The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/25/11 at 02:19 PM ET
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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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.