Thursday, July 15, 2010

Adventures of A Red Wings Packrat: Lidstrom Beer Bottle Edition...

My favorite random Red Wings item is my Nick Lidstrom beer bottle. It’s been a fixture on my hockey shelf since 2005. It also has my favorite acquisition story.

The year of the lockout was my freshman year of college. That meant that it was the first year that I had to miss a winter break skiing trip with my family because our breaks didn’t line up. So, my family and some of their friends headed up to Treetops Resort in Gaylord without me. I was already upset at missing out on the skiing, so imagine my reaction when I received a phone call informing me that Nick Lidstrom was also staying at the resort with his family. But for an exam that week, I would’ve hopped in my car and flown up I-75 in record time.

My little sister got her lift ticket signed, and the family had encounters with him all over the place. At one point, my sister (7 at the time) was skiing with my mom’s friend when they both wiped out. My mom’s friend was unhurt, but laying in the snow laughing at herself. She was about to sit up when all of a sudden, my sister pounced on her and told her to stay down because, “he might come over.” Lidstrom, apparently, had stopped a little ways up the slope and was looking at them with concern, trying to see if Mrs. C needed any help. I’ve never been prouder of my sister than I was when I heard that story.

My family managed to run into the Lidstroms at the resort restaurant, too. This is how the beer bottle was acquired. My family and our friends got sat at a table right next to the Lidstroms’ right as they were getting ready to leave. The group was short one chair, so Mrs. C went over to the now-vacated table to grab one. While there, she also swiped the empty beer bottle that had been sitting in front of Lidstrom and stuck it in her purse to give to me. It’s been proudly displayed in my room ever since.

I've never been so upset about missing a family outing as I was that week.  Every phone call was like torture.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

SSDD's Adventures Through History Contest...

One night, whilst the Commune was sitting around a bonfire, we began joking about the possibility of photoshops of Brett Lebda through the ages. Hilarity ensued, and the second ever SSDD contest was set in motion. In light of the Lebster’s departure for Toronto (an event which I am incredibly disappointed that I missed while on vacation), I decided to open it up to include all current and former Red Wings.

The goal is to place said players in the most amusing historical situations you can think of. I made a couple for my own entertainment based on what we discussed around the campfire. The first photoshop shows Lebda parting the waters on his way to Toronto. Or somewhere. Who knows. Below, we have King Bertuzzi snacking on a juicy turkey leg.

The contest will be judged by my mom and dad. First and second place will each receive some Red Wings goodies obtained from this spring's viewing parties. First place will get a reusable grocery bag with a Budd Lynch bobblehead, car flag, and a Red Wings Christmas ornament (my favorite because it's high-quality and doesn't have logos on it). Second place gets a Wings water bottle and a playoff pom pom.

I’m kind of a history buff, so this should be lots of fun. I'll leave the contest open until midnight next Tuesday. With any luck, I'll even get around to judging the contest in a timely manner this time around.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Adventures of A Red Wings Packrat: Voodoo Doll Edition...

I recently discovered that I have an entire drawer full of Red Wings merchandise. I also have several shelves in my room devoted to the Wing-related memorabilia that I’ve collected over the years (I’m the world’s biggest packrat). Some of the stuff is pretty odd, and since I have nothing better to do this week, I thought I’d write about some of them.

Many of you may recognize this little beauty. It’s the Patrick Roy voodoo doll that the Free Press printed during the Wings-Avs series in ’02. It’s the original newsprint stuffed with Kleenex and sealed with staples. It really is a piece of artwork. During that series, we printed off several copies of the voodoo doll and they were abused in various ways. One found a permanent home underneath the bedpost in my brothers’ semi-bunk beds. It was subsequently forgotten and discovered months later. Another copy was repeatedly thrown against the wall in the family room when the Wings were firing shots on him. If I recall correctly, one of my brothers went the traditional route and stabbed one of the copies with a pin over and over again. For my part, I had another copy that I just shook nervously whenever the puck was in play (well, right up until about halfway through the first period of Game 7).

