by | May 29, 1996 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

So here I am, convinced that the whole city is severely afflicted with Red Wings Fever, and I go to the dentist and they put me in the chair and the hygienist sits down and says, “Hey, who won that hockey game?”

Who won that hockey game?

And the dentist says, “I don’t know. I’m not much into sports. I like classical music.”

Classical music?

Well. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe there are people in Detroit who still don’t know the biggest story in town. And that’s fine. After all, there are people who still think Jack Paar does the “Tonight Show.” Some of them are dentists.

Anyhow, I suspect that these sad and lonely non-fans will be jumping on the bandwagon soon, meaning tonight, when the Wings take on Colorado in the most highly anticipated and talked-about hockey game since, well, since two weeks ago.

And where do these people turn?

I mean, it’s darn confusing, if you are someone like my dentist, or his hygienist, or anyone else out there who OBVIOUSLY HASN’T READ A NEWSPAPER OR TURNED ON A RADIO IN THE LAST MONTH! — (Note to dentist: I’m only kidding here, please don’t stick me with any more needles).

I am here to help.

I am here to introduce you dummies — er, newcomers — to the characters in tonight’s icy drama. Hockey is a simple game, and the Detroit and Colorado rosters are easy to break down, once you know the most important thing: Who is a bad guy and who is a good guy.

The following profiles are based on the most up-to-date non-partisan research, except in cases when I made them up. WINGS-AVALANCHE GOOD GUY/BAD GUY LIST
* CLAUDE LEMIEUX: Bad guy. Born in the depths of hell. His father, Darth Vader, left him to be raised by demon wolves, who taught him to smell blood and swing his claws until he found some. A vampire, he is cursed to wander darkness for eternity. Also, he has an annoying French accent.
* STEVE YZERMAN: Good guy. Frequently referred to as the Johnny Depp of hockey, plays hard, works hard, is loyal to his wife and daughter, sends his paycheck home to mother, hosts charity telethons and teaches the homeless how to skate on his way to the rink.
* JOHN DENVER: Bad guy. Roots for Colorado. Also, his singing makes sheep cry.
* DON JOHNSON: Bad guy. Roots for Colorado.
* MIKE RICCI: Bad guy. Plays for Colorado. Has face that looks as if he’s permanently pressed against a window pane. Also, he scores too damn much.
* CHRIS OSGOOD: Good guy. Goalie for the Wings. Sometimes confused with actor Macaulay Culkin, which is odd, because Macaulay is much older than Osgood. Chris not only handles the net, he also reads to the blind and sells Boy Scout cookies.
* PATRICK ROY: Bad guy. Recently released from prison, he insists on wearing a mask to keep his identity secret. Has been known to steal things during the game, especially any puck shot by Keith Primeau. Also has annoying French accent. “I zink wuh will win tonaat,” he says. Zink again.
* STU GRIMSON: Good guy. Snappy dresser.
* BARRY SMITH: Good guy. Snappy dresser. Assistant coach, when Stu lets him.
* ADAM FOOTE: Bad guy. Colorado defenseman. Wanted in several states for fraud, Foote has mastered the art of bleeding on cue, while making it look as if the opposing player actually touched him, when we all know he didn’t hit him that hard, for Pete’s sake, why don’tcha just play the game?

Excuse me. Lost my place for a minute.
* SERGEI FEDOROV, IGOR LARIONOV, SLAVA KOZLOV: Good guys. Swam to America from Russia, while still finding time to prevent an oil tanker from spilling. After every game, they kiss the American flag and thank the NHL for giving them such a good life they don’t even want the money, just give it to needy kids.
* CRAIG STADLER: Bad guy. Roots for Colorado.
* MARC CRAWFORD: Bad guy. Coach of Avalanche. Looks like cast member on
“Friends.” Needs to have smirk taken off his face. In a bad way. You know what I mean? This guy is too darn smug and they ought to whack hi–

* SCOTTY BOWMAN: Good guy. Cross between calculus teacher and professional wrestler. Not to be trifled with in parking lots. Also, do not put him and Keith Gave in the same room.
* ADAM DEADMARSH: Bad guy. Once a Cajun bounty hunter, got his last name for the bodies they found washed up against his shrimp boat.
* ANDY VAN HELLEMOND: Bad guy. Referee. Known to blow his whistle if you happen to be wearing the wrong color uniform, which, by some funny coincidence, is red.
* VLADIMIR KONSTANTINOV: Good guy. Frequently misunderstood. Although he sneers, leers, punches and tends to crash into his opponents, flipping them over, leaving them in a crumpled heap, close friends say he’s a sweet man, who just happens to open bottles with his teeth.
* OCTOPUS: Not human. Still a good guy.

So there you have it. A primer for late-arriving fans. You should now have no problem knowing whom to root for — at least if you live in Detroit.

And if for some reason, you still choose to ignore the game, and want to do something else tonight, that’s OK; I know someone who will drill your teeth.


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