Hallelujah, hockey fans! I have the answer to your prayers.
First, you people in the high seats at Joe Louis Arena, who have been crying in your beer since the departure of Immortal Beloved, the toothless driving risk, Bob Probert.
“PROBIE, PROBIE, WHEREFORE ART THOU, PROBIE?” you lament.
No more. I have a new word for you.
That’s right. Stu. As in Stu Grimson, the rugged new enforcer for the Wings, who is 6 feet 5, built like Dolph Lundgren, and as ready for confrontation as any O.J. Simpson lawyer.
How can you not like a guy whose nickname is “The Grim Reaper”?
Thursday night, in his first Wings home game, Grimson wasn’t on the ice one minute before punching San Jose’s Jayson More. How’s that for service, dudes? You’re not even back from the pizza stand and the man is already throwing a punch! All right! Motown is Black and Blue Town Again! Party on! Go on upstairs and have a beer! I’ll be with you in a minute! . . .
(OK. Now that they’re gone. All you people who think goonish hockey is unseemly and unworthy, here’s the surprise. This guy Grimson is — how can I put this? — a gentleman. Really. He is religious, speaks politely, and is studying for his degree in economics. He has a wife and two young daughters —
“the pride of my life” — he loves “Seinfeld,” and has been spotted, according to one reliable Red Wing witness, “reading a book, and stuff.”
That Red Wing would be Shawn Burr, who also noted Grimson’s keen sense of humor.
“He told me this morning, ‘Shawn, you’re built like prime rib.’ Then he said, ‘Actually, you’re more like the stuff they cut off the prime rib.’ “
He punches, he punchlines.
Can I get a STUUUUUUUU?) Not afraid of punches — or words
Oh, hey, Dudes. You’re back. Still partying?
Well, why not? Less than 10 minutes after that first swing Thursday night, Grimson grabbed another Shark and did the muscle dance again. This time it was captain Jeff Odgers. Oh, yeah. They whaled on each other! Some wicked head shots, ace! And in the end, with his jersey pulled over his head, The Grim Reaper still took Odgers to the ice!
Hey. Why don’t we dudes go upstairs and watch some more of “Hockey’s Greatest Brawls”? Go ahead, man! I’ll be up in a minute! . . .
(OK. Now that they’re gone, you more erudite fans will be happy to know that Grimson does not fight in bars, refuses to drink, and does not see his job as reflective of his personality.
“The label ‘Goon,’ ” he says, “is not a pleasant word. I know people expect
enforcers in the NHL to be pugnacious and belligerent, but the truth is, we are all different people.”
Pugnacious and belligerent?
“It’s true, I’m not afraid of a punch. But I have respect for a punch as well.”
Pugnacious and belligerent?
“I’ve also found, through the years, the ability to overcome fear is one of the most exhilarating feelings you’ll have in your lifetime.”
Whoa. Is this hockey, or Zig Ziglar?
A fighter who works with teens? An enforcer who spends several weeks each year with the Christian Hockey Ministries? A punching machine who not only likes Bruce Springsteen but admits that one of his favorite albums is the brooding, acoustic “Nebraska”?
Somebody wake me up.
STUUUUUUUUUU!) And, he won’t wind up in jail
Dudes! You’re back! Done with the tapes? Oh, you’re making new ones, from Thursday night. Well, sure. After seven penalty minutes in the first period, Grimson came roaring back again. Less than 30 seconds into the second frame, he was roughing it up with defenseman Shawn Cronin. I’m telling you. Grimson should come with his own “Batman” soundtrack. Biff! Bam! Zowie!
And then, once he got out of the penalty box for that one, he found a Shark he hadn’t attacked yet — this was getting harder to do — and, you guessed it, he went after him. Defenseman Jim Kyte. Bam! Biff! Pow! I counted nine straight punches, dudes! And when the nasty ref send Big Stu to the box, he got a standing ovation!
Unbelievable, man! Is this great or what? Let’s go home and kick in a wall!
I’m right behind you, boys. . . .
(OK, Now that they’re gone, a few final thoughts for you peaceable folks. Yes, it’s true, Grimson has only scored four goals in his six year NHL career
— he was with Calgary, Chicago and Anaheim before Detroit. But it is also true that Grimson says things like, ‘How come you drive on the parkway and park in the driveway?’ “
It is true, that Grimson long ago gave up on an unblemished complexion — after Thursday’s game, his left eye looked like month-old hamburger. Then again, Keith Primeau hasn’t had to fight since Grimson got here. And, besides, how can you knock a fighter who says, “I’m not much for dirty jokes”?
The way I see it, we got a guy here who can throw a punch and keep the bloodhounds happy, without winding up in jail, in a ditch, or in the headlines. I’d call that a pretty fair acquisition.)
So altogether now, men and women, greasers and nerds, activists and pacifists, can I get one for practice?
“I like when fans yell that. Stuuu. That way, if they ever start booing me, I’ll never know the difference.”
It’s a weird sport, hockey, isn’t it?