Thursday, June 05, 2008

Welcome Back to Hockeytown

Before finally updating The Malaysia Diaries (which I've slacked on due to a jet-lagged sleep schedule, compounded by late nights watching baseball and hockey), I wanted to post a brief note about the Detroit Red Wings, who won their 11th Stanley Cup championship in team history last night. It's also their fourth cup in the past 11 years, which is quite a run of prosperity after a 42-year drought leading up to the Wings' championship in 1997. (And that might have been my favorite memory as a Detroit sports fan.

I'm not nearly the hockey fan I used to be, which I think reflects the lesser appetite in the metro Detroit for the sport. The NHL lost me when it shut down in 2005, and I've been slow to come back. Not because I don't enjoy the sport, but once something goes away, and you find something else to replace it or realize you don't quite miss it, it's easy to forget. But this is a team that Detroit should embrace, because it was built the right way - with young talent developed within the organization (pronounced organ-EYE-zation for our Canadian friends), and filling in holes with role-playing veterans, instead of just buying the best available superstar players.

Following the Detroit Tigers as closely as I do, and trying to choke down the daily disappointment that their season has been thus far, it's sometimes become difficult to remember just why I love sports. But this Red Wings team has reminded me of that, of how fun it is when one of your local teams finishes as the best, and how that can draw a community together.

I was worried that the Stanley Cup Finals might be completed before I returned from Malaysia, and I'd miss the Wings playing for - and hopefully winning - another championship. I'm glad I returned in time to see the last three games of the series. And I'm really glad I got to see the guys in the red-and-white shirts, with the winged wheel on front, hoist that magnificent trophy over their heads one more time. It's the best celebration to watch in sports, and it's even better when it's your team doing the celebrating.

Enjoy this one, Hockeytown. And please appreciate this team.