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Jeff Riger: Boo Birds Are A Head Scratcher

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There seems to be a new fad at Joe Louis Arena… booing. And I just don’t get it! It first happened a couple weeks ago when the Wings had just lost their 3rd in 4 games, as they left the ice against the Nashville Predators and it was the talk of our station. “Can fans really boo the Wings?” our hosts including myself asked the public and the answer is yes. I have always been a firm believer that if a team does not give you what seems to be 100% effort then by all means boo them. You can’t confront them on the ice or field, you don’t have players cell phone numbers to call them and tell them about your displeasure, so yes let the “boo birds” loose and let your feelings be known.

But what happened Thursday night at the Joe was more than booing, it was booing for no reason and that is something that I just don’t understand. The Wings had fallen behind to the Dallas Stars 2-nothing after the 1st period and as the players left the ice, Wings fans let the home team have it. Now I guess there could have been legitimate reasons for the booing, like inflated gas prices, the fact that “Two and a Half Men” just got cancelled or even that Justin Beiber cut his hair, but the Joe would hardly be the venue for those types of gripes. We have to face the facts: Fans were booing the players for another slow start, I guess, and the question is, why? If you watched the 1st period on Thursday night you would know that the two goals that beat Jimmy Howard were fluky at best. The Mike Ribero score was just bad luck as a puck went off Brad Stuart leaving the net wide open and the second goal was a shorthanded breakaway by Loui Erickson that Howard had little to no chance at. I get being upset about the “Shorty” and I understand that bad starts have plagued this team all season long, but is this where we now stand as fans? Are we this soft?

Before coming home for a two game home stand against the Sharks and Stars, the Wings had won 5 games in a row. Detroit continues to have the second best record in the Western conference and if the season were to end today our hockey heroes would have the third most points in the NHL. Also, let’s not forget that the Wings have had numerous injuries throughout the course of the season but yet they still found a way to get points on a given night and put themselves in a great situation to get another high seed in the playoffs. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is a good hockey team, so why are you booing? The better question is why are you booing before the game is even over? At the point where the boos originated, there were still 40 minutes of game time left. How many times this season alone have you seen Detroit come back from similar deficits? The answer is more than I can count on my hands and toes and your hands and toes as well.

Doesn’t this team deserve the benefit of the doubt? For the past 2 decades the Wings have not only been the best in the NHL but the best organization in sports. You know the stats! The amount of cups, Western conference finals appearances, the numerous President trophies’ and the fact that this team has made the post season 19 consecutive times are all second to none. This is not the Lions who have continuously let fans down throughout the course of my life. It’s not the Tigers with another second half collapse, and it’s definitely not the Pistons because people actually are going to the Joe which is more than can be said for the Palace. So again I ask, how can you boo after one period?

I brought this question up on the postgame show on Thursday night and people tried to make excuses instead of owning up to the booing. Callers said that the fans were booing the refs, and that could have not been the case as Detroit had 3 power plays compared to the Stars one, so why would anyone be upset at that? It wasn’t until the second period where the officials earned criticism after disallowing a Wings goal on a weak “incidental contact” call, and to the fans credit they too were booed as they came out on the ice to start the third period. So I ask again, how can you boo the Wings in that situation? The answer is, you can’t! Booing in that situation makes Wings fans look uneducated and whiney and for that, the roles should have been reversed, the Wings players should have been booing you!

What do you think?

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