Today is Herm to Hockeytown day. And yes, I am insanely jealous. And I hope you all have a great time. But today is also an even more important day. It is Fight Night day!
Captain Norris over at the Winged Wheel posted this gem today giving a brief history of the events before and under the game. Because of this I will not go as far in recapping the Blood Game/Blood Brawl/Fight Night at the Joe as I originally intended.
Instead I will do a few things, and the first is to talk about the game and what it meant, both to me and to the wings. I remember sitting at home in our living room back in 1997. I had been a Wings fan for a couple of years and vividly remembered the hit on Draper a year earlier. It had been etched into my memory and like every other Wings fan, I hated the Turtle with a passion. And still do. I was close to my 9th birthday and had begged my parents to let me stay up for the game. I don't know how much of the commentary I understood back then, especially since I have seen it so many times since it surfaced on the internet some years ago, but the game itself is etched into my memory. I remember how my mom went to bed before the game started (she was the kind of woman who didn't care much for sports, but who still watched practices, drove me to practices and took a keen interest in hockey as long a I participated in the events) and how my dad stayed up with me. I remember the feeling of revenge, of pride in a team that stood up for itself and where teammates stood up for each other. I remember how DMac scored the goal over all goals and how I he almost surpassed Stevie (impossible) a my favourite player. And he still is my second favourite. I cannot remember how tired I was the next day, but I know it was worth it. And the feeling I went to bed with was pure fucking awesome.
The game also, as CaptNorris pointed out, meant the world to the Wings. They not only bonded closer together as a team through the game, they also showed the Avalanche and the world that they could beat them. Both at the game and at the violent stuff. They got revenge for a hit that had plagued them for almost a year and got redemption for the conference final loss the year before. Actually, the victory thing can, for people who weren't fans yet, be likened to the feeling we got from beating the Pens recently, just multiply it by ten and a half. This game also cemented DMac as both an enforcer, the ultimate team guy and a player who could do more than just fight. It also gave Shanny and Malts a chance to stick up for their new teammates. All in all, this game was key to their cup run that year, and maybe to their whole dynasty era.
I also want to talk about the man. I have done it before and I will do it again, and today is a perfect day for this. Darren McCarty. The enforcer. The grinder. The goal scorer (at key moments). The fan favourite. The teammate over all teammates. This is just one of countless examples (actually he did it in more or less every game, but this one stands out) of him standing up for his teammates, playing with the logo tattooed to his chest and sacrificing his body for his team. You can have as many Fedorovs and superstars as you want, but if you don't have the team spirit, the great teammates and the grinders who go out ready to die for their hockey club on every shift, you will still lose. Darren McCarty was the ultimate version of that guy. And thus he holds a very, very, very special place in my heart. I will easily admit that I have had tears in my eyes every time I have seen a Wing lift the cup, but do you know when I started really tearing up in 08? Yes, you guessed it, when DMac lifted the cup and fulfilled his redemption stint in Detroit, showing that he had overcome his personal demons and made a comeback as an elite player. Still, every time I see that toothless grin I have to smile. DMac was one of a kind, and a player we will never see the likes of again. And while my brain says that you cannot go around throwing around jersey retirements, my heart says that he belongs in the rafters, because he embodied the spirit of the team that won those cups, he was the heart. At least make a banner, or a statue or something for the grind line together. They deserve it. Darren deserves it.
Last of all, I have got some pieces of video for those of you, who cannot do as I plan to do, ritualisticly watch the game in its entirety. First of all, let's take a look at Satan, the Turtle, Clod, claude lemieux and remember why we hate that guy with a fucking passion. Look at the two first plays here, horrible (the last one is the rematch after the FightNight):
Now, let's look at an extensive recap of the fights. I will point out a few highlights - Video 1:
1:51 - Look at young Murph have a romantic dance with Keith Jones!
3:32 - Could there be two more unlikely people starting it all? Foppa and Igor!
3:44 - DMac starts the revenge
3:48 - Shanny's amazing fly-tackle of Patrick Roy. Just fricking awesome.
4:06 - GOALIE FIGHT!
4:59 - DMac still fired up, screaming in the box
5:24 - DMac now screams at the Avs
0:10 Vlad vs. Deadbeat. Always good to see Vlad even if he got dropped.
0:45 Shanny vs. Adam Foote.
2:36 Homer gets a few in on Keane even though he is on his back
5:58 DMac vs. Deadbeat. DMac wins
I also want to show a video Dena sent my way for this post about my favourite moment in that game. It includes a few more things I love:
2:29 The ice after the REVENGE
3:03 What a play by Kozzy and Marty!
3:49 Another awesome play. The game winner
4:13 My all time favourite hockey moment. You can read more about it in the last link above this. The hug. Draper and Mac. Just beautiful. Shows that it all comes down to friendship.
Happy FightNight day people and have a great time at H2H!
10 months ago