In many ways, they’re a lot alike.

The Red Wings have won Stanley Cups. The Avalanche has won Stanley Cups.

The Red Wings have a goalie who speekeeng with dee accent. The Avs have a goalie who speak wit’ an’ accent.

The Wings have a captain who is quiet, rugged and wears No. 19. The Avs have a captain who is quiet, rugged and wears No. 19.

And while the Wings have a foreign phenomenon, Igor Larionov, who is 41 yet skates like a kid, the Avs also have a foreign phenomenon, Peter Forsberg, who took the regular season off yet is leading the playoffs in points.

So, really, when it comes down to it, inquiring minds want to know: What is the difference between Colorado and Detroit?

Simple. They’re a bunch of dirty, rotten, arrogant little mountain goats, and we’re not.

Which brings me to today’s column. It has come to my attention that a handful of Colorado fans have infiltrated our borders in Detroit, in a soon-to-prove fruitless attempt to get into today’s opener of the Western Conference finals.

Beware. These people look like normal folk. They hide their Joe Sakic jerseys. They hide their “Go Avs!” hats. They are sneaky little weasels who cannot be rooted out with cheese, Raid or other standard pest-control techniques.

We must, therefore, resort to interrogation. Line everyone up and make them answer the following questions. NOW!

1. Claude Lemieux is . . .a) A former Avalanche star.b) Now playing with Phoenix.c) AHHH! OOH! @&%$%#!

The correct answer is C. No Detroit fan can hear that name and not go ballistic. Take all others outside and whack them with a foam rubber wing.

2. Tanguay is . . .a) Alex Tanguay, an Avs winger.b) Another example of Colorado scouting.c) Something you mix with tonic.

The correct answer is C. We Detroiters know our drinks. And anyone who answered incorrectly should be doused with Vernors.

3. The coach of the Red Wings is Scotty Bowman. The coach of the Avalanche is
. . .a) Bob Hartley.b) Bob Newhart.c) Bob Newhartly.d) Who cares?

The correct answer is B. Or D. Or, well, who cares?

4. The difference between Detroit’s grind line and Colorado’s grind line is .
. .a) Detroit’s is younger.b) Colorado’s is younger.c) Colorado’s plays filthy-dirty-slimy, while Detroit’s guys scrub up after the game and sing in the church choir.

The correct answer, of course, is C. I believe they are doing “Ave Maria” this Sunday.

5. Brendan Shanahan became an American citizen this week because . . .a) He’s tired of answering the same way at the tunnel.b) He wants to stand in the
“U.S. Citizens Line” at Metro Airport.c) He wants to be elected president one day so that he can throw Colorado out of the union.

The correct answer is “all of the above.” And if the respondent asks “Who’s Brendan Shanahan?” take his fingerprints.

6. What was Peter Forsberg really doing all season, before he rejoined his teammates?a) Watching the “Friends” DVD.b) Went to Sweden for plastic surgery to look more like Nicklas Lidstrom.c) Can you blame him? Who could stand to be around those guys that long?

While C may appear to be the correct answer, the more correct answer is actually B. Didn’t work, either.

7. What new weapons do the Wings have this year that will ensure a victory over Colorado?a) Brett Hull.b) Luc Robitaille.c) Dominik Hasek.d) Avs hotel rooms are bugged.

The correct answer is actually A, B and C, but if the respondent looked at the lamp shade when you read D, have him cuffed.

8. If Steve Yzerman fought Spider-Man, who would win?a) Yzerman by KO.b) Yzerman by TKO.c) Spider-Man and what army?

The correct answer is “Hahahahaha! Uh, who’s Spider-Man?”

9. What does Patrick Roy’s last name rhyme with?a) Oy.b) Vey.c) Wah.d) Who’s Patrick Roy?

The correct answer is D, unless the person said B, in which case, have pity. He’s too dumb to be from Detroit OR Colorado.

OK. By this point, we should have rooted out the frauds, and we can get down to the business at hand, starting this long-awaited Western Conference showdown. It begins here, and let’s hope it ends here, with a celebration for the good guys.

Of course, there is one easier way to spot an Avalanche fan today at Joe Louis Arena.

Just look for someone who actually expects to buy a ticket.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or albom@freepress.com. Catch “Albom in the Afternoon” 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760). Also catch “Monday Sports Albom” 7-8 p.m. Mondays on WJR.

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