Following Sara’s excellent post last week, round number two was written by Andrea Hedlund, a lovely Wings fan we had the pleasure of meeting at H2H.
With two minutes left in Game 5, I may or may not have been in the fetal position shaking, crying, clinging to a stuffed animal, and making ridiculous bargains to the hockey gods- like I’d never make fun of Lebda, Tuzzi, or Pookie again if a miracle could happen. Unfortunately, I was left jailsexed and alone on the floor. How in the hell did it ever get to this point?
Truth be told, I was an obliviously happy person back in October and early November. Here is my best kept secret secret: I wasn’t a real Red Wings fan until this season. I had always enjoyed hockey and very loosely followed the Red Wings, but that’s not being a fan. This year, though, with the powerful influence of my best friend (aka MauvaisGardien aka Leslie), that changed. It started with an epic roadtrip that included a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame and my first ever NHL/Red Wings game. As weird as it may sound, it wasn’t the game or seeing all the Stanley Cups or the interactive games that turned me into a fan- it was a jersey. Sure, all of the previous things helped, but it was a jersey that made everything click. And, no, it wasn’t even a Red Wings jersey. My die-hard love for hockey started the moment I saw the team Sweden jersey. You see, my great-grandparents on both sides of my family hail from Sweden and my grandfather even called himself ‘the Old Swede.’ That jersey made some connection deep inside of me and it’s been downhill for me ever since.
When I got back to New York, I immediately bought ice skates and started learning how to skate and play hockey. I also started watching the Red Wings religiously. In between those activities, Leslie started teaching me Red Wings history. And dar God there A LOT of it to learn. By December, I was hooked. By February, I had experienced the ups, downs, frustrations, heartbreaks, and celebrations of a true fan. By April, having experienced Herm to Hockeytown, I started to understand what it meant to be a Red Wings fan.
And now, despite feeling like shit from being jailsexed and left alone on the floor, I am going to choose to focus on the positive. I feel lucky because I was ushered into following the best organization. I would never want to follow anyone else. Nowhere else do hockey fans have communes and tin foil hats (or tin foil flash mobs!). Nowhere else would fans fly another fan across the world to see a game. Nowhere else would fans pay to bail out fellow comrades from jail after they were so unjustly put there for participating in traditions that are older than most NHL franchises. Only when you’re from Hockeytown.
I have survived my first season as a Red Wings fan. I don’t know about you, but despite the ups and downs, I am pretty damn excited to do it all over again next season. Next year is full of new possibilities. We never would have made it this far if it weren’t for Jimmy (Jimmah fucking RAAAAAAAAGH). Just imagine that kid next season and next playoffs. And think what our team can do if they have all season to build chemistry rather than fighting to stay alive after devastating injuries. Aside from that, I’m not even going to pretend to be an expect on the 2010-11 Red Wings… until Traverse City when I think we need to start a Red Wings Commune North… cap ou pas cap?
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Welcome to the fold. Being of Swedish descent, you obviously know that you picked the right team to cheer for. Also, well done on learning the game and learning about the team; that shows a commitment to being a true fan, and not some fly-by-night hanger-on that will only be around during the good times. Don't be like a Blackhawk fan.
I have found that being a Wing fan requires several things: thick skin to deal with the haters; a psychologist on call to deal with the roller coaster that is a Wing season; and lots of booze to celebrate the many victories that you will witness.
Awesome write-up, Andrea. I love that our Red Wings fans new to the fold take the time to actually learn about the history of the game. Speaks to the intelligence, class, and most of all, the jailsexiness of Red Wings fan nation.
Very cool. I'm sorry that the introduction to hockey was so traumatic for you, though. 🙂