There’s no question that the Detroit Red Wings have been one of the best franchises in all professional sports over the last 2 decades. As the wins increased from year to year, so did their fans’ presence all over North America. For anyone that has been to a game when the Red Wings come to town, they have witnessed first-hand how many Wings fans will show up for an average regular season game. For an organization that has been the gold standard for a generation, their fans may be the single best part of their organization.
Since they’re all over the place, it’s best that people all over the continent know how to safely interact with these visitors. No matter what, the first step is to approach with caution. They’re a vulnerable creature that has a high-reaction rate to the words “economy,” “Hossa,” and “Avalanche.” And for the love of God, don’t even dare mention Bettman and Crosby in the same sentence!
Remember—it’s best to take preventative measures beforehand. Hopefully, if you take the necessary steps, you’ll be able to escape with minimal psychological damage. Having a native Michigander for an editor and going to a ton of Red Wings road games has given me a unique insight into one of the most loyal fan bases in all of sports. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned over the years that I’d like to share:
- Talk to ushers when you’re taking your seat for the first time. They can let you know if there have been any Red Wings fan sightings. They’ll also be able to let you know if they usually inhabit the section that you’ll be sitting in for the evening.
- It’s best to go with someone that knows the terrain so you can be prepared at all times. People that have previously been to Red Wings games generally know most of these techniques and can help you if you get into a bind.
- These visiting fans come from a place called Hockeytown. They even have a Hockeytown Café to prove it. Make sure you pay them the reverence that they deserve.
- Do not fall behind 3-0 in the 1st period. This only serves to give them added confidence and makes for an EXTREMELY long intermission. And it sucks.
- Think of them as a bull and you’re in Pamplona. If you wear red, they’ll think that you’re friends and they’ll be attracted to you.
- “Is crack really whack?” is not an acceptable conversation starter with a visiting opponent—not matter where they are from.
- Reduce odors. Never, EVER have Little Caesars Pizza. If it’s absolutely unavoidable, wrap the pizza in an airtight container. They can smell their own.
- Learn the behaviors of an aggressive Wing Nut. They’ll be looking around to make eye contact with opposing fans, walk with their chest puffed out and often times are carrying a Bud Light. Try to get them to leave by ignoring their existence.
- One tactic to use when approaching a Red Wings fan: stick your hand up as if to say “HI.” Hold it up, then point to a part of your hand and say, “I’m from here—Grosse Pointe.” Michiganders think that their state looks like a hand and this form of communication is like a secret handshake.
- If you get the sense that things are starting to go sideways, start singing “Night Moves” by Bob Segar. In fact, sing ANYTHING from Bob Segar or Kid Rock and you should be fine.
- Whether you’re talking about a tunnel or a country in Europe, never EVER say anything bad about Holland.
- If you see a pack doing Jagerbombs in the parking lot, that’s a fool-proof method for identifying potentially harmful fans. (Sidenote: a true Red Wings fan will be tailgating out of an American car. If they’re rolling in a Nissan Xterra, then this Michigander fan has bigger issues than simply rooting for a specific hockey team).
- When a visiting fan tells you what a Gordie Howe hat trick is like you’re a moron, just smile and nod. It’s easier to agree than to provoke the visitor.
- Say that you’re from Ipsy (that’s native speak for Ypsilanti). You’ll instantly be accepted into any pack.
- Don’t waste your breath mentioning the Lions. The average Red Wings fan has disowned the Lions and won’t start acknowledging their existence again until they start winning. Kind of like they did with the Red Wings in the mid-90’s
- Never try to touch a Red Wings fan. They could maim you.
- If you see Red Wings fans with children, avoid them at all cost. They will assume that you are trying to hurt their babies and may attack without warning.
- If you see a Red Wings fan who is wearing his/her hat to the side, do NOT call them Eminem. It might be funny to you, but it won’t be funny to them.
- Be extra cautious at the conclusion of the game. This is the time that has increasingly become a serious concern for NHL fans. Over the last two decades, the Red Wings consistently won wherever they went. A victorious Wings fan is a happy Wings fan. Predictably, this is not their aggressive state. But as age, injuries and the salary cap have taken a toll on their franchise, the fan base has become increasingly problematic after the game.
- Very last one: Remember, while some Red Wings fans can be beautiful people, when they are at a hockey game they have a tendency to be wild in their natural habitat. Many experts recommend avoiding these visiting Red Wings fans until you are a trained expert.