Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Strange Days

Back when the world was normal and the Red Wings were in the playoffs, you know, for like 25 straight years? Back then the most honest thing I'd say in the months of April (the last four years), May (most years before Ken Holland destroyed this team) and June (those years when baby Jesus made sound decisions about hockey), was, "I hate the gosh darn playoffs (edited)."

I did. There was no stress like playoff stress.  Nothing hurt more than a playoff loss, especially an OT loss.

Rocking. Thumb sucking. Muttering. Avoidance. Anticipation. Hope. Pessimism. Despair. Joy followed by blackness. All in one playoff shift, it seemed.

Now, though? Now, as the Team That Holland Built golfs?

Different.  My routine the last 25 years (more like 20, I'd guess) went like this:

Wings play an early game (we used to be in the Western Conference because the midget commissioner needed us there to keep interest in the sport west of Chicago), and win? I'll watch more hockey. More hockey that night. More hockey the next day. Hockey galore until the Wings played again in two days (because NHL players don't need four days between hockey games).  I'd blog and blog and blog, write and write. Read everything.  If the Wings won.

Wings lose? Oh, hell no.  No games until our next one.  No reading. No writing. Barely any conversation. Absolute, abject avoidance of everything and anyone who wanted to discuss hockey (or idiotically choose that time to twist a knife).

It was that simple. Huge mood swings. A 180 degree difference between me as a winning Wing fan or me as a Wing fan who can't bear to think for one second about the last loss.

It's no way to live, but live like that I (and we) did for more than two decades.

Now? Weird.  I've watched more hockey the last four days than I ever have. Stress-free hockey. Overtime hockey. Four games went to OT last night?  Holy. Shit.  What sport could possibly compete with that? If the rest of the country (the US) actually took a chance and watched any of those games last night? They'd be converted.

You watch hockey differently when the games don't matter. You root differently.

I'd like Toronto to beat Washington and then I'd like Toronto to beat whoever they play next, and then next. I'd like them to win it all.  I like that team. Not the way Ken Holland "likes our team". I like the youth and the idea of it. I love the passion in that city for hockey and I always have. I know that irritates many people. I'll survive. I also like Mike Babcock.

I like the fact that Chicago is getting swept. I don't think that requires any explanation at all.

I don't like that the Blues are going to beat Minnesota because I believe Blues fans are a disgusting group and I don't like it when they're happy.

But...I don't want Minnesota fans to be happy either because the Ingalls sisters chose them over us. It's a quandary.

I don't care about the Calgary/Anaheim series and I don't think I care about Montreal and NY. 

I'd like Pittsburgh to lose. However, unlike St. Louis, I happen to like Pens fans. I want Pittsburgh to lose because I don't want anyone repeating until we do it again. I have a bad feeling, though, that with Chicago losing and the Caps most likely choking again...

I truly do not care about Ottawa and Boston. I think of that series and my mind goes blank and milky. I have no emotions about it at all. I'm very calm right now, very serene, thinking about that series and how little I care about it.

I do not appreciate a playoff-free spring, as a Wing fan. It's not my preference.

But it's not as bad as I thought it would be.

I'd like Kenny Holland to be fired this afternoon, if possible.  That, in itself, would not guarantee a return to the playoff stress I love/hate.  But it would make me feel warmer, safer and happier.

I'll watch hockey tonight. Maybe. After the Tiger game, or maybe during if I don't feel like suffering through another bullpen meltdown.

No stress. Emotion-free viewing. Weird.

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink


stonehands-78's avatar

... I haven’t seen a second of hockey since, you know, ‘the final buzzer at The Joe’

no motivation, just doesn’t seem right to try and pretend I’m interested ...



Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 04/18/17 at 07:33 AM ET


I’ve been enjoying the playoffs.  After the Wings season it’s nice to watch good, entertaining, well-coached hockey.

And it’s nice to see Babcock and the Buds taking it to the Craps.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 04/18/17 at 08:49 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

I’ve watched more hockey the last four days than I ever have. Stress-free hockey. Overtime hockey. Four games went to OT last night?  Holy. Shit.

I’m right there with you, Master Chief. When the Wings were in the playoffs, I didn’t watch more than a few minutes of any of the other games. Now it’s a whole different story.

The Hawks getting “schooled” (and embarrassed) by the Preds? That’s just precious. The Leafs flying around the ice making the big, bad Caps look mortal? Oh, yeah, that’s a whole lot of fun. And the rest of the games have all been entertaining to say the least.

Personally, I think every Wings player under 26 should be required to watch every second of every single playoff game. They need to see how hard it all is. They need to feel the compete level needed.

And then they need to spend the summer feeding off of that as they prepare for next season – and as the pray that they’ll be greeted in training camp by a head coach who knows what the hell he’s doing.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 04/18/17 at 09:41 AM ET


I’d like Kenny Holland to be fired this afternoon, if possible.

You literally have my laughing out loud at my desk at work (SharePoint Admin/Developer - IT)

Awesome. I watched all 4 games last night. I’m rooting for Toronto and Preds to win it all. Would be awesome Cup final…

Posted by Pasha1277 on 04/18/17 at 10:02 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

I agree!  It is easier to watch stress-free hockey, and I am watching great games every night.. 
Oh, how I miss the Wings in the playoffs…

The blaring message in these games is how great a coach is Mike Babcock. 
Not in rock / paper / scissors, but in how he motivates his young players to play like “hell on wheels”!

