Wednesday, April 14, 2010

1st round playoff preview, as promised

This thing is a monster, even after I took out the three paragraphs on comparative symbology. I will totally understand if you just skip to the boobs at the end.

When the Winnipeg Jets moved out to the barren deserts of Arizona for the 1996-97 season, they weren't exactly expected to have immediate and bounding success and draw in a large, thriving, profitable fanbase. At least, I really hope they weren't, because they didn't. They really, really didn't. The success they had was small, and the truly devoted fans they garnered were scant. But this season, despite bankruptcy, despite nearly being moved half-way across the continent again, despite years of being one of the jokes of the league, proof positive that the southern US was no place to have hockey, the team overcame, and, as 4th seed in the western conference, have a legitimate shot at Lord Stanley's Cup. As a fan of hockey, and of sports in general, I want this Cinderella story to be able to warm my heart with the fuzzy feelings only achieved by watching bands of brothers overcome adversity prehistoric tribal-style, by beating down all the bigger, meaner tribes with sticks and then hugging it out at the victory feast.

Unfortunately, Cinderella's playing the Wings first round, so there will be no such fuzziness.

The Team:

This is a Coyote venturing out onto a road to meet its ancient
enemy the flying tire in glorious battle

This year, I think the Wings' biggest threat will be not treating the Coyotes as a legitimate threat. They seeded above us, and Babcock's no idiot, so my fears are probably unfounded, but I don't think the Red Wings are used to the mindset of "ok, we're below them, so we're going to have to be really careful and try to upset", and they also have a history of not always bringing their A-game to the ice when they're playing someone they're not scared of. And you know Ilya Bryzgalov's going to be a whore.

There's also going to be a few familiar faces:

Yep. Matheiu Schneider's still in the NHL.

So is Robert Lang.

And while Ed Jovanovski has never been a Red Wing, at least one current member of the team is very, very familiar with him.

omg get a room, you two.

The Fans:

First of all, to get this out of the way, are you one of those people who love a good internet battle, but haven't been online in like three days? You should look here, here, and especially here. Now onto business.

I write this entry (and indeed, every entry of this blog) under the assumption that at least nine of the ten people reading it will accept the following as common knowledge:

1. The economy in Michigan sucks hardcore, and lots of Michiganders have been forced to move out to the booming west

2. You don't stop following the sports teams you followed as children (and your parents followed as children, and your grandparents, and your own children) just because the desert is the only place you seem to be able to keep your family fed and clothed.

Phoenix, however, seems to be under the impression that you should just cheer for whatever team you happen to live most near. Rebuttals have been undertaken by better writers than I. If that's the actual mindset of the fans and media, then I pity the Coyotes their fly-by-night bandwagon. I'd never ask any legitimate fan of any team to forgo their loyalties based on something as stupid as geography (especially not in the internet age), and I'm more than slightly offended that there are other people out there willing to ask this of Red Wings fans, who during the playoffs, I consider one and all to be family.

Furthermore, in yet another sad attempt to usurp the authority of the octopus tradition, the fans have embraced the idea of throwing snakes (I'm assuming rubber) onto the ice, to support their team, rattlesnakes being indigenous to the area. On the one hand, I'm inclined to agree with PuckDaddy - this could be the rallying point the fanbase needs. You don't hear "Winnipeg" or "Hamilton" and think "snakes live there"; you might when you hear "desert" or "Arizona". The snakes would represent the fact that this team belongs to Phoenix, belongs in Phoenix, and though it might not have the rafters filled with championship banners and retired numbers, it will bite if cornered.

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure no one in Phoenix thought this far into it, and the snakes are only there to piss off Wings fans by farting on a tradition that celebrates its 58th anniversary today. Those are real unclassy intentions, guys.

Also, the comments to this post, suggesting that instead of throwing them, the fans wave them above their heads, one in each hand, make me think we're about to watch a hockey game played in an arena full of Minoan fertility idols.

Yeah, you didn't know this post was going to be about anthropology, did you? (And before you get excited about all the Coyote fans showing up topless, remember that they're Coyote fans, so they'll be wearing white shirts.) (and they'll mostly be guys.) (and they won't like you because you're wearing red.) (You'll be wearing red, right? You have to wear red.)

The puck drops at 10pm eastern. We'll have our coffee in one hand and our barf bag in the other. Go Wings.


Scott said...

Coyotes fans, like Hawks fans, are so sad. They happen to finally have a good year and they think they are owed the Stanley Cup. It's a shame the Hawks won't be playing the Coyotes in the playoffs because it would be a series full of epic "fan" stupidity.