By: Jeff Riger
I’m not one to tell fans what to do when they attend games. If they want to boo they should boo, if they want to heckle, they should heckle, if they want to do the wave, well, I think you know where I’m going here. However, when I heard the news that Sergei Fedorov was going to play in the Alumni Game at Comerica Park on New Year’s Eve, I felt my silence should be broken.
I’m writing this blog to ask the thousands of Wings fans that are in attendance on December 31st not to boo Sergei Fedorov.
Ever since Fedorov bolted for La La land back in the 2003 offseason, fans here in Hockey Town decided to let Sergei have it every time he came back to the Joe. And, boy was there a lot of times he came back. From the Ducks to the Caps to the Jackets, Fedorov spent a lot of time playing for the opposition in Downtown Detroit and in every game he was showered with boos. Granted the negative jeers grew less and less as time went on, Sergei was always public enemy number one here after he left.
And, I don’t blame you!
Fedorov reportedly turned down offers for $40 million over four seasons and $50 million throughout five years with Detroit to leave town essentially for the same amount of money or even a bit less with the Ducks. He turned his back on the Wings to go elsewhere. Some say he wanted to no longer be in the shadow of Steve Yzerman while others say he just wanted out. Everybody was angry! You should have been.
Sergei saw his career decline after he left Detroit. He was never the same player with his other three teams or in his time in the KHL either. In fact after the lockout in 2004, Fedorov never had another 20 goal season, something he did routinely with the Wings. Of course Sergei also dealt with his fair share of injuries during that time. I don’t know this for sure, but I assume if he had it all over to do again he would have decided to stay in Detroit, knowing what happened after he left. Fedorov even was consistently a trade deadline rumor late in his career as the pundits were sure that he was coming back to the Wings to finish playing. It obviously never happened.
Through it all the boos didn’t stop!
Fans quickly forgot the 3 cups that the Wings would never have won without Fedorov, or his entire 1998-99 base salary of 2 million dollars that he donated to start a charity to assist Detroit area children. The NHL is a business and Sergei had every right to bolt no matter what his reasons were considering his happiness in Motown had come to an end. Fedorov knew the deal, he knew the fans would hate him and that is exactly what happened.
But now things are different! Fedorov is retired. Why would anybody continue to boo him?
New Years Eve 2012 is a chance for Wings fans everywhere to give thanks to Sergei for all he did in a Wings uniform. Booing him for leaving would be childish. Nobody has to be reminded of the Cup drought that Fedorov helped snap. If only for that, doesn’t he deserve a standing ovation? I think the answer is obvious.
The Red Wings are one of the classiest organizations on the planet. Shouldn’t their fans be the same way?
If you boo Fedorov this time around you will be sending the message that his legacy is that of leaving the Wings. That’s not the case. His legacy should be the winning and the three banners that hang at the Joe. Get over your hurt feelings and give #91 the love that he so rightfully deserves.
Now if Nick Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman would just commit to playing, everyone can enjoy a stroll down memory lane come the Alumni game. Of course this is all assuming that there is hockey this season, which is a different blog for a different day.