Abel to Yzerman
by IwoCPO on 04/13/11 at 08:32 AM ET
There is no Stress Train in Vancouver, or in Nashville or Anaheim. And, despite their claims, it’s never stopped in Pittsburgh or Chicago or Washington. You see, the Train only stops in places where the Cup has been, and then returned. You don’t get your ticket punched following a one-trick team that’s sold their soul to the troll commish. Wishes and dreams have no place on the Stress Train. The only emotion allowed is absolute certainty that your team is owed the Cup, that your team will absolutely win the Cup. That you own it.
You aren’t occasional passengers. You don’t look a few months forward in January and say, “you know…this might be our year.” Every waking day from June to June is spent knowing that if the Cup isn’t in Hockeytown within 12 months, then something has gone completely and totally wrong. That’s the kind of attitude you have and it’s the Swagger that gets you a seat in the Hasek.
But the Stress Train isn’t a joy ride. Those trips are for fans of Phoenix or Nashville. They’re aboard the tiny little zoo locomotives with the happy conducter in his cool hat. They’re making their train noises and jumping up and down while their parents hope they don’t choke on Charleston Chews. They don’t belong with you, not in the same breath, sentence or category. To them, the playoffs are fun. Every win is a new toy to play with and savor. For us, the fun’s over—literally—within an hour. Why? Because it’s always the next one. The next win, the next Cup. “Next?” is the drunken refrain every time the Hasek empties.
Semantics? Nope. Reality. While fans in Phoenix foolishly allow themselves to look ahead and say, “wouldn’t it be great if?”, we count down from 16, cross off our Tuesdays and start our drunken proclamations with “When Woodward’s closed in June…” And it will be. We know it. It’s how we choose to live, with a rock-solid certainty that our hockey team is the best in the world, and any Cup that doesn’t come home to Detroit is a slight against nature. A Cupless year is an exception. In every city but ours it’s an accepted norm.
But, by god, with those expectations comes a price and it’s a toll that’s paid in ways fans of other teams would never understand. Baby Jesus and Steve Yzerman promised us long ago that the Stanley Cup would be ours with a regularity that would create a degree of envy around the league that approaches insanity. But when we boarded this train we did so with the understanding that along with the highs, there would be gutter-swilling lows.
And the fear of those lows is why you hate days like today. It’s why there isn’t a single member of the 19 who can look to April as a month of warmth and re-birth. Spring means searing pain and an emotional wrecking ball that smashes into our living rooms every other night. The playoffs suck because there are no moral victories. The playoffs suck because real-life can never match our expectations but our expectations never waiver.
No other group of fans has a right to worry the way we do because none of them have any idea what it’s like when the most talented team in hockey disappoints them. We live in a state of terror that we’ll have to experience that again. It’s gut wrenching and it’s destructive. Do you really think anyone in Phoenix has had an ex tell a mediator that the biggest problem in their relationship is that their spouse cares more about the Coyotes than the marriage?
And if so, did the accused spouse answer with, “Well..only during the playoffs.” Guilty as charged. Why?
Because I’m a Red Wing fan and I know what I should rightfully expect. I’m all in. Just like you. All frigging in. We don’t set ourselves up for dealing with failure. We don’t temper our expectations or prepare to be happy with a strong, but fruitless, effort. We begin the playoffs with a rock-solid knowledge that the Detroit Red Wings will win the Stanley Cup because that’s How Life Is Supposed To Work. You want to walk into these playoffs wondering, sputtering, guessing and wishful? Head up and left to Vancouver. You are cocky. You are entitled. You are Red Wing fans.
You fear the playoffs because the worst could happen, and it has. But it’s a chance you take when you don that McCarty jersey. You hate the playoffs because it’s easier than embracing them like the lemmings and the wishful thinkers. It’s not fun until it’s over and it’s not going to be over, this year, for another two months. Horrible calls. Injuries. Losses that cause tantrums, pet sacrifices, counseling and fractured relationships.
It’s your own damn fault. Nobody forced you to board this train. Nobody made it some law that says you have to be a Wing fan, you know. You could have given the game up long ago, during the dark times, the pre-Captain era. You could have taken that easy way out. But you didn’t, and now there’s no turning back. So deal with it however you can. Or like I do. Accept it because you know that history tells us you have a better chance than anyone for a reward that you know better than anyone else.
All aboard bitches. 16 to 12.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org