"Ladies and Gentlemen! May I have your attention in the center rink? Introducing the 2008 Stanley Cup Champions, Your Detroit Red Wings!"
The cheers are deafening, the clapping thunderous as the Red Wings take to the ice led by Captain Nicklas Lidstrom and starting goaltender Dominik Hasek.
They come out onto the ice like a king walking into his court—heads high, almost marching in unison onto the frozen pond of the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Hockeytown's favorite son.
They stare at their opponents, not with contempt, but with a glint in their eyes. And then, all at once, they toss their sticks toward the other team, in the fashion of the heyday New York Yankees, daring them to, "Go ahead, try and beat us."
They skate toward their home team bench, fans still cheering just as loudly, streamers pouring from the rafters, confetti covering the ice. In strides, their head coach, Mike Babcock, followed closely by his assistant coaches, take their positions behind the bench.
The crowd goes totally wild. The sound of the organist and the announcer are drowned out by the applause and cheers. He is barely heard as he announces the Champion's starting line-up:
"Starting at center, No. 13, Pavel Datsyuk.
On left wing, No. 96, Tomas Holmstrom.
On right wing, No. 40, Henrik Zetterberg.
On left defense, No. 5, the Captain, Nicklas Lidstom.
On right defense, No. 24, Chris Chelios.
And your goaltender, No. 39, Dominik Hasek!"
Again, the crowd cannot be silenced as one by one the named players enter the ice from the bench. Thunderous applause comes from every corner of The Joe. Hearts are racing as the Wings meet their opponents at center ice, along with the referee, for the opening face-off.
Just before the puck drops, a hush falls over the crowd, so silent a pin can be from heard across the arena. The anticipation is endless. Everyone waiting breathlessly and then...
I awake from a sound sleep, take a shower, and head off to work, all the time knowing that tonight that's what's going to take place during the first Red Wing playoff game in my living room.