That's right, Thornton! Step aside and let the WORTHY PLAYERS wear this sacred number. Praise Jiri Tlusty! Can I get an amen, Jim Slater!? Glory, Blair Jones, Hallelujah!
Of course, no Wings-Sharks game is complete without humble recognition of the officiating.
(Getty Images®: Stephen Walkom re-enjoying some White Kessel Umbergers)
This still frustrates me to such a high degree, but I'm not sure why. I always expect this volatile mix of unbridled loyalty, passion, and ignorance from Wings fans to explode in my face on a game-to-game basis. I get it: things aren't going to change. Even with a team that has won 23 in a row at home, currently sits atop the NHL standings, has brought home four championships since 1997 and hasn't missed the postseason since 1990, Wings fans will still find every opposing goal, powerplay, shot on goal, shot off goal, offensive rush, successful line change, and safe team plane landing at Metro Airport to be the work of Jafar-esque officials, Gary Bettman's witchcraft, voodoo carnival magic, or just a statistical impossibility.
JUST GIVE IT A REST, PEOPLE.
I recognize and respect that the Wings are one of the most successful franchises in all of pro sports, and it is easy for someone to become a fan of a team that consistently plays at an elite level. This loyalty makes people do and say stupid things, though. From Flyers fans jumping a military veteran in a Rangers jersey, to the joyous riots in Montreal, and to the ridiculous riot in Vancouver, I can't begin to imagine what this sort of pride feels like. While Red Wings fandom hasn't become physically cantankerous just yet, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Ren Cen topple into the river if "our boys" ever lose at home again. Brace yourselves, kids.