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Are Wings fans allowed to boo their team for poor home-ice performances before the game’s over?

As the Detroit Red Wings were in the process of dropping their second straight home game and fourth of their six February home dates during their 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, more than a few fans at Joe let their team know that yet another 2-0 first-period deficit, courtesy of a short-handed goal given up within the last minute of play, wasn’t acceptable.

They did so by booing the Red Wings off the ice, and given the lack of bang for fans’ bucks and the Wings’ disheartening 7-9-and-2 home record of late, I didn’t have a problem with a few thousand leather-lunged fans letting their team know that they were a little tired of a predictable on-ice product.

The issue of daring to boo the Red Wings at home, after only one period of play, touched a particularly tender nerve for WXYT’s Jeff Riger, and after discussing the issue during last night’s post-game show, he penned a rather lengthy column dissing those who issued disrespect, if you will:

There seems to be a new fad at Joe Louis Arena… booing. And I just don’t get it! It first happened a couple weeks ago when the Wings had just lost their 3rd in 4 games, as they left the ice against the Nashville Predators and it was the talk of our station. “Can fans really boo the Wings?” our hosts including myself asked the public and the answer is yes. I have always been a firm believer that if a team does not give you what seems to be 100% effort then by all means boo them. You can’t confront them on the ice or field, you don’t have players cell phone numbers to call them and tell them about your displeasure, so yes let the “boo birds” loose and let your feelings be known.

But what happened Thursday night at the Joe was more than booing, it was booing for no reason and that is something that I just don’t understand. The Wings had fallen behind to the Dallas Stars 2-nothing after the 1st period and as the players left the ice, Wings fans let the home team have it. Now I guess there could have been legitimate reasons for the booing, like inflated gas prices, the fact that “Two and a Half Men” just got cancelled or even that Justin Beiber cut his hair, but the Joe would hardly be the venue for those types of gripes. We have to face the facts: Fans were booing the players for another slow start, I guess, and the question is, why? If you watched the 1st period on Thursday night you would know that the two goals that beat Jimmy Howard were fluky at best. The Mike Ribero score was just bad luck as a puck went off Brad Stuart leaving the net wide open and the second goal was a shorthanded breakaway by Loui Erickson that Howard had little to no chance at. I get being upset about the “Shorty” and I understand that bad starts have plagued this team all season long, but is this where we now stand as fans? Are we this soft?

Before coming home for a two game home stand against the Sharks and Stars, the Wings had won 5 games in a row. Detroit continues to have the second best record in the Western conference and if the season were to end today our hockey heroes would have the third most points in the NHL. Also, let’s not forget that the Wings have had numerous injuries throughout the course of the season but yet they still found a way to get points on a given night and put themselves in a great situation to get another high seed in the playoffs. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is a good hockey team, so why are you booing? The better question is why are you booing before the game is even over? At the point where the boos originated, there were still 40 minutes of game time left. How many times this season alone have you seen Detroit come back from similar deficits? The answer is more than I can count on my hands and toes and your hands and toes as well.

Doesn’t this team deserve the benefit of the doubt? For the past 2 decades the Wings have not only been the best in the NHL but the best organization in sports. You know the stats! The amount of cups, Western conference finals appearances, the numerous President trophies’ and the fact that this team has made the post season 19 consecutive times are all second to none. This is not the Lions who have continuously let fans down throughout the course of my life. It’s not the Tigers with another second half collapse, and it’s definitely not the Pistons because people actually are going to the Joe which is more than can be said for the Palace. So again I ask, how can you boo after one period?

Riger argues that fans who boo the Wings come off as “uneducated” and “whiney,” and he goes so far as to suggest that any fan base who dares to boo its tea after only 20 minutes of play should be booed by the team for abandoning the cause with the balance of the game yet to be played.

If this was an, “Every time the Wings have a bad period, they’re booed off the ice” phenomenon, I’d agree, but given the Wings’ awful home record of late and the way things were going on Thursday night—once Eriksson scored his short-handed goal, perhaps the only goal that Howard “should have had,” the wind seemed to go out of the Wings’ sails until Tomas Holmstrom finally broke through Kari Lehtonen by employing a novel tactic in lifting the puck over him—I thought that fans had every right to tell their team that their first-period effort was unacceptable.

