If it was 1998, and not 2008, they would have lined the streets. Work productivity would have dropped lower than a gameday during March Madness. Instead, marketing budgets with Olympia were tapped into as Red Wings fans were alerted about the beginning of the annual rite of playoff hockey in Hockeytown. That is, this past week ushered in the start of seat purchasing for what used to be the road to the Cup.
Earlier this year we were told that fans would come back in numbers to the Joe. For those that showed up to watch the Wings, it was a magical start to the season. Chris Osgood was looking like vintage Sawchuk between the pipes, and it was hard to say that anyone was really missing The Captain on the ice. While the team eventually sailed back down to ground level, they have done enough to place one hand on The President’s Trophy. With the tremendous effort put forth out on the ice, fans have neglected to return the favor in huge numbers.
For anybody that lives in the Metropolitan Detroit area, this news comes as no surprise. The blame of any lack of attendance can come anywhere from Michigan’s economy and the NHL strike, to the fear of being prosecuted by Kym Worthy. In just a few days the latest distraction of Ilitch’s other baby will be taking the field as the attention will be sidetracked from GAAs and PIMs to OBPs and RBIs.
It has become clear though that the real issue is our city’s malaise with watching a winning team. Sure the team has not done as well as they had hoped in the playoffs, but the fact that they have won regular season games with relative ease over the past decade-plus has placed fans facing toward the alternative of the latest and greatest thing to come down the road. The Pistons and Tigers have provided excitement for relatively short periods of time and it will only be a matter of time before they are back at the Joe to watch players like Zetterberg and Datsyuk help raise some banners.