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Exploring the anger of the Detroit Red Wings fan

Apr 27, 2010, 4:16 PM EDT

RedWingsFan.jpgAs someone who covers the whole of the NHL, I do my best to remain as
objective as possible. I have no rooting interests either for or
against Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, or any other team or player. While
I have been a Dallas Stars fan my entire life and started off in this
line of work writing about them, I’ve yet to come across a time when
being a Stars fan has interfered with my take on any other team or
player.

That being said, I completely understand when fans get
protective of their team. I have championed Steve Ott for years, and
will continue to do so, even though 95% of the hockey world can’t stand
the guy. Anytime I see someone bashing Ott, I have to fight off the
desire to rush to his aid and to defend his honor; “….how dare someone
attack him like that?”

Still, I’m not irrational in my thinking
process. I know that Steve Ott has flaws, and there are times I just
want to put my head through the wall he does dumb things. So while I may
have the desire to defend him at all costs, I’m not going to blindly
defend Ott through any and all criticism, no matter what the attack may
be. Heck, they may be right about him. Sometimes.

Which is why I
don’t understand the blind defenses you see from certain fanbases. I
realize that calling out fans right now is a bit en vogue, and I really
don’t want to get into all that. But I guess I am, just by
writing this. So here goes…..

It is absolutely amazing to me the
speed and the ferocity that Red Wings will defend their team against any
and all criticism. We all know about the ‘tin foil hat’ conspiracy
theories that gain steam any goal is called into question, but it’s not
just the Red Wings consprieacy crazies that I’m referring to. It’s the
pack attack method in which they descend upon any form of criticism
directed at their team.

This afternoon, I was reading an article
on MLive.com by Detroit radio host Art Regner. Now, I’m not all too
familiar with Art’s work, but it seemed like a perfectly reasonable
article to me. He wrote that the hockey world is just waiting for a Game
7 loss tonight by the Red Wings, as it would finally signal the
beginning of the end of a historic run by the Red Wings.
Writes Art:

Make no mistake; the Wings have their collective reputations on the
line tonight in the desert. So many times hockey’s pundits have wanted
to write Detroit’s epitaph. So many times hockey’s elites have labeled
them old and done. So many times opposing general managers have
‘leaked’ that Detroit’s star players are overrated and basically not
that good.

Begrudgingly Detroit has been given praise for their enormous
accomplishments on the ice but, if they fall tonight, it will sadly
signal that the Wings’ run of dominance has sputtered and their decline
has officially begun.

Art goes on to say that the talent level of Detroit has decreased
with the salary cap, to the point that they are now facing elimination
at the hands of the Phoenix-freaking-Coyotes. Perhaps the team is
missing some of the veteran role players of the past, that’s hurt the
team as the superstars have sputtered at times in the series. The
Coyotes are a team that wins as a team; if the Wings aren’t getting
production from their star players they have issues.

Not exactly what Red Wings fans want to hear, but I doubt it’s worth a
personal attack. Yet that’s exactly what happened here, as Wings fans
descended upon him in the comments section like piranhas on a bloody
carcass in a pond.

They called his article “garbage.” Multiple times in fact. Called Art
“talentless”, “delusional” and his opinion a “joke”. Also, by saying
that it’s possible the Red Wings could be headed for trouble he
obviously “knows nothing about hockey”.

I know, I know….it’s not smart to read the comments for these
things. But it’s what you see all the time. In fact, I’ve experienced it
myself when
I wrote earlier this season
that perhaps the Red Wings were closing
in on their final window for success. By just bringing up the fact that
Detroit is getting older and isn’t exactly the dynasty it once was, I
was attacked.

George Malik, a very loyal and
beloved Red Wings blogger
, is great at what he does. But I’ve seen
countless times where he reacts with an air of appall and disdain
towards anyone that suggests something critical of his team. Suggest
that perhaps Holmstrom or Lidstrom retire? Then you have no clue what
you are talking about, young sir, and should be put out to pasture. By the way I have nothing against George, it’s just an observation.

I’m not even going to link to the Red Wings blog article that was in
response to Greg Wyshynski’s revealed Norris Trophy ballot that didn’t
have Nicklas Lidstrom in the top three. That was one vicious and angry
piece of writing. So it’s not just the commenters, although that’s where most of the anger seems to stem from; there are multiple areas across the interwebs this blind “defend at all costs” mentality comes from.

I also realize and know that not all Red Wings fans are like this. In fact, one of my best blogger friends is a Red Wings fan. So if you aren’t a crazed and angry blogger or commenter on the internet, then ignore me.

