Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In Which I Show Some Love, and Some Hate...

In lieu of reporting any actual news, I've decided to put a little more of myself out there.

For starters, my hockey fandom began one day during the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals. I was 9. My dad had been closely following the Wings playoff run, but for some reason that probably made sense to my little mind, I had refused to join him in watching the games. You might chalk that up to me being a girl, but I always sat and watched Tigers games, and I'm told that I even enjoyed the Lions at one (very sad) point in my life. Finally, my dad sat me down on the couch and told me that I HAD to watch one whole game with him. After that, if I didn't like it, I never had to watch another game in my life. On the other hand, if I did like it, I'd probably be thanking him for a long time. I made the deal with him, and over the course of those 60 minutes, I fell in love. I didn't know a thing about what I was watching, but it amazed me. And from that day on, I was hooked. The Wings went on to lose that series, but it didn't matter to me. It was the beginning of the single greatest defining obsession in my life. There are moments (like when I have fits because real-life commitments prevent me from watching games) when I'm sure my dad regrets that fateful day, but most of the time I think he's secretly glad that he raised a daughter who he can intelligently talk sports with and not some prissy little princess.

Anyway, back to the present. My current player obsession centers around Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. (While I'm on the subject, I'm beyond thrilled to see them reunited. I had only been yelling that suggestion at my TV for three games before it finally happened.) They have exactly the kind of puck movement that first dazzled me in the days of the Russian Five. Coincidentally, they also account for the name of my blog. "Snipe Snipe" would be Zetterberg (If you don't know where this came from, you're probably not a die-hard enough fan to be reading hockey blogs.), and Datsyuk is Mr. Dangle Dangle himself. I actually wanted to put the Dangle before the Snipe because, theoretically, dangling would precede sniping (and also because Datsyuk makes me laugh nearly every time he speaks), but the cadence of "Dangle Dangle, Snipe Snipe" reminded me too much of the "Veggie Veggie, Fruit Fruit" song from that old Disney World show. It's also important to note that in moments of weakness I may refer to Zetterberg as "Hockey Boyfriend." I mean this in the least Puck-Bunnyish way possible, of course. I've always said that one of the benefits of being a female sports fan is getting to admire the men, especially when they're sweaty and wearing eye-black (Oh Winter Classic, how I miss you.).

I also have a great affection for Drapes and Maltby, dating back to their Grind Line days. Granted, neither one of them had a particularly good year, but I'm a loyal sort, and I can't forget the great joy that they brought me as a child.

My next player of note is Chris Osgood. I have always been an Ozzie supporter, even when he got run out of town by Dominik Hasek. That man takes a lot of crap, and most of it is undeserved. All year long, I found myself defending him, despite his god-awful stats. If the Wings had decided to actually play defense for any significant portion of the season, he'd have been riding high all year. All you have to do is look at the man's numbers over his career, especially in the playoffs. All the guy does is win hockey games. I don't want to hear about being buoyed by having a talented team in front of him. That only adds to the pressure. And one thing's certain: when the pressure is on, so is Chris Osgood. 'Nuff said.

I also have to mention Jiri Hudler. This man never ceases to amuse me. Every time I see him on screen, it makes me laugh. I'm not even entirely sure why. You know how there are certain people who you just want to hug? Well, he's one of them. I mean this, of course, in an entirely non-sexual way. He just always looks like he's having fun, and...I'm not really sure how to describe it. I feel the same way about Curtis Granderson. Plus, he's like 5'2 in skates, but he'll still mix it up with anyone. That may actually be an advantage against a guy like Chris Pronger.You.Goon, because he might be able to fly below elbow range.

It's also fairly obvious that I have a deep-seated hatred for Chris Pronger.You.Goon (helpfully abbreviated PYG. Please pronounce this like "pig." I think it's fitting.) Since I have a great fondness for delicious irony, one of my favorite hockey moments of all time was when PYG tried to run Stevie Y in the playoffs a few years back and ended up busting his own ACL. You could, quite literally, taste the irony in the air.

Since I'm on the subject of players that I dislike, I feel like I should mention my semi-irrational hatred of Sidney Crosby, or, as I like to call him, Gary Bettman's Little Buddy. I know it's fairly cliche for non-Pittsburg fans to hate Crosby, but I felt that way before it was cool. Ever since his name first came on my radar during the lockout year (AKA the worst year of my life), I was annoyed by him. The fact that he was treated like the second coming of Wayne Gretzky before even playing an NHL game really pissed me off. I grew up watching Wings late-round draft picks who came into their own based only on hard work and skill be ignored by the NHL marketing machine, and here was this kid I'd never seen before sucking up all of the media attention. I don't like people who get things handed to them on a platter. Much to my consternation, he turned out to be a pretty good player. Not the best, mind you, but pretty darn good, nonetheless. What I really hate is having his stupid Napoleon Dynamite face shoved down my throat by the NHL media. It quite literally makes me gag. And what's worse is that it's no good for the game. The real hockey fans see through the marketing and nothing gets us all more riled up bringing up the Little Buddy's name in a crowded sports bar. If the NHL would just acknowledge the existence of star players not named Crosby or Ovechkin (like say, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Kane, Toews, Getzlaf, Nash, just to name a few), they would have a much less divisive marketing campaign. Instead, I'm forced to watch that stupid commercial where the Penguins fan has his TV in a penalty box that apparently has all three Pens highlights from the Finals playing on a continuous loop. Watching that commercial, the casual fan probably wouldn't realize that it was, in fact, the Wings who were drinking from Lord Stanley's Cup last year.

Another thing that still has me riled up is that God-awful call from the end of Game 3. You know which one I'm talking about. I know I should've moved on by know, but when something like that is still gnawing at my soul a week later, I have to vent about it somewhere. The thing that really made me angry the next day was that the NHL blindly stood by this Watson guy. These are the moments that make me hope that the Hockey Gods smite Gary Bettman with a lightning bolt from on high. A couple of days ago, the NBA (which has always been known for its classiness) openly admitted that a blown call in the final seconds of a game caused a team to lose. The exact details are fuzzy because I really couldn't care less about basketball, but it really struck me in light of the epic officiating failure on the Goal That Wasn't. The NBA at least had the guts to come out and say that their ref screwed up. I also seem to recall an NFL official apologizing after blowing a call back in the fall. I'm not one of those fans who thinks there's a massive conspiracy out to get the Wings, but let's face it, that was a major screw-up that impacted the outcome of an important playoff game.

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