With the NHL lockout dragging on, we’ll take a daily look back at some games from the Detroit Red Wings’ storied history…
Baseball is done. For all intents and purposes, football is too. Welcome to the dog days of winter across Michigan. Yes, this is when Hockeytown really starts to miss the Detroit Red Wings while feeling the full effects of another ugly NHL lockout.
Don’t forget, though, that one year ago, hockey memories were still being made one by one at Joe Louis Arena and other rinks across the country. It’s remarkable how much things can change in a year. Consider that on December 13, 2011, I was watching the Red Wings play the Pittsburgh Penguins chatting to the woman who would become my fiance in 2012. A Penguins fan, she couldn’t wait for her team’s first crack at this internet guy she knew from Hockeytown’s team.
“Are you excited? Our game is on tonight,” I goaded. “I have to study, but I’ll still be around at times during the game,” she replied. I then proceeded to razz her about that. What dedicated medical school student would pair hockey with studying? I made sure to remind her I never put Red Wings hockey above my study time. Never. Nope. Not even in 2009, when I skipped mandatory review sessions during finals week to catch game two of the Western Conference Finals.
Evgeni Malkin scored first for Pittsburgh near the end of the first period, and she could barely hold in her excitement. With some newfound bragging rights on the line, I was suddenly a bit testy. “I told you they stink on the road.” My excuse machine had kicked into full damage control already. When she departed to read a journal article in the second, luck evened out a bit, as Pavel Datsyuk’s wicked backhander beat Marc Andre Fleury for a tie score.
Neither one of us saw Johan Franzen’s go ahead goal, but we did see Dan Cleary make it 3-1 Red Wings, which emptied the Consol Energy Center to my delight.”Why are they leaving? Detroit fans would never do that prematurely,” I taunted. “It’s over, we know it’s over, she said. This night, the writing was on the wall. I was going to win what would become our first ever hockey rivalry game 4-1.
Nights like December 13, 2011 are what make the dog days of the NHL regular season special. In the background of games playing out, so many important and fun moments happen within an 82 game schedule. Last week, my fiance told me it felt like hockey didn’t even exist anymore. That about sums things up, especially as false hope and labor news dominate the daily headlines. Yuck.
Until there’s a resolution of some kind, we’re only left with our own memories of special moments that played out just like last year’s meeting between the Red Wings and Penguins.