So what’s the point of all this? Am I calling out a fan base? I guess
I am. Look, everyone has the right to defend their team, but sometimes
it goes a bit overboard into “loony land”…I’m looking at you Caps
fans.

And I realize this is the internet; it’s the land of anonymous
personal attacks. That’s never going to stop. But Red Wings fans, I have
to ask why you are so defensive. Is it because you’re tired of people
suggesting your insanely successful, four-time Stanley Cup winning team
(in the past 20 years) may actually be mortal? If so, then take a
breather.

This doesn’t apply only to Red Wings fans, it all fans. It’s just
hockey. Perhaps when someone suggests your team has
flaws they might be right.

I know it doesn’t happen often, but sometimes….they might be right.

  1. jack - Apr 27, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    I’m a Wings fan and very proud to be one. I’m not always proud of the way our fans act and comment on the internet, although I’m not always ashamed, either. There are some good (albeit sometimes overly feisty) Red Wings blogs out there, and I like Malik.
    That being said, we’re discussing comments on the internet. It’s a fact of life that comments on the internet are 95% awful and should usually just be ignored (yes, I get the irony of writing that in a comment).
    Why do the Wings fans seem worse? I think it’s just that they have a larger fanbase than most teams. Larger fanbases are likely to have more obnoxious fans, even if it’s proportionally the same amount as other teams. The obnoxious fans are more likely to comment and, ergo, now everyone thinks Wings fans are jerks. I bet Caps and Penguins fans seem overzealous too, no? Also large and proud fanbases with contentious writing about their teams that leads to comments.

  2. Ibanez - Apr 27, 2010 at 4:58 PM

    What?! Are you crazy? Ott should be sainted! ;-D
    go Yotes, got a bet riding on you.

  3. j-daddy - Apr 27, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    I live in Michigan (though a Penguins fan!) and I’ve never understood the anger, especially this year. The Red Wings are the of the NHL cadillac of the NHL, and have been for 20 years. Currently the Wings are on the way down, they are getting old, but it happens to every championship team. The Wings used to be very good at reloading, but that’s harder to do now in the age of the salary cap, and Detroit fans are seeing that first hand.
    You get spoiled when you win a lot of championships, and anything less than that begins to feel like a big disappointment, and the venting about it has risen to ferocious levels this season.
    Considering how poorly the Wings started the year, Detroiters should just be happy getting (at least) a game 7, they had to scrape and claw just to get in the playoffs. They’ve also got a lot of great young talent which bodes well for the future: Helm, Howard, Abdelkader.
    I’m sure Penguins fans will be insufferable soon enough too . . . . .

  4. tom - Apr 27, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    It’s human nature.
    These teams almost become an extension of self, and any negative comment takes on the illusion of a personal attack to some people.
    The thing about being the top dog is that you can’t remain on the top forever. Eventually even Rome fell.
    And the problem about always being on top, is that people are just waiting for you to fall from your throne (another human flaw of ours).
    Another problem with constantly being attacked for being the hot shot, is that you tend to develop a short fuse when it comes to defending yourself.
    It’s how losers make themselves feel better, and how winners are taught to deal with their success.
    Ultimately only 1 team is going to win the cup. And whether the Red Wings win or lose, I don’t see how that signifies the fall of a dynasty. There’s always next year. And players come and go.

  5. MICKEY - Apr 27, 2010 at 6:48 PM

    I am a RedWing Fan from the days of Howe, Delvecchio, Sawchuck. I have watched them lose more game 7’s then any other hockey team in
    the last 50 years. The RedWings are not playing RedWing hockey.
    They are inconsistent..but so is most the league. Sunday wsa disgraceful.
    I will root for them tonight but I don’t think they will win. I hope I am wrong but the last game 7 on the road was against hicago in ’64. Last year was a great team and with any health at all they would have rolled over the Pens. This is not last year. Love yoiur team no matter what. Most times the best team doesn’t win the Cup
    just the hottest. 3 teams were feared in the West. Det, Phoenix and nashville because of their end of year streaks. No one wanted the Wiongs or the Coyotes-too hot. Well one must lose. 4 of 6 have been won by the road team. Crazy series. Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playofffs.
    We are first and foremost hockey fans and we love the game. Let’s celebrate this as brothers and sisters of the greatest game on earth. We dont win most the time only one team can win the Cup.
    I hate it when my team goes down and Detroit was down for many years–
    too many in my opinion. I am glad for the 4 Cups and if it turns out to be 5 this year–better yet. Howard will have to step it up tonight and the special teams is going to have to play hungry-other
    Pheonix will win by a couple.

