To: President Bill Clinton

The White House

Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

We, the citizens of Detroit, can’t tell you how thrilled we are that our Red Wings are facing a Washington, D.C., hockey team for the Stanley Cup. The prospect of you attending a Wings game is truly exciting.

I believe you know our team. They were guests at the White House. No sir, they didn’t stay in the Lincoln Bedroom. We don’t have that kind of money. We had to give it to Sergei Fedorov.

Actually, the Wings came for one of those smile-and-shake-hands things after they won the championship. Remember? Steve Yzerman gave you a sweater with your name on it?

No, sir, not a cashmere. That was the Scottish ambassador. A “sweater” in hockey is what you call a “jersey.” Ah. You remember the Wings now? Right, sir. The ones with all the bridgework in their teeth. You got it.

Anyhow, Mr. President, in case you do attend a game, I thought you’d like to identify our Detroit team player-by-player. The Wings move pretty fast on ice. How’s that, sir? Do they jump like those figure skaters in the short skirts?

Not exactly.

Maybe this will help. In the enclosed folder, I’ve broken down the Red Wings by political terms. And I’ve enclosed photos to help with the debriefing. Got your notepad, sir?

Here we go:

This man is Scotty Bowman, the coach. Some think of him as commander-in-chief. Others believe he is head of the space program. He could be a genius. No, sir. He’s no threat to you.

This man is Steve Yzerman. His rank is captain, but he’s more like a four-star general. Yes, sir. He does look a little like Johnny Depp. Your daughter has a crush on him? Very interesting, sir.

This man is Sergei Fedorov. After his latest contract, we refer to him as secretary of the treasury.

And this man, in front of a microphone, is Darren McCarty. He’s our speaker of the house. Yes, sir, he does look a little like a young Abe Lincoln. I believe it’s the goatee, sir.

And now the Russian delegation

This lanky, blond-haired fellow is defenseman Nick Lidstrom, and beside him is defenseman Larry Murphy. Refer to them as secretaries of the interior.

This guy with the bruised knuckles is Joey Kocur. He’s the whip.

This man with the curly hair and beard is Martin Lapointe, who heads up our Bilingual Education Department. Yes, sir, he is standing a little funny. That’s because someone recently tried to separate him from his private parts. No sir, not a White House intern. A goalie named Ed Belfour. Yes, sir. Hockey is a funny game.

This is Slava Fetisov. He’s the secretary of veterans affairs. Some believe he is Nikita Khrushchev.

This, sir, is Brendan Shanahan, head of the Arts Council. If you want a movie reference, you see him. Yes, sir, that is a very thick Vandyke beard he has. And he grew it this morning.

This next fellow is Igor Larionov, our United Nations representative. He can speak several languages, has played in several countries, and is well-respected by his peers. He also leads the team in chess victories.

Alongside him are Slava Kozlov and Dmitri Mironov, members of the Russian delegation.

This young man is the secretary of defense. His name is Chris Osgood. He plays goalie. Yes, sir, he is old enough to serve. What’s that? Why is he dressed like the Michelin Man? Padding. You wouldn’t want to be hit with a 100 m.p.h. puck, would you?

The puck, sir? It’s the small rubber thing they whack back and forth? Yes, that’s right. The thing with the red tail.

I see you’ve been watching Fox.

Oh, say can you see . . .

Moving on, sir, this stocky fellow seen arguing with the referees is Kirk Maltby. He’s from the Court of Appeals.

This fast-skating center is Kris Draper, from the Department of Energy.

Those two guys, Anders Eriksson and Tomas Holmstrom, are from the Swedish embassy.

These older, serious men, Jamie Macoun and Bob Rouse, are from the Defense Department. And this young fellow, Mathieu Dandenault, is in their apprentice program.

These men in suits, Barry Smith and Dave Lewis, are from Central Intelligence.

That man, Ken Holland, is the foreign trade secretary.

And the guy with the tape and Band-aids, John Wharton, is from Health and Human Services.

What’s that, sir? This player? Doug Brown?

Why, sir. I thought you’d know.

He’s the token American.

That about covers the roster. A few other things you should know when you come to the game. The men who keep the ice clear of flying objects are from the Environmental Protection Agency. The man on the Zamboni machine is from the Transportation Department. The people who shut off beer sales are from the National Drug Council.

And the woman who sings the national anthem is off-limits.

Just a friendly warning, sir.

So that’s your debriefing. We look forward to your presence at a game, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy watching the defending champs do what they do best.

Excuse me? That, sir? Oh. That’s an octopus. If you see one of those, just make sure you duck. Your Secret Service agents will wrestle it to the ground.

To leave a message for Mitch Albom, call 1-313-223-4581.

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