I lay sprawled on my bed, staring at the ceiling. It was over. The Wings had just been eliminated from the 2007 Playoffs by the Ducks. It was the first season I’d really been able to properly follow thanks to the internet and online radio. Living in the UK, being a fan of the NHL is something of a rarity. It’s all soccer, rugby and cricket – yet here I was, feeling like the world had ended and had no one to share my pain. It was well in to the early hours by the time the game ended and I was physically and mentally drained. More importantly, what had started out as a casual pass time had turned in to an obsession. I was hooked by hockey, the NHL and most importantly the boys from Hockeytown.
Going in to the next season I was confident. This would be the Wings’ year. Last year should have been, but come June 2008 Nick Lidstrom would be hoisting that Cup above his head and I’d be watching, listening in any way I could. A conversation in a bar with a friend that summer would lead me to one of the greatest adventures in my life. “If the Wings do win the Cup”, I said “and they play the Leafs first home game as Champions, I’ll be there”. Of course, that’s how it went. The Wings saw off the Penguins in six, and when the schedule for the 08-09 season came out I was stunned. October 9th, opening night, Toronto at home. The plane tickets were booked that day.
But here we are now, 2017, and things have changed drastically since then. The Wings aren’t the force they once were. Ask anyone who follows the Wings and they’ll give you plenty of varied reasons for this, but for me it’s simple. It’s one word. Evolution.