This particular version, being the original, got treated a little better than the others. As the only surviving voodoo doll (that we know of…who knows what we’ll find in my brothers’ rooms?), it’s enjoyed a place on my memorabilia shelf for the last eight years. In related news, the fact that it’s been eight years since the ’02 Cup makes me feel really old. My personal favorite touch is the 666 on the back.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of my random collections. Next up is Nick Lidstrom’s beer bottle. How did I acquire that, you ask? Tune in next time I decide to stop being lazy and write another one of these to find out.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Part Three...

The Ugly
  • There was more ugly this season than I care to remember. It was a rough year for the team and us fans.
  • Brad May’s no-goal was the most ridiculously bad call I’d ever seen at the time. Of course, Jim Joyce had to go and one-up him a few months later (Can you tell I’m still bitter?), but this was disgraceful and bungled by the NHL. Objectively speaking, the May call was worse than the one in the perfect game because of its sheer ridiculousness even though in context it mattered less. This was a perfect example of officiating incompetence by the NHL and makes a compelling argument against the intent to blow nonsense that has been plaguing the league.
  • That was the worst incident by far, but the officiating all throughout the playoffs was a joke. It wasn’t just the Wings-Sharks series. I don’t think there was a single series that wasn’t influenced by lousy calls and pathetic excuses for refereeing. Not that any of us should be surprised. This is the only measure of consistency the NHL has.
  • The Wings didn’t suffer from an injury bug this season. It was a full-blown plague. There were several stretches when the team was fielding a roster that was half Griffins. The Wings didn’t lose the most man games of any team in the league, but I would argue that they lost more important man games than anyone else. They weren’t losing grinders; it was the stars going down. November, December, and January were absolutely brutal. A casual fan probably wouldn’t have even recognized the team they were fielding during that stretch. Ugh.
  • Doanface and Crosby’s Golden Roar were two of the most disturbing images I’ve seen. *shudder*
  • Of course neither one of them can hold a candle to the Shetuzzi. This is the stuff of nightmares. Behold it in all of its glory:
  • NBC and Versus continued to provide astonishingly bad coverage. The announcers are pathetically bad, and at one point, NBC missed a Wings goal right off of a faceoff because they were showing nonsense. These are the NHL’s broadcast partners. I can’t stand when they pick up Wings games.
Thoughts? Additions?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Part Two...

The Bad
  • There was plenty of bad to go around this season. It was by far the most stressful one in recent memory. We really did get to see how the other half lives.
  • After this season, can we all just agree that the shootout needs to go? The Wings were absolutely miserable at it all season long. There’s really no good explanation for this either. They should really be a lot better what with all of their talent. If anyone out there has an idea, let me know. Aside from that, a shootout on the final day of the regular season determined which team got into the playoffs. Not cool.
  • The much-hyped trip to Sweden to start the regular season turned out to be a bust. The Wings came home with an 0-2 record and not a lot to show for their travel. Little did we know that the event was going to be a perfect preview of what most of the rest of the season was going to look like.
  • Remember how excited we all were to see a whole season of Jonathan Ericsson? Big Rig didn’t quite live up to the promise he showed during the playoffs last season. He seemed to devote this year to turnovers and giving Wings fans heart attacks.
  • This shootout goal that won the game for Dallas was an absolute joke. It wasn’t the most ridiculous event of the season, but it was up there. It was just another one of those moments that makes fans hate the NHL. And of course it had to be "scored" by Steve Ott.
  • Todd Bertuzzi.
  • In January, Brett Lebda managed to break Tomas Holmstrom’s foot during practice. Just when we thought the injury plague was going away and some of the guys were coming back, another one went down. That was definitely not RAAAAGHHHH.
  • Remember when we thought Nick Lidstrom would never score a goal again?
  • The powerplay was pathetic for a long stretch of the season. Like most of the events of this season, this was unusual and difficult for Wings fans to adjust to.
  • The Brad May experiment was clearly a failure. He was useless for sticking up for his teammates. Last time I checked, that was his only purpose for being in the NHL. There’s a reason he ended up finishing the season in Grand Rapids.
  • Patrick Eaves’ shootout attempt during the H2H weekend was the stuff of legend. It was like his own little gift to our party. It even spawned the #Eavesed hashtag. Since the Wings ended up winning the game, it’s easy to laugh about now. It’s one of those moments the poor guy is never going to live down. Watch and enjoy:
  • During a home game, a section of the lower bowl had to be evacuated because a couple of guys had found their way up into the rafters. It was…interesting.
  • NHL scheduling during the playoffs once again baffled everyone involved. Was it really necessary to take a lifetime off before the Finals?
  • The Wings’ early playoff exit was a major disappointment. After the way the season went, it wasn’t particularly surprising, but it hurt nonetheless. Not as much as the end of last season’s playoffs, but still not fun.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Part One...

