Confessions Of a Sheepish Red Wings Fan

Daniel MuthSenior Analyst IMay 26, 2009

DETROIT - OCTOBER 9:  Members of the Detroit Red Wings look on prior to their 2007-2008 Stanley Cup banner being raised to the rafters before to their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 9, 2008 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Leafs defeated the Wings 3-2. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Hello, my name is Daniel and I’m a Red Wings fan.

I am also a fan of the Detroit Tigers, Lions, and Pistons and am therefore definitely not the guy that roots for the Wings because they’re so good—in fact, their success makes me a little uncomfortable.

You see, I’m accustomed to rooting for the underdog.  I’m used to hating the Yankees and Patriots, while hoping that one day our undermanned guys will rise up and humble these indomitable forces with their legions of undeserving fans.

I’m accustomed to scheming about what we could do better, the free-agents we should be picking up, and the best ways to somehow euthanize Matt Millen.  Thankfully, this last concern is no longer an issue.

What’s more, I relish being a fan under these terms.  What kind of person are you really if your fandom extends beyond any semblance of loyalty, including only those teams that consistently win?

So when I was talking to a guy at the bar the other day and he said, “Yeah, I like the Steelers, Yankees, Lakers, and the Red Wings,” I about puked my beer all over his bandwagon britches.

“What!?!?!” I managed to stagger, my face turning redder than a Wings home jersey.

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And though all fans that casually root for the team of the moment bother me immensely, it was the inclusion of the Red Wings in his idiotic statement that really struck home. 

My God I’m a fan of an evil empire.

Never was this more apparent then it was this year, with the Wings pilfering Marian Hossa from the Penguins, and more recently by dispatching the Blackhawks in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals 6-1, without the services of either Pavel Datsyuk or Nikolas Lidstrom.

How incredibly deep is this team?  How is it that year-in and year-out the front office keeps making the right moves, with just the right mix of experience and youth?  How is it that players will take considerably less money for a chance to play for a winner?  How is it that this team is in Detroit of all places?

Everywhere I go I can find a contingent of Red Wings fans in any bar in the country come hockey season, yet never seem to run into them when I’m the only one braving a Lions jersey halfway through a winless nightmare.  Who are these Red Wings fans and where do they come from?  Any feedback below would be much appreciated.

I guess it’s that I’ve never had to really defend my fandom before.  I’ve never had to even think about clarifying my love for the Lions, because simply by admitting my devotion you can pretty much slot me into the “hardcore” department.

I’ve never had to defend my Pistons fandom, because even when they won, they were a unilaterally hated team, begrudged for their physical team play in a league of “superstars.” 

They never drew a particularly large national audience.

I’ve never had to somehow justify my interest in the Tigers, even when Magnum P.I. made them temporarily sexy, because they were so horrible for decades that even those who jumped on the train back in 1984 began to bleed away long ago.

So I’ll admit it.  Though I wear my Lions, Tigers, and Pistons gear with unadulterated pride, sometimes I feel a bit sheepish stepping into an out-of-state tavern wearing the Red Wings gear.

I’m a fan of an evil empire and that’s hard to live down.

But when push comes to shove, I’ve got to admit it’s nice to win.  When push comes to shove, I’ll welcome the Lions' bandwagoners the day they start to arrive because it’ll mean that the team is actually good.  When push comes to shove, I’m a fan dammit, and I love my Red Wings as fiercely as any of my teams.

Go Wings!

Here’s hoping you close out the Conference finals in five and sweep for the Stanley.  Here’s hoping you keep Hossa and land Ovechkin in the offseason.  Here’s hoping the throng of fair-weather fans grows beyond measure.

Being a fan means hoping that your team wins…and that includes all that goes with it.

I may be more comfortable riding the dark horse, but I intend to ride this thoroughbred to the end.