anything. Last year was when the last of my childhood heroes left. Lids and homer. I loved them both. Then I look back at this team that they built. They're young and inexperienced still. But, like I did, believed.
In a year that 29 teams would have used to tank and get first pick, we go to second round and take the best team to 7. I never once doubted. I prepared for the worst and always expected the best. It has been a joy to watch the new era carry that torch. In retrospect, we should have been all playing golf after the season. But this team made it possible for more palpatations and for wings fans everywhere to still believe.