Moreover, with the exception of a *few* boos at the end of the game, the fans let out their frustrations and went back to chanting, “Let’s go Red Wings,” cheering the team along and only voicing their displeasure at the referees, not the players. The outburst of boos really was a one-time thing, and I just don’t agree with Riger’s position that it somehow demeans the entire fan base and the effort the team put forth over the balance of the game.

Sometimes it’s better to get it out of your system and move on. That’s my take on it, and I’d like to hear yours.

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Comments

Avatar

In my opinion booing is not a sign of disrespect at all… not buying tickets anymore to home games would be a sign of disrespect.  Its not like tickets in the NHL are all 10 tickets for $10 with 10 free beers, 10 free hot dogs, and 10 free lap dances as they are down in florida.  When you drop over $100.00 for you and your friend to go watch a game and its another ho-hum performance, why they hell would anyone question booing.  Disrespect?  Whatever!

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 02/25/11 at 03:30 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I agree—its $65 to sit below the railing separating the lower half of the upper bowl from the upper half, and the prices go up from there. I think that fans are entitled to have an opinion given that…

Well, Michigan’s still Michigan and people are shelling out a rather disproportionate share of dough to attend games.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/25/11 at 03:35 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

I’ve got no problem with it at all, at any time.  If you paid for your ticket, that is your prerogative.

But especially last night.  The whole first period, DET were two steps behind DAL, and playing with no determination whatsoever.  The shorty was the last fricking straw.  DET should have been embarrassed by that lack of effort.

I’d have been booing lustily.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 02/25/11 at 03:37 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The Mike Ribero score was just bad luck as a puck went off Brad Stuart leaving the net wide open and the second goal was a shorthanded breakaway by Loui Erickson that Howard had little to no chance at

Like Ribeiro was wide open on the back door as a fluke?  That one hurt more because it was Datsyuk’s man.

And like the Loui Erikson breakaway was “just one of those things”.  Yeah, just one of those turnovers by Niklas Kronwall. 

The fans were booing shitty effort and it was the culmination of a lot of frustration about how they had been playing at home. 

Maybe if the Erikson goal hadn’t been another of the Budd Lynch specials, the fans wouldn’t have booed.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/25/11 at 03:44 PM ET

pucked up's avatar

Booing to me is not the fans saying, “We expect more of you”, but instead the fans saying, “You should expect more of yourself”, and, “We don’t want you to live up to your potential, we want you to redefine the meaning of the word because we know you’re better than what you’re showing us.”  That’s respect.

Posted by pucked up on 02/25/11 at 03:57 PM ET

Avatar

When did hockey become tennis? Of course fans can boo if they want to. I prefer to get a chant going when they look flat, but if they aren’t enticed by the carrot, you gotta give them the stick.

To accept that a team is not playing well and is incapable of better,  now that to me is the worst type of disrepect - that of low expectations.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 02/25/11 at 04:21 PM ET

Alzy's avatar

I would’ve let them have it for that pathetic effort. It’s mind-boggling to think thisvthe same team that looked so good only last week. How do they go from soul-crushing the Bruins to letting the Sharks and Stars have their way with them? I don’t care how “desparate” they are, they have no business beating that team from Detroit, if the team from Detroit gets off their asses and plays to Red Wing-like levels.

I just don’t understand how they could not want to make their opponent bend over every night. Was it not fun to beat the piss out of Boston and Tampa? That had to have been a great feeling, knowing they were a few notches above those two teams. So why not do that every night? Why not crush the spirit of Kari Lehtonen and his douche minions instead of giving them life. You have that power Detroit, and it’s time you start using it.

LET’S GO RED WINGS(exclamation point)

Posted by Alzy from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada on 02/25/11 at 05:08 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

