by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

What’s gonna happen,” you ask, pacing the room in your Red Wings sweater.
“Will Yzerman play? Will Fuhr be beatable? Wings or Oilers? What’s gonna happen? I gotta know.”

“Well, OK,” I say, rubbing the crystal puck, “if you’ve gotta know . . .

GAME 1: The puck is dropped and — WHAM! — Detroit scores three goals in the first three minutes. “Boy, Calgary got a lot better, eh?” Mark Messier says to teammate Wayne Gretzky. “We’re not playing Calgary anymore,” Gretzky answers. By the time the Oilers recover, the game is out of reach, and the Wings win, 6-2. Meanwhile, Steve Yzerman is seen on the bench, slipping on a red jersey.

GAME 2: Detroit coach Jacques Demers, so pleased with the Game 1 effort, decides to take his team to the world’s largest shopping mall, which is the only thing to do in Edmonton, anyway. On the ride back, several players are missing. Without them, the Wings struggle in a close affair, losing, 4-3, on a last-minute power play. “What happened?” someone asks Demers. “I’m not sure,” he says, “but will someone call K-Mart and have Harold Snepsts paged, please?” Meanwhile, Yzerman is seen on the bench, in full pads.

GAME 3: The series shifts back to Detroit, where the Ostrum sisters sing the national anthem for the 127th time. “You know,” whispers Gretzky, “they don’t look any older than last year.” The game is nip and tuck, with both goalies, Greg Stefen and Grant Fuhr, making incredible saves. The Wings finally win, 1-0, when Edmonton’s Craig Simpson, a Michigan State alumnus, accidentally kicks the puck into his own net. “I’m soooo sorry,” he tells his teammates. Suspicion arises when an MSU banner is found in his locker. He later shows up at a Lansing bar, singing the Spartans’ fight song. The Oilers suspend him for the series. Meanwhile, Yzerman is seen on the bench, lacing up his skates.

GAME 4: Marty McSorley returns for the Oilers after a three- game suspension for spearing a player in the Calgary series. “I’m ready to kill,” he announces, but the Detroit fans shower him with octopi, one of which lands on his face. McSorley quickly spears the creature and breaks his own nose. The game begins. Fuhr, who never gets a night off for Edmonton, falls asleep leaning against the net, but still stops 25 of 27 shots. Gretzky’s third goal of the night wins it for the Oilers, 3-2. “I thought Grant played a super game tonight,” Gretzky says. “Grant? Hey . . . Grant?” Meanwhile, Yzerman is seen on the bench, wearing a helmet.

GAME 5: Gilbert Delorme, who has sworn not to shave his beard until the playoffs are done, is stopped by the Edmonton security guards, who do not believe he is a hockey player. He insists. They refuse. Finally, he is allowed to pass when he says he is a member of the rock group ZZ Top, here to sing the national anthem. Demers starts Glen Hanlon in goal, but Hanlon takes a puck to the groin and leaves. Out comes a rookie goaltender named Sam St. Laurent, who lasts just 10 minutes before twisting a knee. “Deja vu,” whispers Demers.
“SPEAK ENGLISH!” yells his team. Stefan must return, and he fails to stop the winning shot by Edmonton’s Jari Kurri, who is given star-of-the-game honors for sounding most like something you’d eat at an Indian restaurant. Meanwhile, Yzerman is seen on the bench, wearing his gloves.

GAME 6: Back in Detroit, controversy erupts. Fuhr, who has now played 800 games in a row for Edmonton, goes out on strike. “Pay me by the save,” he demands. While the Oilers’ front office tries to figure how much that will cost, the game begins. Detroit takes full advantage of Fuhr’s absence. Petr Klima, who has been shadowed all series by Esa Tikkanen, breaks away from him four times for goals. The Wings win, 6-4. Says Klima: “That guy gives me the Guillermos.” A reporter looks up: “You mean the willies, Petr.” Klima: “No, it’s Guillermo now. And you must call me Fred.” Meanwhile, Yzerman is seen on the bench, sifting through sticks.

GAME 7: Planeloads of Red Wings fans make the trip to Edmonton. The mayor of Detroit bets the mayor of Edmonton a case of Sanders fudge against a trip to the world’s largest shopping mall, where, hopefully, someone will find Snepsts. The crowd is at fever pitch as the game begins. Suddenly, Yzerman leaps over the boards and skates onto the ice. Demers, doing his best Al Michaels impression, yells: “DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?” Unfortunately, with his accent, it comes out: “DO YOU BELIEVE IN TENTACLES!” and 500 excited fans throw octopi, one of which hits Yzerman in the head and knocks him out. Gerard Gallant, Shawn Burr and Adam Oates score. It’s 3-3 with a minute to play. Suddenly Yzerman returns, skates out on a breakaway, winds up, shoots —- .

“And? AND?”

“Sorry. I have to wait for doctor’s approval before giving you this ending.” CUTLINE Wayne Gretzky


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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