H2H Update

First of all, a million thanks to good friend of the family (and good friend of TPL), Ryan Michaels. He’s once again the hero: first, helping make that Nick Lidstrom signature thing happen for me, and now he’s hooked the H2H effort up with a great deal and a block of tickets. We’re lucky he’s on the team.

As you may have seen at A2Y, he’s also offered to get some lucky fans from the Hockeytown Cafe pre-game party into the penalty box during warm-ups of the H2H game. What a kickass raffle prize! You better be there, and you better get your raffle tickets (lots of them).

Here’s to you, Ryan Michaels, Hockeytown Hero.

Lots more information to come, on the H2H website, H2H Twitter, and H2H Facebook. Sit tight, it’s worth the wait.

Meeting Nick UPDATE

You’ll never believe what just happened.

My fiancee picks me up from the train station, tells me that I have to call my mom on Skype as soon as we get home. For some reason I ask “why – did she get a tattoo?” I’m not sure where that came from, but it seems downright logical compared to what actually happened.

When we finally get Skype working, Andrea hands me a UPS box. She’s not good at keeping secrets usually, but this one: I had no idea.

I open it up… it’s a 17×11 glossy copy of my Making Friends with Nick post from December SIGNED BY NICKLAS LIDSTROM.

I’ve got a bunch of stuff signed by Red Wings, but this…this is amazing.

Evidently my mom, with help from Ryan – a friend in the ticket department and TPL reader (Hi, Ryan!) – made the print and presented it to Nick in the locker room at the December 26th game I attended. Evidently, he signed sometime during the game or immediately after it.

I’ve been informed that he read the story, and that the creases in the print come from it being passed around the room because the other guys wanted to read it, too (and by read it, I assume she meant “laugh at Nick’s hair”). I’m a tiny bit embarrassed that actual Red Wings have read at least one of my posts (and if they’re continuing to check in, it’s probably best you stop right here, Todd).

I can’t even begin to tell you how floored I am. Anyone who reads TPL knows that my mom is an incredible hockey fan, and a million thanks to her. And to Ryan, without his help – I wouldn’t have such an amazing keepsake and story to tell.

Don’t know what else to say. I’m still shaking.

Herm to Hockeytown

Graphic stolen from A2Y

I’m a little late to the party, but this couldn’t go without mentioning, and is truly in the holiday spirit. Longtime A2Y contributor and Red Wings Brasil author, Guilherme, made mention that he has never been to a Red Wings game — or met another Red Wings fan.

Well, clearly, that won’t fly. Hats off to Chief, who organized the campaign to raise funds and get his ass to Motown for a game. It only took thirty hours to raise the initial $1,000. As of this writing, it’s been asked that donations be put on hold until everyone can figure out what it will cost to get Herm to the Joe for a game. It may re-open if it’s discovered that it’ll cost more than a grand — in which case, I encourage you to join me and send a few bucks their way.

What an unbelievably cool thing, and Red Wings fans should be proud of themselves for this gesture.

If you haven’t made your way over to Abel to Yzerman to check out the details yet, go now. Also, what the hell are you doing here NOT reading A2Y?

Happy Holidays, Herm! We all hope you enjoy the game, and look forward to hearing more about the journey! Take lots of pictures.

***UPDATE***

It’s been brought to my attention (thanks, Below the Crossbar, for the head’s up) that A2Y is again accepting donations. Any extra dough is being donated to Children’s Hospital. So, either way, a worthy cause. Get donatin’.

Making friends with Nick

Bowl Cut / Side Part Alert!

Back when they were terrible in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the Red Wings would host dinner events at the Joe. They’d put carpet on the ice, and arrange tables so that you were guaranteed to sit with a player. Once it was Kevin Miller (who gave me hell because I didn’t finish the meal, then asked if he could). Another it was John Chabot (memba him?).

My folks went a bunch of times, but I was lucky enough to go twice – when I was eight and nine. Some of the guys, like Steve Yzerman, were difficult to get near — everyone wanted to chat for a minute, get an autograph, or just hang out in their presence. Others, like the young guns or “role players” were a little more accessible – happy to talk to you, sign your jersey, or talk about the photo on their hockey card.

My second time around, in 1991, I noticed a younger looking guy sitting at a table, with no one but a young lady around him. He seemed really shy, kept to himself, stayed seated, didn’t really get into schmoozing so much. I asked my mom if she thought he was a player or if he was just another fan in attendance, like we were. We decided to go over and strike up a conversation.

He had a pretty thick accent, and he introduced us to his beautiful then-fiancee (now, wife). We talked for a good twenty minutes, the two of them couldn’t have been any nicer. Throughout our entire conversation, I don’t remember a single person coming to the table to meet him, but that could just be the memories of a nine-year-old. He said that he hadn’t played in Detroit yet (which explains why nobody was knocking chairs over to shake his hand), but he was excited to join the team and hoped he could stay in Motown for a long time. He told me his name was Nicklas, shook my hand, and signed my jersey right between the shoulder blades, just below where Ted Lindsay had signed. How symbolic.

Almost twenty years later, it’s hard to imagine I ever had that kind of time with such a special hockey player.

Those nights were awesome. I got to shake hands and chit-chat with so many of the guys. I remember Dennis Vial being impressed I knew his birthday (I share it, so it’s probably cheating), meeting Yves Racine’s son who was only a few years younger than me, taking a picture of my mom who was fake-punching Bob Probert on the chin, taking a photo with Vladdy Konstantinov (obviously, a cherished memory now more than ever), taking a photo with Steve Chiasson (obviously, a photo opportunity that won’t come up again), questioning why a will-remain-unnamed-goaltender needed glasses for dinner but not for games (he probably could have used them…).

But as fantastic as those moments were, they don’t even come close to sharing a private, lengthy conversation with Nicklas Lidstrom. I remember watching some 1991-92 games on television, hearing his name, and saying, “hey, that’s the guy we made friends with!” I always hoped he’d succeed, and for those first couple years, the “guy from that dinner” was how I thought of him.

It didn’t take long, however, for him to go from “that guy from that dinner” to the “future captain,” the “future Hall-of-Famer,” the “perennial Norris winner.”

He seemed genuinely happy that we came by and chatted with him, and when it became time to move on, he seemed a lot more comfortable talking with folks, less embarrassed by his accent, and started making the rounds. I doubt he remembers that chat, but it meant the world to me, a nine-year-old diehard Red Wings fan. Nearly twenty years later, it still means the world to me.