x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Detroit may be down, but the Wings are flying

My team Motown may be down on its luck, but the Detroit Redwings are at least flying high.

Detroit's Brian Rafalski, right, in action against the Penguins.
Detroit's Brian Rafalski, right, in action against the Penguins.

This morning, I will either be ecstatic or inconsolable. But regardless of whether or not my team, the Detroit Red Wings, have beat the Pittsburgh Penguins and lifted the Stanley Cup in the early hours of this morning, they are a club to be proud of. With high unemployment and a former mayor in jail, Detroit is down on its luck. The city's NFL team, the Lions, summed it up last season, becoming the first side to lose all of their games (in a 16-game season).

Because of this, the Wings have proved a wonderfully positive distraction for the whole city. Last year's championship was their fourth in 11 years and 11th overall. They have been a model of consistency in the NHL. Great players have come and gone, but pre-match traditions have not. In 1952, brothers Pete and Jerry Cusimano, Wings fans and fishmongers, threw an octopus on to the ice before the start of the Stanley Cup play-off series - the eight legs symbolising the number of play-off wins needed to lift the cup in those days.

The Wings won the trophy that year and octupi are tossed for good luck at the Joe Louis Arena to this day. Before one game in 1995, a 30-pounder was thrown on to the ice, one of 36 chucked in total by the fans. Logically, in 1995, the club unveiled a new mascot, Al, a giant purple octopus. He wears the No 8 shirt. The club were founded in 1932 after a team called the Falcons folded due to the Great Depression. But no matter how much of an economic battering the city takes this time around, the Red Wings are not going anywhere.

sports@thenational.ae