I just got back from Hockeyfest at the Joe. I went with my little sister, and my dad and brother joined us later on in the evening. We had a fantastic time, and I wish I could go back tomorrow. I think I may have managed to reignite her semi-dormant love for the game. Back in the day, when she was 6 or 7, she knew all of the Wings and their jersey numbers by heart. I took entirely too many pictures, and I think my brother drank a gallon of Coke, but all in all it was a good day, even though my dog just chewed up the foam puck I won at Scor-O. I uploaded a whole album of pictures to photobucket. Unfortunately, the Joe is quite possibly the worst place I’ve ever taken pictures before, and the shots that I got of the players didn’t turn out very well.
Anyway, we arrived just in time for the Q&A with Nick Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom. Some of the more interesting points:
--Lidstrom was asked who he thought the Wings’ biggest rivals in the West were. He said Anaheim, followed by San Jose and Chicago.
--They were also asked about Jiri Hudler, and the IIHF situation. Lidstrom apparently hadn’t heard about the transfer card issue, but he said, “he’ll be missed,” regarding Hudler.
--Then someone asked Lidstrom about the way he tapes his stick and the size of the knob on the end. After he finished talking about how he’d experimented with the amount of tape, but felt most comfortable with a big knob, Homer said, “Yeah, yours has gotten smaller though.” Double entendres ensued. They involved water bottles and sausages. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
--Holmstrom also guaranteed a Stanley Cup this season. That little clip made it onto the recap video on the Wings’ website (worth watching just to see Homer try to figure out what the event was called).
--Someone asked Lidstrom if he’d sign a contract for less money to free up cap space to bring in more talent. He gave the same answer he’s given before, about playing out the season and working something out. He finished by saying that he’d definitely sign a contract like Zetterberg’s, to which Homer added, “Maybe then Nick would be bald.”
--Another fan asked what Babcock was like as a coach. Holmstrom answered, “He yells at me every day. Skate Homer, skate Homer, skate Homer!”
--Apparently Lidstrom studied to be an engineer in Sweden, and would have gone into telecommunications if hockey hadn’t worked out. On the other hand, Holmstrom said he’d be a fireman.
--When someone asked if it was frustrating to have goals called back because of goalie interference, Lidstrom cited an example from the ’08 playoffs against Dallas. Holmstrom said, “You still mad at that?” Lidstrom replied, “Now that you mention it, yes.”
--Fan: “I saw that on NHL.com Sidney Crosby was voted the NHL’s biggest wuss. Do you agree?” Homer: “Yah.” Then everyone laughed. It’s also possible that he was joking. But I like to think he wasn’t.
--Then a full grown man got the microphone and asked Nick Lidstrom if one of the goals from this upcoming season was to win the Stanley Cup. I would have answered that it absolutely was not one of my goals, but it turns out that Lidstrom is a little bit nicer than I am.
--Probably my favorite fan question though was the guy who got up and introduced his wife, toddler, and newborn baby. Apparently his baby was named Nicklas too, and he wanted Nick to autograph his forehead. Lidstrom: “Hopefully not with a permanent marker.”
A little while later, Kris Draper and Jason Williams did a Q&A as well. Highlights:
--Ken Daniels moderated this one, and there was some awkward seat shuffling when the three of them tried to take their seats. One of the chairs was bar stool height, and Draper said, “I think Ken Daniels should sit in the highchair.” I was amused.
--When Williams was telling a story about having his dog in a hotel and having to take it out to go to the bathroom repeatedly throughout the night, Draper chimed in, “That sounds like my old roommate, Kirk Maltby.”
--When all of the injuries were disclosed at the end of the playoffs, I seem to remember reading that Draper had torn cartilage in his neck. Apparently he fractured his thyroid, which is a common injury from strangulation. The injury happened in a game against Buffalo, and he was supposed to be out 6-8 weeks. However, he said that after the Wings lost Game 6 to Anaheim, he pushed to get back in the lineup even though it had only been 5 weeks.
--He also told an interesting story that I don’t recall hearing before. During the playoffs, they put together a 16 piece Stanley Cup puzzle. At the end of each victory, one player stood out puts a piece in. Apparently this was thought up by Draper and Marty Lapointe back in the day, and I’m almost shocked that I’ve never heard about it before. Last year the whole team signed the completed puzzle and auctioned it off for charity.
--Someone asked both of them how they chose their numbers and Draper said that 33 was hanging in his locker when he got called up to the NHL and he just never changed it out of superstition. Williams said his story was pretty much the same.
--A kid asked them why the Wings got picked on by the referees so much. Draper said, “How old are you, Joe?” Joe said he was 7, to which Draper asked, “You know how to ref?” The kid was really cute. That’s pretty much the only reason I included this.
--Another fan asked Draper what goes through his head when he’s lining up for a faceoff. He said, “What goes through my head is how I can cheat and get away with it.” Later on, he added, “When I get tossed out, it’s usually because of my wingers.”
--After that, he was asked what the mood on the bench had been like at the end of Game 7. He responded, “I really thought we were going to score,” and that they really felt like they were taking over during those last few minutes. He said that, “We were believing right till the end.”
--Naturally, someone asked him about the Handshake Incident (And yes, anonymous chastiser, I’m talking about it again.). It’s clear that Draper still isn’t over it, and he actually seemed annoyed when Ken Daniels tried to explain what might have delayed Crosby. Draper said, “Don’t justify it. It is what it is.” As much as I would like to move on, I appreciate the fact that he’s at least standing by his original statement instead of trying to write it off as a heat of the moment thing. If nothing else, maybe it’ll be motivation. I would also like to point out that I won the bet with my sister that someone would bring it up.
--For what it’s worth, someone asked Williams who he thought would win the East, and he predicted Philly.
--They were also asked who they rooted for when they were growing up, and Williams said that he would watch games with his dad. He said, “He made me watch the Leafs all the time. It was painful.”
--The quote inside the Wings' locker room has always bothered me. "To whom much is given, much is expected." I like the sentiment, but there's something not quite right about it. And since I'm a grammar snob, it annoys me. I'm not entirely sure how it should be rephrased, but I do know that it needs a "from" somewhere in there. I have issues.
--The jersey Steve Yzerman wore the night he scored his 600th goal was on display. I was pretty excited because I was in the stands that night. After we looked at the displays, I showed my sister where I was sitting then. She could not have cared less.
--Up on the concourse, we discovered that people had taken it upon themselves to rip Hossa's picture off of the pillar. I was kind of unhappy. I thought it was pretty clear that he was a one-year rental, and I really have no hard feelings about his departure. If anything, I was much more annoyed by Hudler's leaving, as it was completely unexpected and he was a Wings draft pick who was basically lost without compensation.
--There was a joke made about Ozzie, ATMs, and savings, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was. It was pretty good though. I promise. Feel free to come up with your own. There was just something priceless about a goalie, who makes saves, and a bank, where people...you get the idea.
--Right before we left, I was attempting to take a picture of this fake Zetterberg locker. Instead I got a shot of this kid mid-nosepick. Priceless. Also, I really hope his dad does not read this blog.
At any rate, it was a great day, and I’m really glad I got the chance to go. Walking into the locker room felt like entering hallowed ground. Also, I was a little ashamed at how much I wanted to play mini sticks. And it turns out that I’m a Scor-O all star. So that made me happy.