The third and final part of Q&A series is with Andy from Fight Night at the Joe (You can also follow him on Twitter @FightNightatJoe.). It's an English-language blog (so there's no excuse for not stopping by) written all the way from Norway. I hope you've enjoyed reading these as much as I have. I'll be back in action Wednesday morning with a GP for the Chicago game if things go according to plan.
How did you first become a fan of the Red Wings? Why did you choose them over other pro teams?
This one has a bit of story behind it. My first favourite hockey club was the Canucks, because when I was four or five (92 or 93) my dad went to Canada and brought home one of those horrible jerseys the Canucks had at the time. It was the white away jersey by the way. When we got a channel that showed NHL in early 95 (they sent some re-airings of games during the day and now and then I was allowed to stay up and watch games live) I realized that except for Bure, the Canucks bored me, while these guys in Red and White had nice jerseys, a good swede, a russian line and Steve Yzerman. So I kinda started rooting for them then. And got to see a couple of pretty disappointing post-seasons, which really actually is something that makes you love a team more. The defining moment came in the summer of 96 though. I was at a hockey camp in Asker (15 minutes outside of Oslo) and we got visited for an afternoon and a morning by Scotty Bowman and Barry Smith (who were both in Europe for some reason). They had an on ice practice with us and coached us in an inter-group game (they coached each team for half the game) and also handed out some Red Wings effects. I still have a sticker saying "Proud to be a Wings fan" and I've been ever since the day I got it.
How large is the community of Wings fans where you live? Are there a lot of other NHL fans?
I've met a few dedicated Wings fans through the years, but none of my friends are Wings fans. Only three of my friends are NHL fans and they support the Avs, Caps and Pens respectively. Actually, most of the people that compliment me on my awesome Gordie Howe hall of fame t-shirt are guys who have been the Wings on the EA Sports NHL games.
The hockey community in Norway is very small, which is weird seeing as we're neighbooring Sweden, Finland and Russia. We've got about 30 indoor hockey rinks and maybe a few more active clubs than that. The economy in Norwegian hockey is pretty bad, and a team actually had to pull out of our Elite League in the second week this year because of bankruptcy. Still hockey is the second most watched live sport in Norway. Sadly, it is not watched much on TV and it doesn't get much attention. So the NHL following here is pretty weak. But hey, we at least made it to the olympics!
What do you do to follow the team? Is it difficult to see games or find news about the Wings or the NHL in general?
To follow the team, I watch every game (and usually OnTheFly) and read Wings blogs. To answer the second question, that is not easy at all. We've got one pay TV channel that sends a few games per week live and then a few more as re-airings in the daytime. So to watch the games you have to shell out for ESPN 360 (which covers most of the regular season games) or resort to methods that I probably shouldn't discuss here. Another problem is that the games start at like 1-2 AM here, so unless it's the playoffs I usually watch re-airings or on demand. The papers write little about NHL. The one that's best on hockey maybe has 2-5 small notices about the NHL per week and a big article every second or third month. And the little they write is usually either about Sid, OV or one of our NHLers (right now that's only Ole-Kristian Tollefsen of the Flyers). So internet is the place for NHL news.
What made you decide to start blogging about the Wings?
My road into blogging started when I began reading the Hockeytown Blog. Their links hooked me on other blogs and I started to read Snipe snipe, Dangle dangle and the Triple Deke regularly. As the weeks went by I started reading more and more blogs and one day I was bored at the university I thought that writing a blog looked kinda fun. So I started writing there and then.
Have you ever had the chance to see them play in person?
Yes, me and a mate (the Avs fan) went to Stockholm and saw the first game against the Blues this October. It was pretty fun, though the fact Blues won was a bummer. But we had 2nd row seats behind the St. Louis goal, and all the goals except Leino's and the first Blues goal was scored right in front of us.
The only other NHL game I've seen live was Sabres beating the Leafs 4-1 at the ACC on New Years day this year (I was in Toronto as parent for my brother's hockey team, who were playing a tournament).
What is your favorite hockey memory?
On the ice: Winning a Norwegian chapionship for under 15s (though that was bittersweet as I got 1 shift in the final game), scoring a hat trick against our rivals once and being a part of beating Farjestad one of the best teams in Sweden over two nights.
As a fan it's pretty hard to choose. Seeing Nick with the cup in 08 at five in the morning, two hours before I was off for a German festival was a highlight. The 7-0 blowout against the Avs in the 02 playoffs another. And I'll never forget when Stevie handed the trophy to Konstantinov in 98.
But I've gotta go with game four in 97. Even though i was just 9 years old and had been a Wings fan for two years, I understood the magnitude of the drought, and seeing them winning was huge. McCarty's goal might be my favourite single hockey moment.
Who is your favorite player on the roster right now? Why?
Tough one. I'd like to answer Ozzie, Nick or Dats. And Helm is becoming a favourite too, but I have to go with Henrik Zetterberg. He is the leader, the star, the guy who neutralizes the opponent's stars, while he creates offense at the same time. And he seems like a nice bloke. Nick might be more perfect, and Datsyuk has more flash, but Z is the heart of the team for me, and I can't really think of a player that I'd pick over him in the whole NHL.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Not really, only that Stevie Y is the man and always will be and that female Norwegian Wings fans should contact me (though I have a feeling that's a non-existant race).
And yeah, thanks for getting a chance to be interviewed here!