I fully support the booing.  The Wings have played like crap the last 2 seasons at home and the fans are sick of it.  Look at last years playoffs, they lost 2 of 3 home games to Phoenix, including an ass kicking in a Game 6 where they could have won the series, and then blew a must win Game 3 against SJ.  This year has been much of the same after the first month of the season.  They just don’t play sharp at all in front of the home crowd, like they take it for granted a home game means a win, much like they do in games against inferior teams.  The Wings have had a major lack of focus the last 2 seasons, and it needs to change quickly or we may get a repeat of last Spring.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 02/25/11 at 05:12 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Well, I guess it’s just the way I was raised, but I could never “boo” my team.  That said, I understand the comments made by the other posters.  I was completely puzzled and frustrated by the game last night.  The Wings do have a pattern the past two seasons of struggling at home and letting bottom feeder teams beat us.  And that is hard to understand.  If I’m a Red WIngs player, pride alone, if nothing else, would get me going.  (Watching Burish sucker punch Franzen with a cage on his own face made me want the Wings to beat the crap out of them.)  But back to the booing - Riger is right when he points out the Wings’ place in the standings.  I do think Red Wings fans are a little spoiled and maybe sometimes expect perfection in every game, which isn’t realistic.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 02/25/11 at 06:30 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Riger can suck it - long and vigorously. 

There’s plenty to be discouraged about with our boys when their talent level is so disproportionate to the effort given.  The one goal that pisses me off the most this past week was the Thornton to Setoguchi goal in a game I really wanted.  The backcheck was so severely lacking that I saw that happened all the way down from the mid-circles.  I thought to myself, “That is the best play I’ve ever seen from the Sharks because it was both skill and will.”

Something needs to be done to kick our boys in the balls and get going.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 02/25/11 at 06:39 PM ET

cainer4wingsglory's avatar

  Look at last years playoffs, they lost 2 of 3 home games to Phoenix, including an ass kicking in a Game 6 where they could have won the series, and then blew a must win Game 3 against SJ.

I would argue that ground zero of the Wings home struggles is game 7 of the cup finals. Ever since that moment, home ice advantage means virtually nothing to me. Whatever mystique the Joe might’ve had went out the window on that fateful day. If an inferior team like the Pens can come into our house on the biggest stage and take what is rightfully ours, then why should any other team be intimidated? Just like Austin Powers, this team needs to find it’s mojo @ home. At this rate I’m not sure that home ice advantage is really an advantage…

LGRW!!!

Posted by cainer4wingsglory on 02/25/11 at 06:54 PM ET

EpeeBill's avatar

I think the fans were jumping the gun a bit last night. I mean, let’s not turn the Joe into a cauldron of negativity like Nassau Coliseum. That wouldn’t be good for the fans or the players.

But, yeah, fans have the right to boo the home team, if they think they deserve it. Last night, though, I’m not sure they did.

Posted by EpeeBill on 02/25/11 at 07:16 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Apologies to friends or family of Mr. Riger, but he and the other employees of that ”sports” station should just continue to ignore Hockey the way they do the other 364 days of the year. I find Mr. Riger nearly unlistenable and he rarely strays from the party line of the Wings.

Posted by Down River Dan on 02/25/11 at 07:32 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Riger argues that fans who boo the Wings come off as “uneducated” and “whiney,” and he goes so far as to suggest that any fan base who dares to boo its tea after only 20 minutes of play should be booed by the team for abandoning the cause with the balance of the game yet to be played.

Fans booed. Fans stayed in the arena afterwards. Fans didn’t abandon the cause.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 02/25/11 at 08:04 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

It’s Detroit. The bar is set very high.

As a writer for the Hockey News recently said, Detroit is the organization by which all others should be judged. With high praise comes high expectations, even from fans.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 02/25/11 at 08:08 PM ET

SYF's avatar

It’s Detroit. The bar is set very high.

As a writer for the Hockey News recently said, Detroit is the organization by which all others should be judged. With high praise comes high expectations, even from fans.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste. Marie on 02/25/11 at 05:08 PM ET

Exactly.  Obviously, Riger has never seen the lesson from Luke 12:39-48, which is eminently displayed over the Wings’ dressing room:

courtesy of stonehands-78

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 02/25/11 at 09:11 PM ET

HockeyFanOhio's avatar

Booing after the first period may have been a bit much.  But for the entire game I can understand the sentiment.  Don’t think I would have gone it personally.

Posted by HockeyFanOhio from Central Ohio on 02/26/11 at 12:38 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Booing after the first period may have been a bit much.

True, but booing early might’ve woken up the team.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 02/26/11 at 02:15 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

I would argue that ground zero of the Wings home struggles is game 7 of the cup finals. Ever since that moment, home ice advantage means virtually nothing to me.

*#$%@& that. This team hasn’t been able to clamp down since Game 5 of the ‘08 Finals.

Posted by mrfluffy from Long Beach on 02/26/11 at 02:56 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.