  6. angry red wings fan - Apr 27, 2010 at 7:26 PM

    Malik made some pretty good points in a follow up article here.

  7. schtimpy27 - Apr 27, 2010 at 8:20 PM

    This piece was so dead on it should be illegal.
    I’ve often feel like I’m a bad fan because I’m missing that blind loyalty. I wish I could be so hopeless devouted and convinced of greatness. But really, my team and my players screw up all the time. I still enjoy everything about the game, even if my team chokes (like they do), or my favorite player overstays his abilities (like he’s done).
    My team and my favorite players… they aren’t the best. But they are damn awesome, and that is ok.

  8. Scott - Apr 27, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    Dead on accurate, and sadly so. I’ve been a huge Wings fan since 1977 and I deeply dislike this trend toward nastiness among Wings fans.
    My best Wings friend and I often fret about the foul, defensive, obnoxious fans in our midst. It’s embarrassing. I can only hope Jack is right, that it’s mostly a statistical phenomenon.

  9. Martin - Apr 27, 2010 at 10:50 PM

    While the Detroit Red Wings do have a certain amount of obnoxious fans (as do all pro sports franchises), you can’t judge the whole by the responses to an article written by Art Regner on MLive.com.
    In Detroit, maybe moreso than in other major market sports cities, we’re “blessed” with sports talk personalities that figure their job is to be contrarian and negative towards the home teams. It’s the Detroit Lions Effect, where low expectations are often rewarded and allow “I told you so’s” by the gloating radio hosts.
    MLive has a terrific crew of respected writers, such as Ansar Khan on the regular Red Wings beat. Khan is respected as an “insider,” whereas Regner is seen as just another one of many radio guys who dip in on a topic just to draw a reaction.

  10. mike - Apr 28, 2010 at 3:21 AM

    maybe its part of it is, like you said yourself, all the over criticizim they get every year. anyway, maybe you should be elvaluating philly fans. atleast we only throw insults. not snowballs, ice, full beer cans, batteries, etc…

  11. angry red wing fan - Apr 28, 2010 at 3:29 AM

    Game 7
    RED WINGS 6
    coyotes 1

  12. RP - Apr 28, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    Ah, the need to insult Philly fans. I knew that was coming in the comments. Never mind that you can document most of the same garbage coming from fans in the stands in New York, Boston, Cleveland, etc. And since this a hockey blog, I’d note that Flyers fans, despite being as unfriendly a fanbase as any in the NHL to the opposition, haven’t been the ones in Philly throwing batteries (Phillies), snowballs/iceballs (Eagles), or shooting off flares (Eagles again).
    On the point at hand… I have no earthly clue why Wings fans are so touchy — I get it coming from Caps fans, who have developed a pseudo-siege mentality related to their team’s painful past disappointments. I get their anger. And I would get it from fans of teams like Chicago, Toronto (although Canadians are generally more even-keel than American sports fans), Boston, or Philly. Those are towns with passionate fanbases who haven’t won a Cup in a long time.
    But Wings fans? If this was 1996, it would make sense. Instead, they’ve won 4 cups in the last 13 years, have a decent shot at another one, and have some of the best and most creative talents in the world playing for them. I cannot fathom how any fanbase would be angry over criticism after that run of success — I’d be more likely to laugh it off while trying to figure out which championship hat to wear.

  13. brendan - Apr 28, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    What fan base doesn’t do this? Thats what makes us “fans” of a certain team, idiot…

  14. mrbill - Apr 28, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    I too, am I Wings fan. In fact, they are the only sports team I follow. I rarely miss watching or going to a game.
    I’ve heard those obnoxious type of fans, but the majority of the fans are like me. We don’t “boo” other players or our team for losing games. We don’t chant other teams goalies name… followed by “You suck!”. Come to a Red Wing game and you’ll see, we love them but we aren’t crazed idiots. We don’t have to go off on someone in the media, even though I think Art Regner is a knucklehead. So don’t judge us by those responses. Sit next to us at Chicago game, in Chicago, where they chat “Detroit Sucks!” instead of “Let’s go Hawks!” – And listen to the other few Red Wings fans and myself support our team with “Let’s Go Red Wings!” until we are hoarse and can’t talk.
    We support our team, win or lose and we have faith they will move on and win again.

