Three years ago I wrote a column some people took the wrong way.
It poked innocent fun at the Red Wings of Detroit and their fine
fans. The column was controversial. A pile of hate mail
accumulated, and I've been taking crap ever since.

Not a week goes by that a Red Wings fan doesn't send me that
column after marking it up with all kinds of derogatory remarks,
illustrations and threats. The marks are made in crayon, Magic
Marker or blood, on account of Red Wings fans are not allowed
sharp objects while under psychiatric care.

(Oops. There I go again.)

In the offending column, I pretended to scratch out the
insulting words I wanted to use about the Red Wings and inserted
nice ones instead. For instance, I wrote, Red Wings fans had a
great time taping the posters to the walls of their prison cells
dens. Of course, any fool could see what the crossed-out words
were anyway, even Red Wings fans.

(Sorry. Tough habit to kick.)

The column really upset Red Wings fans. Some of them wanted to
punch me. Some said I sucked. Like a lot of my columns, it
generated truckloads of opinions.

I even heard that somebody in my own office was upset with it.
If that person is still reading, I'd like to apologize. In fact,
I'd very much like to apologize to the Red Wings' organization,
their fans and those who live in Detroit.

I now see the error of my ways. I'm willing to face the music. I
have nightmares about that column. I will feel bad about it
until I draw my last breath. I hope we can let sleeping dogs
lie, and by that I mean many of the Red Wings' wives.

(O.K., I'll stop.)

I'm really not a bad guy. I love hockey. I'm dating myself by
saying this, but my pet project right now is monkeying around
with an old bubble hockey game in my basement.

It's just that for a while I thought (wrongly) that every
sportswriter deserved one exception to the Be Objective rule,
and the Red Wings were mine. I hated their little lawn gnome of
a coach, Scotty Bowman. I hated their Moscow-red uniforms. And
mostly I hated their spoiled-brat owner who simply writes a
check and steals whichever stars he fancies from whatever
organizations molded them.

I mean, look at some of the new guys on this year's team:
Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille. There have been
All-Star Games with fewer stars. What happened, Detroit? You
couldn't come to terms with Gretzky? Tell you what: After the
Red Wings win the Stanley Cup, they can all introduce themselves
to one another at the parade.

I know, I know. It's jealousy. Detroit has a great owner. He
might have a team full of guys who couldn't find downtown
Detroit with a GPS, but hey, that's the business of professional
hockey. His payroll is $65 million this year--more than every
other team's but the Rangers'. The Cup weighs 32 pounds. So if
he wins it, he paid about $2 million per pound. Hey, as every
freaking waitress says now, "Enjoy!"

And I mean that. I may come from Colorado, live in Colorado,
have every single relative on my side of the family living in
Colorado, but that doesn't mean I'm rooting for the Avalanche to
win the fiercest rivalry in sports. I don't root anymore. I stay
"objective." Besides, if Detroit doesn't win, do you realize how
many Red Wings fans will try to kill themselves by jumping out
the windows of basement apartments?

So, in closing, let's kiss and make up, Detroit. We're grown
men, right? I promise: In the future you'll no longer be the
butt of my jokes.

And please, no more sending me marked-up columns.


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