The Good
  • Let’s start with the obvious. Herm 2 Hockeytown was one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of. The extent to which the Red Wings community reaches amazes me. Not only did we bring Herm here to watch a game, but we also raised over $5,000 for Children’s Hospital. Hanging out at Hockeytown, singing Happy Birthday to Jimmy Howard, the tin foil hats, post-gaming at the Town Pump, and visiting Greektown in the middle of the night were just some of the highlights of the night. When I first started blogging, I swore I’d never meet anyone off of the internet. Boy am I glad I broke that promise. There are some truly great people out there in Red Wings Nation.
  • One of the best legacies of H2H was the creation of the #redwingscommune a little while later. None of that would have happened without the real life connections we made that weekend. We had Commune gatherings all over the Metro area during the playoffs, and I really think we helped each other survive. We ended up with a whole array of lingo like donut goalies, Drunk Lebda, and Homerbait and there’s nobody I would rather have been with at the end of Game Five.
  • At one of our Commune gatherings, we came up with an idea to have a Tin Foil Flashmob at the Joe. Originally, we wanted to rally people to wrap the building with tin foil, but decided that that idea was impractical. Somehow, it evolved into a plan to recruit dancers while passing out tin foil hats outside of the Joe. It was an absolutely absurd idea, but we had a blast. It was crazy and miles away from anything I ever imagined myself doing, but I loved being a part of it.
  • Jimmy Howard was a revelation this season. I don’t think many people expected him to perform the way he did. I figured he was a temporary solution until one of the younger goalies was ready for the NHL. He looked awful during the beginning of the season. He managed to turn things around, though, and took over the starter’s job. He was nothing short of brilliant on several occasions. Here’s hoping he can keep it up next season.
  • The Olympics were phenomenal. I could’ve done with a different ending, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t glued to my TV for the majority of the tournament.
  • The fact that Andreas Lilja was able to come back after almost a year on IR was great. I really thought his career was over and that Mickey Redmond was crazy when he started talking about Lils being close to coming back during one of the broadcasts. He provided a much-needed steady influence on the third pairing.
  • Game Seven in the first round and Game Four in the second round were amazingly fun. Watching Game Seven at Kukla’s with the commune was a blast, and the Mule’s rampage in Game Four was one for the ages. They were definitely the highlights of the playoffs.
  • Brendan Shanahan joining Twitter was one of the best events of the season. That guy makes my life. I expected him to just twitter boring things, but he’s been nothing short of entertaining.
  • The Versus announcers once again created another fun new word for us. I’m a big fan of “danglelicious” and feel like a bit of a failure because I don’t use it more often. I’m going to work on that over the summer.
  • Another Versus highlight was the addition of Darren McCarty as an intermission commentator. He looked pretty nervous at first, but seems to have settled into the job. It’s nice to have someone on there to make their intermission reports tolerable. If you didn’t already love him, the time they called him a homer and he said that he had four reasons to be a homer surely melted your heart.
  • Watching Jimmy Howard go after Sidney Crosby was one of the highlights of the regular season. It even inspired Henrik Zetterberg to deliver one of my favorite quotes of the year: “I saw Jimmy coming in with his glove and Crosby wasn’t there anymore.” Perfect.
  • The post-Olympic run that the Wings went on was a blast. We’d been waiting all season for the real Wings to show up, and this stretch catapulted them into the 5th playoff seed. It was the only real display of Red Wing hockey that we got to see all season.
  • The NHL’s History Will Be Made commercials were fabulous. Some of the ones toward the end were a little ridiculous, but the initial concept was brilliant. The Datsyuk/Zetterberg one was my personal favorite, though I might be slightly biased in that regard. Other than the fact that it featured my two favorite current players, I liked the fact that it required a little bit of hockey knowledge to understand the “What if” question.
  • The speechless commercial that debuted during the Finals was pretty awesome, too.
  • Johan Franzen didn’t quite live up to his mouthguard-snatching from last season, but I was a big fan of his diving pantomime during a game against Chicago.
On a personal note:
  • Getting to know you crazy sunshines online and in real life made this season one of the most memorable ever, despite the frustration it induced. It truly was fantastic.
  • Meeting Steve Yzerman in November was obviously one of my personal highlights. I still can’t really believe that actually happened.
  • My friend getting her foot stuck in one of the seats at the Joe was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. She’s still a little bit bitter about the lack of help that she received from me and the fact that I wrote about it and mentioned the incident on TOV.
  • I also managed to make it to more games this season than ever before. This included not one, but two playoff games. Sitting down by the glass with Sara and TPL Mom against San Jose was incredible.
  • At one of those games, I got the opportunity to go out on the ice to participate in the turkey bowling game during intermission. I was an incredible failure at it, but my team still managed to win. We got free tickets to another game and got to keep our turkeys. This resulted in my little brother wandering around the Joe carrying a frozen turkey for the next two periods. The pictures we have are priceless.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Social Media Day in Detroit...