Alas, the Wings used to play that way…


Posted by w2j2 on 04/18/17 at 10:02 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

If the rest of the country (the US) actually took a chance and watched any of those games last night? They’d be converted.

No doubt about it.

My casual-non-fan colleagues are even shaking their heads at how entertaining and exciting the NHL playoffs are. As one guy said at coffee this morning: “I couldn’t turn the TV during the Ottawa Boston game!”

Nothing like the NHL playoffs. Nothing.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 04/18/17 at 11:04 AM ET

Primis's avatar

I’ve watched both NHL playoff games and some of the World U18’s when they’re live.

I won’t lie though.  Come the conf. finals probably, I won’t care much anymore again.  Once we’re down to a small handful of teams that are one of will win a Cup, I’ll hate the idea again and not be able to do it, because it’s not DET.

Posted by Primis on 04/18/17 at 12:36 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

I watched the 1st period of the Leafs game in the Minneapolis airport at a bar. Nearby were several leafs fans watching as well. However, me and the leafs fans were the only people watching multiple screens of hockey.

I asked a guest services guy at the airport where I might find a place to watch the hockey game….He laughed and said the hockey season was over, or would be tomorrow.

Posted by Down River Dan on 04/18/17 at 02:10 PM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

I’m enjoying this years playoffs as much as any in the last several years. Not because the Wings aren’t involved, but because they’re not getting smoked in the first round in 5 games, and looking like they don’t even belong there.

*I really REALLY hope Boston loses. Not that I love the Sens by any stretch (altho Karlsson is a stud, and that 115 ft pass was unreal), but anything that makes Brad Marchand sad is good for the game and makes me happy.
*Caps/Leafs is probably the most entertaining series going. I’d love to see Ovi hoist the Cup, but the Leafs are a blast to watch, too. I’ll probably cheer for the winner of this one to go all the way, esp since the winner looks like they’ll play Pittsburgh.
*I’ve always kind of hated the Rangers, but I’m not entirely sure why. Might go back to their ‘94 Cup run, when, by winning it, they made the Wings’ drought the longest in the league.
*Interesting that the two series I figured were “pick ‘em” (STL/MIN and PIT/CBJ) are 3-0, altho from what I’ve seen most have been close.
*Glad the Preds are taking it to the Hawks, altho I have a hard time respecting a fan base that screams “YOU SUCK” when their team scores a goal at home.
*I have friends who are Sharks fans, so if they win it will make friends happy, but, all else being equal, I’m hoping the Oilers win in a long series.
*Still hate the Ducks, but not sure the Flames have what it takes to win 4 straight against them.

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 04/18/17 at 02:12 PM ET

Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit's avatar

I always partake in this fabulous time of year. This is some of the better hockey I have watched in recent history. Obviously I am a huge homer, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the Wings, but, we’ll be back.

I have watched plenty of seasons without the Wings in the mix. Some great teams back in the day, the Habs, the Bruins, and who could forget the mighty Islanders and the “Drive for Five”? Only to be stopped by the Great One and the Oilers. May as well enjoy the Playoffs for a change.

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit on 04/18/17 at 08:03 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

Wonderful games. I root for whomever is playing against Pittsburgh o Chicago. LOL

Posted by bigfrog on 04/18/17 at 09:58 PM ET

Schielke's avatar

Long time fan of the blog, first post.

Truth to most but not all.  This season was just a bunch of me watching games with only two teams: the Wings and Whoever Else was playing (read: defeating) the Wings.

Now, in the playoffs, to find out that those teams actually have names and their players have names and there’s people who root for them (even though they’re not the Wings)?  Mind blowing.  At first I wanted to say I hate all the other teams b/c they’re not the Wings.  But that’s not very becoming.

So, I’m pulling for whatever situation results in as many 7-game series as possible.

Posted by Schielke from The Deep South on 04/18/17 at 11:24 PM ET

stonehands-78's avatar

//sigh// ... good stuff ...

Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 04/20/17 at 07:56 PM ET

42jeff's avatar

I have been sitting in new York the last week on reserve and doing nothing but watching hockey really. Since I’m in new York they replay the NY games in the afternoon so I don’t watch them live.  My roommate here in the crash pad are getting sick of it but screw those non hockey lovers.  Anyway..I was thinking the same exact thing this morning.  Watching all these non red wings games has given me some new perspective on just where our beloved wings are these days…and that place is where they currently are.  Home.  Polishing their golf clubs for tomorrow.

I’ve found myself rooting for all the Canadian teams just as a goof, and holy crap was it nice watching the hawks go. 

Annnnnd the Bruins just won in double OT….wow that was a hell of a game….

Anyway, I suppose we all needed to be humbled a little….and most of all Damn Holland.  Screw that guy too

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 04/21/17 at 11:48 PM ET


Have watched more of other series this year than I have in the last 25 years. What I noted was the level of intensity and the hard hitting these teams are doing. Then, I find myself comparing it to the way the Wings play and I cringe.

No way they will even make the playoffs next season if they don’t find that extra gear most nights. If they do make it, they will have to find another extra gear, just like all of these other teams are doing. The country club atmosphere has infested this club and that, combined with a coach who is in well over his head will make the next couple of seasons really long…but extra short, if you know what I mean.

Posted by NewfieWing on 04/24/17 at 01:30 AM ET

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com