  15. 2late2matter - Apr 30, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    Now firmly believe that Brandon, Art and jack actually feel sad that Detroit – branded as old and over-the-hill – were winners of the PHX series (game 7 guys). Your collective angst must come from prematurely trying to pick the lively carcass of a team steeped with experience,pride, banners, and trophies. You have to acknowledge that the “experience factor” took this Red Wing team past younger, more-enthusiastic Coyotes.
    The nay-collective (N-C) must have cringed having heard that previous RW goalie Dominek Hasek helped his native team win the European equivalent of Lord Stanley’s cup or in hearing (today) that Jiri Hudler will be returning to the Wings from Russia for at least the next two seasons. Maybe y’all should resign yourselves to cheering for the team that contrary to the “wished” N-C continues to win. Let it go, Brandon. You too Art and jack. They’re just THAT good!

  16. J. - May 2, 2010 at 12:01 AM

    Mrbill,
    “but the majority of the fans are like me. We don’t “boo” other players or our team for losing games. We don’t chant other teams goalies name… followed by “You suck!”. Come to a Red Wing game and you’ll see”
    I’ve been to 10 games this year including Game 6. By my observance, you are incorrect. A majority of fans are (sadly) not like you or I. They booed the team in Game 6 after period two and in at least a few other games this year.

  17. Mike - May 7, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    Calling a few bloggers a “fan base” is idiotic.

  18. Redwg19 - May 9, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    Hey Brandon I’m that Angry Detroit fan your wondering about. Ever go to or even watch a Montreal or Toronto game in Canada? You think Detroit fan’s have problems. Also, You ought to go to a Chicago Blackhawk game when they play the Wings. mrbill hit it right on the head. These aren’t your “Happy go luck cubie fan’s here.” Sense they starting winning more than 20 games a year the last 2 years, and the crowd’s have gotten over 5000 people again they are Brutal. And as for them being down, you lose 80 plus goals in Hossa,Hudler,Samuelsson your going to struggle,and then having so many injurys out of the shoot they new they were going to struggle, with being up against the cap. They could have shut down and went 1-4 and trapped like the very limited at talent team of Phx. But they stayed with what they had and made the playoffs.Detroits front office is set for sometime and will reload. As for Steve Ott I have watched alot of hockey, him and Daniel Carcillo are alot alike.They have a little talent but if the want to be cheap shot as they do sticking that knee out, a little spearing,losts of checking from behind. They should be prepared to fight. Ott does more than Carcillo, but only after taking a few in the face. Maybe if you Dallas fan’s cared half as much as us Detroit fan’s or just 10% as much as your cowboy fans maybe Hicks wouldn’t have to sell the team. Poor Crawford got stuck with Tippet’s trapping left over’s and with Crawford’s style, and Tippet’s players Turco’s number went crazy. But of coarse your running him out of town for Kari Lehtonen who barely has played 80 games in the last 4 season. Good luck with all that

  19. General Observer - May 14, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    For the most part, many Red Wings fans are knowledgable, upbeat fans that love their team and have a right to be angry over certain things spoken about their team they deem is without justification. At the same time, I keep seeing statements like, “We’re the New York Yankees of hockey!”..I’m like…WHAT?
    You look at the history of the Detroit Red Wings. They won 2 Cups in the mid 30’s. Then starting in ’38 and for the next 20 years they were regularly in the playoffs (back when the top 4 teams made it) appearing in the finals 11 times winning the Cup 5 times. Then from the first half of the 60’s, (’60 to ’65) the Wings went to the finals 5 times losing each time. Now this was all in the pre-expansion era.
    Then comes expansion as in the next 6 seasons 10 teams are added from ’67-’72
    From 1967 forward, the Red Wings made the playoffs… twice in….16 seasons! Then of course Steve Yzerman came along (’83), and the team started to see post season play regularly. It wasn’t until the Wings changed Coaches letting Bryan Murray go and hiring Scotty Bowman (’93) that the organization became an elite team. Remember they lost to the New Jersey Devils in the ’94 finals, but 2 seasons later would win the first Cup since..1955. That’s over 40 seasons. So I see the Fan’s anger when shortcomings are pointed out. It’s easy to say, “Yeah, well we’ve won 4 Cups in X amount of years.” All people are comcerned about these days is, “What have you done right now?” At the same time, teams success go from season to season. I think the days of dynasties are over with the salary cap and free agency and fiscial management. You have to get teh right players within teh right salary structure. The GM’s are the new super stars these days.

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