Just Three “Game Sevens”………..

The Detroit Red Wings flew home from Anaheim, CA last Wednesday night and east into a midwestern Thursday. Into the dark agony of the first day of its summer vacation via red-eye flight on the team’s private jet named RedBird I, the team sat and wondered what had happened. Out in four games, Stanley Cup Champions and hands-down favorites to win it all again, the men arrived home still wondering how it could have happened and what to do next. None expected this outcome, and certainly they had not expected to return to Michigan bringing their spouses, girlfriends and children so much unplanned time. And so, the next day they gathered at Joe Louis Arena — the place where these guys work just a block or so away from where I work and where 20,000 plus hockey fans gather for each sublime home game. The place where last year’s Stanley Cup Championship banner hangs and the place where this year’s marketing puke of a theme (repleate with usual CD’s and raunchy marketing music) still hangs rank almost a week later. On the side of the building the 20-foot tall by 40-foot wide red banner with Stanley the Octopus above the slogan RED STORM RISING haunts the city and I even today as I view it from the back office windows when I look out at the Detroit River.

Inside last Friday though, it was one last team picture. “Okay guys, look here and try to look proud,” the photog must have had to repeat. Getting these men out of their crushing defeat hangover still pounding in their brains and prop them ready for a PR photo must have been the hardest task that photog ever endured.

Flash! Then, off the ice quickly, no need to skate more, nothing to skate for. The red and white Original Six uniform that has been an NHL standard as long as any other sports uniform — what 75 years or more? — would be removed one last time by warriors who had been ambushed by themselves and a white-hot goaltender armed with innocent confidence. He wasn’t experienced enough to know the playoffs are supposed to give netminders so much pressure they need to puke before hitting the crease to stop pucks. One last pull on the red sweater, and a few minutes to pack up the gloves, shoulder and shin pads and other gear into a red and white logoed team bag for travel and hopefully a return to the team next year to have at it again. Sticks would already be banded in bunches to be packed away in the spot at home where the golf clubs would be removed and put into action instead. Far too early a tee-time for these men from all over the world who desired once again to be playing hockey into mid-June for the coveted NHL Championship. You see, even young hockey players in Russia and Sweeden know there is no accomplishment like winning the right to take the world’s oldest professional sports trophey home with you as part of the rite of a Stanley Cup Champion. Indeed, compared to that, even golf will not be fun for the men this summer.

BUT WAIT! There is still NHL hockey to be played. Even if the Winged Wheel will be found only on golf carts from now to next season, there are THREE seventh and deciding games to be played tonight. And, as chance would have it, tonight is a school night for my wonderful wife who is attending university. Oh, the timing of it all! To be able to arrive home (missing my wife already, of course) and drop my shoes wherever I please to be picked up later at a time of my choosing. Let’s see I vacumed the rug last night while she was working late so what other chore can I accomplish this evening to do my part around the house? Oh, yeah, how about emtyping those pesky full bottles of Bush Beer from the extra fridge I was smart enough to buy from the guy across the street for $10 at a garage sale. Yeah, that sounds like a worthy clean-up project.

Let’s see……yup, plenty of popcorn, plenty of peanut butter, dinner will be a whiff!!! No problem there. Okay, telephone. Well, we have privacy manager so that won’t be a problem and we also have TALKING caller ID…….oh, the hell with it….I’m unplugging the damn thing anyway. Don’t need to hear my own voice announce a “privacy manager” call in a whisper when I can have silencio actualone (that’s Vinman Italian for actual silence).

Normally, on a quiet night like this, I would be led to get into a writing zone — you know updating the old VINMAN’s VERBOSITy and reading the latest news from around the world. Not tonight!! Nope, The Vinman is a hockey fan tonight. No verbosing for me this evening, just me, Don Cherry and the cats.

The cats??? Oh shit, the cats!!!!! Now there’s a problem I have to think about.

On nights when I, or my wife (or both), are seated at the glass square table in our sun-room off the living room tapping away at our laptop keyboards one of our feet is held hostage by the side of our cat Frikky’s head, or jaw, or teeth, or belly. He just can’t get enough of our Footpets!! Never enough! I swear that cat’s whiskers might start a friction fire one time from the spark of the rubbing action he demands. Foof!! Instant Kitty Kombustion. But in the meantime, he grabs your foot with his paw and you don’t even have to be looking or paying attention to him. Next thing you know, you’ve got a 14 lb. dark gray and white furry blob holding your foot hostage (not that you’d be doing anything else with it).

Okay, so what’s the plan there Vin-Man. I’ve got to think. Hmmmmmmmmm……could let them outside and not let them in. No that won’t work. They are smart enough to jump onto the railing outside the window and peer in at me until I get tired of their furry glares………Maybe I could just lock them in the garage? No, Frikky will just be pissed off and tell Sheila when she gets home. Then, I’ll have to deal with THAT (men never win when sports is used as an excuse to abuse their wife’s cat). Damn, I think I’m screwed. No wait…I can bribe them with tuna and chicken! Yeah, that’s the ticket…a little of this, a little of that, and then some cat nip to top it all off and they’ll be as happy, sleepy and stoned as I used to be with a double-cheese pizza and some human nip of my own. Okay, Vinman, THAT’s the plan.

So, my dear friends, don’t try to call me. Don’t expect me to return your emails and DON’T ask me to come over and help with your latest lawncare project. But feel free to drop by if you want to partake!!!!! I’ll be tucked away in my little house by the lake watching not one, not two, but THREE game seven do or die NHL games tonight. Where else can you see grown men sit on each others’ laps and lay on each other (see photos below) and get away with it???

Go Toronto Maple Leafs!! Go Minnesota Wild!! Go Vancouver Canucks!!

And be well, yourself, whatever you are doing.

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