I just got home from the Social Media Day party hosted by the Wings. It was an interesting evening. Our group had a great time and you really can’t go wrong hanging out with the Commune. I got to spend time with Liz, Sara, Sara, Sarah, Drew, Norm, Matt, Topher, Greta, Jim, and Jamie. I’m sure I’m missing someone else, too.

Most of the videos played at the arena this season (including the regular season intro and the playoff pre-show) were playing on a loop on all of the TVs in the club. There were also giant cutouts of Franzen and Ozzie that you could pose for pictures with. The Wings had a table set up with all kinds of free stuff, and I added some posters and mouse pads to my growing collection of junk. There were Wings and Tigers giveaways throughout the night, and the Commune took home a couple of Tigers hats if I’m not mistaken. They also had a net with some goalie equipment and jerseys that you could dress up in. I thought it would be funny to pose with the equipment while wearing my nice dress. I’m a lot of fun. (Thanks to Sara for the picture.)

The club was very nice, and we enjoyed taking pictures of the TV mirrors in the bathroom (The Commune was a little out of its element. This isn’t really our scene.) and marveling at the chrome toilets. We had a spectacular view of the skyline, river, and bridge and could see where Tiger Stadium used to be. Motor City was the only casino I’d never been in (and I’ve still never been on the floor), and it was very nice. We had free pizza from Little Caesar’s to snack on, although it wasn’t particularly good. There was also a guy in a Little Caesar costume walking around awkwardly.

All in all, the whole thing was a little strange. We decided that it was like a nerd prom. Or a bad wedding reception. Or an awkward work conference party. The dance floor maxed out with about six people dancing the Cupid Shuffle. There wasn’t a whole lot of mingling going on. I’d do it again next year, but only if it was sponsored by the Wings again. I had a lot of fun thanks to the good company. Commune events are always boatloads of fun. As always, my pictures are up on Photobucket. There aren't many because my camera battery died, but I added some that were twittered by other folks.

Draft Nonsense...

I've spent the last couple of days writing about the draft for the Chicks blog. I wrote about the Wings' picks here, and did a shorter piece on Tampa Bay's selections just for kicks.

My very belated season recap should be coming up soon. I'm going to set the three parts to auto-post while I'm on vacation.