Thursday, March 29, 2012

DBJ's bonus thought on Game 77: Detroit

Columbus 4 - Detroit 2
25-45-7, 5th in Central Division, 30th in NHL
First off, please do not let this post in any way deter you from Gallos' eloquent reflection on last night's game against the Detroit Red Wings.   His "recap" post eloquently captured the night in a way that I won't even try to do.  (And thanks to Gallos for covering for me...I was in bed earlier than I recall for a long, long time.)

That being said, I wanted to share and expand upon a thought that I offered up last night.

As you probably know if you've been paying attention to this blog, I grew up a Detroit Lions NFL fan.  And barring a very brief period at the beginning of my fanhood (when Billy Sims ran wild over the NFL) and a yo-yo stretch of ridiculous highs (and lows) in the 90's where I had moved out of Michigan and settled in Indiana for school and eventually life with my betrothed, the Lions pretty much stunk up the league.  

When the Lions won, the turducken tasted great.
The team was so bad that they couldn't sniff Monday Night Football.  They couldn't get a "national TV game" on Sundays if team owner William Clay Ford wheeled a fleet of free Explorers into the ABC/ESPN/FOX parking lots.  Their brand of football often was so atrocious that, simply put, no one wanted to see it.  Well, outside of the masochistic fans in the Detroit media market and those who, like me, moved away but wanted to keep in touch (and hence subscribed to DirecTV for the purpose of watching the worst announcers FOX and NBC/CBS had calling the games).

But we had Thanksgiving.

Once a year, thanks to whatever arm-twisting/bribery/lurid photos that Mr. Ford used with the NFL schedulers, the networks were on national television.  And not only that, but they were the only game on television.  And not only that, but the game was being called by the networks' top announcing team.

That's not to say the team was good.  Far from it on too many Thanksgivings.  In fact, the NFL usually had to prop up the game by putting a Super Bowl participant from the prior year in as the adversary for the Lions just in order to generate some semblance of public interest in the game.  (Well, that and the eminently-worthy Barry Sanders.)  As often as not, the Lions lost.  Occasionally, they lost in spectacular fashion.

But every now and then, they won.

And I tell you that to explain my feelings about last night's game.

The Lions knew that Thanksgiving often was their one chance in a given season for national exposure.  They practiced harder the week prior, they probably game-planned a month in advance (once the season was lost by late October, granted) and they played their tails off.  It was their one chance to show the world that they were actual professionals and not a bunch of chumps collecting a paycheck.

And every now and then, they won.  Sure, the season stunk to high heaven, but that was a brief moment of joy for the team and its fans.  Detroit reminded the world that it was a legitimate NFL town with a legitimate NFL least for a game.

Allen "Sergeant" York had one heck of a first NHL win last night.
Last night conjured up all of those memories for me.  It was the Blue Jackets' one shot at hosting a national TV game with NBC Sports Net's top announcing team (who displayed an impressive unfamiliarity with the team they were covering - Olcyzk excepted...he's seen the Blue Jackets while calling Blackhawks games).

And the boys came to play.  They clearly wanted to put on a show for the country, and they did.  The forwards pushed the puck up the ice and scored.  The defensemen largely didn't leave rookie goaltender Allen "Sergeant" York out on an island like they have to poor (once again injured) Steve Mason so many times this season.  The Blue Jackets had the Red Wings out of sorts all night long.

It was the Blue Jackets' Super Bowl, their Thanksgiving game, their playoff game seven.  They literally had one chance to show America that legitimate professional hockey can be played in Columbus, Ohio and took full advantage of the opportunity.

5 games left.  The off-season can't come soon enough.

1 comment:

  1. I like "Sargent" as a nickname; but, since his first name is Allen, "Alvin" works just as nicely. Let's hope he plays well enough to stick in the organization so that we can use whichever nickname we prefer!


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