Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"our boys".

That's what Audry and I affectionately call our favorite players on any given Detroit sports team. Last night, the phrase was used to speak of our beloved boys in red. When we got in the car post game, Jay-Z's, "On to the Next One" was appropriately playing; and after exchanging a set of smiles that beamed with satisfaction, we headed home. "Our boys did it", Audry said through an unfading grin, high on the victory of a team that tied up a playoff series 3-3 after being down 3 games to 0. Our boys lived to see another day, and it was food for our Detroit sports loving souls.

I've always liked playoff hockey. I love the confidence that's seemingly infused in a team like the Red Wings. I love that it's assumed we'll be in the playoffs yearly, because no matter how much you might love any other team more, the numbers don't lie. It's a fact that our boys current 20-year post-season streak, gives them the longest active run of any team of the four professional sports leagues... Now that's impressive. I love when the Joe is packed with painted faced kids and pompon shaking parents. I love hearing echoed chants of, "let's-go-red-wings!" in the background as Mickey Redmond keeps the outside world updated on the happenings down on the ice. And I love playoff beards [even if the baby-faced captains of my lifetime never seem to be quite able to grow them :) ].

You know I love my city, and you know I believe that life is filled with things that are worth celebrating. Which probably explains why my heart is filled with equal parts optimism and grit when the playoffs roll around. Because like a lot of things in this city, the celebration of victory requires a hard fight.

I'm a sucker for nostalgic commercials. There's one on TV now that shows highlights from the teams of yesteryear as they went on to win the Stanley Cup. Awesome goals, skating that defies physics, and the ultimate sight... the hoisting of the cup. And at the end of it, there's a shot of confetti raining down over a victory parade with the words, "history makes a mess" across the screen. It gives me chills every time. I've skipped school and work to be at those victory parades. I have vivid memories of Scotty Bowman giving a celebratory speech in Hart Plaza, while a giddy team smiled behind him as they eyed the thousands that joined their party. I remember seeing our boys drive by in red Corvettes and thinking that my Detroit boys looked so good in those Detroit designed cars. And I remember what it felt like to walk those streets with other fans and feeling the closest I'll ever get to being a crack addict... because I just wanted more.more.more.

So it shouldn't come to much of a surprise to you that when I find myself amidst the playoffs, there are a lot of feelings and emotions that race through me. I love the anxiety of the opposing team being too close for comfort to our goalie. I can't control the, "get that out of there!" shouts, and deep sighs as one of my boys clears the puck down center ice. I even kind of like the rawness of the way I bristle a bit when one of my boys gets tripped or an elbow to the chin. How I won't back down until they get the justice they deserve, and someone gets thrown in the penalty box. But how I can always justify when a Wing throws off their gloves to punch someone in the face... because I mean, seriously... would you just stand there?!

I love throwing on my Wings shirt and red shoes, I love hoping that Bertuzzi will start a fight or that someone from the other team will find out what it means to be "Kronwalled", but most of all, I love this...

photo borrowed from

The hockey smile.

I mean it... It's one of my all time favorite things. In the time it takes for a tiny puck to cross over the goal line, an entire game goes from being in the big leagues to feeling more like the pee-wee leagues. You don't see celebrations after scoring like that in any other professional sport. The high-fives, the hugs, and man oh man... those smiles. Sirens blast, fans cheer, and my boys light that place up.

photo borrowed from

I love it when my boys succeed.

I love that that success is reflected in gap filled smiles, skips on skates, and arms raised high. This time of year, one more "W" for my boys really is the best part. I'm sure that sometime tomorrow there will be a youtube link in my inbox that will take me to a Red Wings highlight clip. And in the message box will be something pertaining to our boys needing us to be fired up for them going into game 7. And we will. Because after all they are our boys. And when they're doing what they can do to raise not only that cup, but our city... we will do what we can to rise to the occasion as well. Red shoes and all.

Go Wings!

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