The two cities I have called home since I left Michigan three years ago, are not filled with Red Wings sympathizers. Quite to the contrary. They are filled with the most poisonous of Wings haters. I hung my hat in The Windy City for two, very long years, and listening to the opinions of uninformed, and rather bitter Hawks fans, not only tried my patience (which is not one of my virtues), but also probably took a few years off my life. It was beyond a stressful experience. A welcomed twist of then fate pointed me in Denver’s direction, which is where I reside today. A move to San Jose would complete this “Axis of Wings-Hate”, but I don’t see that happening. Let me tell you a bit what it’s like to be a Wings fanatic behind enemy lines.
Chicago has a rich hockey history, both recent and distant, and few people there seem to know or care much about it. The local dive bar I frequented there was home base to a bit of an older crowd. I became a regular and quite friendly with both the staff and the patrons. Living just down the street from Wrigley Field, I was constantly inundated with Cubs chatter. Being that baseball is my LEAST favorite sport, I jumped at every opportunity to change the subject to hockey. A pleasant, rather lonely seeming older man, enjoyed imparting the stories of his life to me on a regular basis, oblivious to whether I was interested or not (I was not). When the talk turned to hockey, he gave me his Bobby Hull story. “Ok, this guy has been a fan for a while. Maybe he knows his stuff.” This thought quickly vanished when his next statement hit my ears: “I’ve never been able to understand the offsides rule.” Chicago is a gorgeous, intoxicating place. It’s filled with with millions of very busy people with very busy lives. It is a magnet for young professionals, a category I don’t care to be put in. I’ve heard it said about tempers that a man is only as big as the things he gets angry over. I’ve also heard it said, that a temper is a guys way of showing his intolerance for what he finds intolerable. I’m butchering both of these quotes, but you get the picture. Point being, Hawks fans made me absolutely furious. Chants of “Detroit Sucks” and that seizure inducing goal song that is played at their home games, are two things I will not miss, to put it mildly. Am I being childish and petty, or a stalwart and courageous? You can decide. I did not think it could get worse in terms of Wings hatred until I moved to Denver.
Now Denver, is obviously very different than Chicago. It’s a smaller, quieter town, filled with some very interesting characters who seem to be more experience driven than career driven, as opposed to the Chicago crowd. The friends I have here, most of them fellow Michiganders, made it very clear to me that Avalanche fans still have great animus towards the winged wheel. “Still? Don’t they know this rivalry ended almost ten years ago?” No, they don’t. They still hate us passionately. Now of course, I understand why we are hated, and I point this out to my antagonists whenever the debate begins. “You hate us because we have been crushing you, along with every other team, with relative ease for a long time. We are the best.” As you can guess, the other side does not like hearing this. But facts can be irritating things, and I feel it is my role as a fan, to defend my team against these attacks. The laid back attitude that is prevalent in Denver, completely disappears when the Wings are mentioned, and is replaced with a deep seeded aggression and hostility. It’s actually a rather fascinating transformation to watch happen in real time. So, my friends, know that there is a Wings fanatic, fighting the good fight, and doing it deep inside enemy territory. I also quite like it here in The Mile High City, so rest assured, the fight will go on and as always, we will win.