Saturday, August 15, 2009

Required Viewing for Wings Fans...

Thanks to the magic of YouTube, we’re able to relive Red Wings history 24/7, albeit sometimes in grainy, pixilated fashion. So here I’ve collected the ten YouTube videos that I think every Red Wings fan must see. It’s a cultural literacy thing. (Sorry, grad school has officially gotten to me now.) I don’t believe you can really know who you are unless you know where you came from. I realize that this is a pretty pretentious thing to say on a hockey blog, but I’ve never made any claims of subtlety before. Anyway, after watching this collection of videos, you should be fully briefed on how the Wings came to be where they are today.

These are skewed toward the recent era for two reasons: that’s what I’m most familiar with, and that’s what’s readily available on YouTube. There isn’t a whole lot of video out there from before the ‘90s, and even a lot of the stuff I’ve linked to isn’t of the greatest quality.

10. Steve Yzerman’s Goal in Game 7 OT Against St. Louis in ‘96
This goal is what sent the Wings on to play Colorado in that fateful Western Conference Finals series that launched the epic rivalry. Even without that context, this goal speaks for itself. Scoring on a snipe like that in overtime of Game 7? That’s the stuff legends are born of. Plus, Stevie’s celebration is iconic.
9. The Dangle Dangle Interview
While serving his one game quasi-suspension, Pavel Datsyuk stopped in for an interview with Mickey Redmond. The result was hilarious. Having seen this multiple times, we all knew that Pav was a funny guy but this interview is classic. I don’t even know which part I like best. There’re just so many to choose from. At any rate, I think everyone should know where the Dangle Dangle nickname originated. The parts about having a front row seat with drinks and not minding Brett Hull yelling because he didn’t speak English back then are just icing on the cake. And since it accounts for the other half of my blog’s name, here’s The Zetterberg Song.
8. Brendan Shanahan’s Empty Net Goal to Ice the ’02 Championship
This is quite possibly the most excited I’ve ever been about an empty net goal. In theory, it doesn’t sound very thrilling. “Oh, he scored? But there was no goalie? Isn’t that nice.” But this was the goal that put a seal on the dynasty and ensured that the ’02 team’s destiny was fulfilled. Plus, like in the first video, the post-goal celebration is classic. I really can’t remember what I was doing when this goal was scored, but you can be pretty sure that it involved screaming and jumping. And possibly crying. I’ll never know for sure.
7. Zetterberg’s Epic Penalty Kill
It’s been over a year, and I still sometimes can’t believe that the Penguins didn’t score on this powerplay. It was midway through the third period of Game 4 in ’08. The Wings were leading the game and the series 2-1. When that second penalty was called, I was sure that it meant disaster for my boys. And then amazingly, astonishingly, Henrik Zetterberg singlehandedly killed off the entire 5-on-3. OK, he actually had some help from the other players, but that moment when he tied up Crosby just outside the goal crease was…I don’t even know. I have a still shot of that play that pops up on my screensaver every now and then, and it makes me swoon every time. And if that PK magic isn’t enough for you, then make sure you check out Darren Helm’s ’09 version.
6. Steve Yzerman Tribute
Because he is The Captain. And you should know why. There are a plethora of Yzerman tribute videos out there, and I just happened to choose this one. So sit back and enjoy, because you can never watch too many Steve Yzerman highlights.
5. Legends of Hockey: Gordie Howe
Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman are the two most important players that this franchise has had. We all know plenty about Stevie Y, but how much do you know about Gordie? Probably not enough, so watch and learn. I also feel that it’s necessary to include this ESPN commercial, as well as Gordie’s theme song. I want to learn to play the guitar just so I can sing this around the campfire. Also for your historical viewing pleasure: Legends of Hockey about Ted Lindsay and Terry Sawchuck, and a tribute to Olympia (It’s best to watch this one on mute). Apparently there isn’t a single YouTube video about Alex Delvecchio or Sid Abel.
4. The Statue of Liberty Goal
This was the goal that launched a thousand punch lines. It was a perfect storm of timeliness, irony, history, and hilarity. In short, it was everything that a goal should be. And the fact that it made Patrick Roy look like a fool made it that much sweeter. The goal did indeed count. Seriously though. Remember that series? The Wings were down 3-2 in the Conference Finals playing on the road in Colorado. The game was scoreless near the end of the first period. Stress levels were at an all-time high. And then, out of nowhere, came this moment of glory. And we all know what transpired after...
3. Darren McCarty’s Cup-Clinching Goal in ‘97
If you were a Red Wings fan in the ‘90s, the highlight reel from this game should probably make you cry. After crushing defeats by New Jersey in ’95 and Colorado in ’96, the Wings finally ended the 42-year Cup drought right here in Hockeytown. And the game-winning goal in that decisive victory? Scored by none other than our favorite grind-liner, Darren McCarty, just a few weeks removed from reducing Claude Lemieux to a bloody, cowering turtle at center ice. Clearly, this was a good year for Mac. Even out of this context, this would probably be the most spectacular goal of his career. He looked like a 50-goal scorer on that rush. I remember my dad saying, “No, that wasn’t McCarty. He’s not that good.” To this day, I believe that the Hockey Gods instilled him with some kind of dangling magic a la “Angels in the Outfield” in that one particular moment.
2. March 26th, 1997
This epic battle defined one of the greatest rivalries in sports. Along with the follow-up in '98, Darren McCarty's revenge for Claude Lemieux's hit on Kris Draper during the previous year's playoffs should be required viewing for every Wings fan. These fights were the complete package: they weren’t staged, they were bookended by great hockey, and they involved goalies. As a hockey fan, you couldn’t ask for anything more. Whenever the Wings played the Avs during the late ‘90s and early ‘00s there was the ever-present possibility that the bad blood would escalate into a full-on brawl. Plus, there are few things more fun in hockey than a good old-fashioned goalie fight. And as a Red Wings fan, you should know why the date 3/26/97 will forever be a part of team lore. For comic relief, I’ve also included Dominik Hasek’s attempt to join the legion of Wings goalies to battle Patrick Roy.
1. The ’98 Cup Celebration
If the shot of Steve Yzerman putting the Stanley Cup in Vladdie’s lap doesn’t make you at least a little bit misty-eyed, then you either have no heart or aren’t a Red Wings fan. This, more than anything defines the team in my mind. After they won in ’97, it was hard to imagine anything sweeter than that triumph. But ’98 had an entirely different feel. It was like a made-for-TV movie, except it was real. That playoff run embodied everything that fans love about sports. And what more could you ask from a hockey team?

OK, I lied. There are actually more than ten videos there. But you get the idea. And since I bookmarked all of these, and I don't intend to let that effort go to waste, here are the runners-up:
The top 10 Wings goals of the Modern Era, Samuel L. Jackson as Cheli's coach, the Winter Classic (Best parts at 1:10 and 4:40), Datsyuk dangling Turco, Franzen taking Kane's mouthguard, MAF falling before '08 Finals, Steve Yzerman fighting (also watch for Bob Probert punching the goalie's mask right off his face at the 1:20 mark), and a version of the '97 fight set to music that came highly recommended by my brother.

These are all amusing and entertaining, but not quite significant enough to make it on the list. I know I've left dozens of other great moments off. The comments section is a great place to post links that you think I need to see. I promise I'll enjoy them as much as you do.

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