The Winter Classic happened. Without that crucial 16th playoff victory, this game stands out as the highlight of the season. My brother and I requested off of work two months in advance to make sure we weren’t scheduled during the game. I skipped my cousin’s birthday gathering to stay home and watch. It was everything it was cracked up to be. Pavel Datsyuk scored on a wind-aided breakaway. Henrik Zetterberg wore eye black. The Wings showed the Blackhawks that they were still in charge of the Central. The weather was glorious and it made me nostalgic for the childhood pond hockey that I never played. Chris Osgood made a “mastodonic glove grab,” which is a phrase we still have not interpreted. Later on in the month, Datsyuk and Lidstrom were handed quasi-suspensions for electing not to fly to Montreal and shake hands with rich people. During his suspension, Datsyuk gave this now classic interview that accounts for half of the title of this blog. The Wings lost that game, which was incredibly disappointing to me because I really wanted them to skate defiantly to victory despite being wrongfully deprived of two of their superstars. With heroic background music and soaring banners to boot. None of this happened.
Andreas Lilja got into a fight and busted a vein in his head. He hasn’t played a game since. I’m all for fighting, but I could’ve done without that one.
What happened in March? Nothing ever happens in March. Why does this month even exist?
The Wings swept the Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs, thus ending Columbus' first ever post-season appearance. Chris Osgood suddenly awoke from his regular season slumber and surprised more than a few of us.
(No, not Brad.)
Things were looking good in May. The general consensus was that whoever survived the Wings-Ducks series was going to be the eventual Cup winner. Unfortunately, we all know how things worked out in the end. We did, however, get to witness the Goal that Wasn’t, which left my brother and me screaming and chucking dog toys at the floor of our family room in the middle of the night. After the first of the two Game 7s we had to endure, the Wings faced Chicago. I attended my first ever playoff game, thus checking that off of my life list. The Hawks made fools of themselves at some point, Johan Franzen stole Patrick Kane's mouthguard, and Niklas Kronwall annihilated Martin Havlat. Oh, and I found this humble little corner of the internet where I could spew my random ranting and raving.
(That's the Summer Solstice for those of you who failed astronomy class.)
I think it’s best if we just pretend that June never happened.
Free agency and the destructive forces of the salary cap finally arrived on our doorsteps as Marian Hossa, Tomas Kopecky, Mikael Samuelsson, and Jiri Hudler skated away with approximately 792 goals. Hudler left for Russia and the NHL decided to use his case to take a stand against the KHL. This left the Wings in limbo until the situation was resolved…and all of the desirable free agents were off the market. Oh, and Ken Holland re-signed some dude named Ville Leino. He must be having work visa issues or something because I still haven't noticed him on the ice.
(Why is there a cake, you ask? Well, my birthday is clearly the only important August occurrence.)
Kenny Holland was finally able to venture into the free agent market and landed Patrick Eaves, Jason Williams, and Todd Bertuzzi. I was happy about exactly one of those signings. I spent a great deal of time bored out of my mind, and counting down the days until hockey season started up again.
September means training camp, one of the most exciting times of the year for hockey fans (you know, after the playoffs, and the playoff races, and the actual start of the regular season, and...well, I was excited about it). There was the promise of a new season filled with angry Wings out to avenge their heart-breaking loss in Game 7 of the Finals. Instead, Henrik Zetterberg, Dan Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi, and Darren Helm (Am I missing anyone here? These are all starting to blur together.) sat out the majority of training camp and the pre-season with various injuries, thus signifying the beginning of the injury epidemic that continues to plague the Wings.
October brought with it the always-exciting return of real, meaningful hockey games. The Wings opened the season in Sweden and came back with exactly zero points. It was epic. Johan Franzen busted his knee, which effectively eliminated him from the majority of the NHL season as well as the Olympics. The news of that injury broke on my brother’s birthday (the one with the mancrush on Franzen), thus ruining the entire age of 19 for him. Other people got hurt, the Wings continued to struggle, and the citizens of Hockeytown began to collectively pull their hair out.
Jason Williams’ leg snapped in a way that made even the most steely among us shudder. Steve Yzerman fulfilled his destiny by being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Wings scored 19 goals over a span of 3 games and we thought that all was right with the world. We even got our first taste of the long-awaited free Arby’s. Dennis LaRue intended to blow his whistle and we were subsequently accused of wearing tin foil hats. Niklas Kronwall joined the legion of injured Wings after a dirty knee-on-knee hit from Georges Laraque. The Wings also went approximately ten years between goals at one point. Oh, and I kind of got to meet Stevie Y at the Joe. So that was nice.
The Wings continued to struggle offensively (except for Todd Bertuzzi...more on that later) and got shut out at least 97 times during the month. They also continued my favorite 2009 trend (injuries) as they lost Dan Cleary, Jonathan Ericsson, and Henrik Zetterberg to various ailments. We fans started a podcast and launched a campaign to bring Guilherme to Hockeytown to see a game. We also photoshopped hair onto Brian Rafalski’s head (please reference the podcast). I lost touch with hockey for a week while I was on vacation, and am still pretending that the two losses and Zetterberg’s injury that occurred in my absence didn’t happen. Valtteri Filppula made his long-awaited return to the lineup right after Christmas, and Todd Bertuzzi went on a scoring tear that has just about everyone jumping on his bandwagon. No really, he's the only Wing to have scored in the last four games. Ville Leino accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of playing himself right out of the injury-riddled lineup. You know the hair pulling that started in October? Well, all of Hockeytown is now completely bald (Or is that just me?)--from the stress, not in homage to Rafalski. Our hopes have changed from wanting to see the boys win games to just praying for them to score a single goal. The Wings are limping toward the New Year, and we're looking at the promise of returning players in January as the light at the end of the tunnel of this less-than-stellar year in Hockeytown.