It’s a strange time for Red Wings fans. The NHL season is just starting to get good. Detroit is in a battle to keep its playoff streak alive and looks like its finally getting everybody healthy.
Then the season stops for two weeks.
Now, you’re freaking out. You’ve been so focused on the season you don’t know which Red Wings are where and which ones you should root for.
I’m here to help you. With the Olympic hockey tournament starting today, here’s your definitive Red Wings fan’s guide to the Olympics (only teams with a Red Wings connection are included):
Red Wings players: None, but Mike Babcock is the head coach and Steve Yzerman is the general manager.
Why you could root for them: Might as well jump on the bandwagon before the competition starts. They’re the defending gold medalists and are the favorites again this year, like they are every year.
Why you couldn’t root for them: Seriously, you’re going to pick a team based on a coach and a guy who played on the Red Wings eight years ago? One of your team’s Red Wings connection will never step on the ice. The other will only step on the ice for the medal celebration.
Realistic chances you’re objectively picking it to root for: None. This is a site that spends the better part of its time looking at the bottom of rosters and trying to figure out which forgotten player will not cut. Favorites are not welcome here, unless they play in Detroit. The only acceptable reason you’re rooting for Canada is that you’re Canadian. And I mean real Canadian, not born-there-but-moved-here-when-I-was-three Canadian, or my-mom-is-Canadian-but-I’ve-lived-in-Ferndale-my-whole-life Canadian.
Red Wings players: Pavel Datsyuk
Why you could root for them: Datsyuk is treasure. Plus, the Russians are on home ice. The crowds will be nuts. It’s fun to root for a team that gets a huge ovation when it does good things.
Why you couldn’t root for them: Datsyuk is coming off an injury. It’s unclear how effective he’ll be and how much he’ll be used. You could be rooting for a team that has a very small Red Wing presence, and if Datsyuk isn’t 100 percent, you’ll also be likely rooting for a loser.
Realistic chance you’re objectively picking it to root for: Moderate. It’s always fun to back the home team, but Russia is in a demilitarized zone between being an underdog and a favorite. That’s a risky bandwagon jump. Unless you really love Datsyuk and have inside info that he’s going to be ready, it’s probably best to stay away.
Red Wings players: Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar
Why you could root for them: The former country of Czechoslovakia won eight medals in hockey in the Olympics. The Czech Republic has won two. One of them was gold. Slovakia has won none in the five Olympics its been a country for. In the first four it never made it past the quarterfinal round and even finished in 13th place (second to last) in the 2002 Games. But in 2010 it upset No. 2 seed Sweden in the quarterfinals, then fell to eventual gold medal winners Canada, 3-2, in the semis and Finland, 5-3, in the bronze medal game.
Slovakia is an underdog, but one that’s capable of making a run. If they do, it’ll be behind the two Red Wings on their team. Eight of Slovakia’s 14 forwards play in a league other than the NHL, which means Tatar and Jurco should see plenty of ice time. Tatar has already established himself as a top-line player. Jurco will be further down, but can’t you see him going off and scoring like four goals against Slovenia?
Why you couldn’t root for them: It’s too much of a long shot and it’s not going to be able to sneak up anybody this time. With Russia and the United States in its group, Slovakia will likely finish outside the top eight and be the underdog in the qualification game before the quarterfinals, making the road even tougher.
Realistic chances you’re objectively picking it to root for: Very high. From the underdog status to the two Red Wings having a big impact there’s a lot to like here.
Red Wings players: Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson, Gustav Nyquist, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Jonas Gustavsson.
Why you could root for them: They have the most Red Wings and the majority of them will see significant playing time. If you’re basing your decision purely on which team winning the gold medal will make the most Red Wings happy, Sweden is your club. Plus, they’re a contender for gold, but not the evil empire that Canada is.
Why you couldn’t root for them: When it isn’t winning gold, Sweden tends to choke: A loss to Slovakia in the quarterfinals four years ago, the loss to Belarus in the quarterfinals in that absurd game in 2002. Also, they’re always kind of a trendy pick.
Realistic chance you’re objectively picking it to root for: High. It likely will go deep into the tournament and could win gold, making them a high reward team, considering the quantity and quality of Red Wings. It’s also high risk, though. Are you willing to take the chance of a soul-crushing loss in the quarterfinals?
Red Wings players: Jimmy Howard
Why you could root for them: Howard probably needs your support more than any other Red Wing. The U.S. is the reigning silver medalist but hasn’t won gold since the 1980 games, which is the longest drought of any country that has won Olympic hockey gold outside of Great Britain. (The Brits last won hockey gold in 1936.) Also, they’re America.
Why you couldn’t root for them: Howard is the third-string goalie and likely won’t see a game in the tournament. You’d be essentially rooting for a Red Wings-less team.
Realistic chance of you objectively picking it to root for: Moderate to high. Breaking the drought would be a great story, and the Americans are always a fun team to watch. It’s a medal contender and could snag the top overall seed heading into the quarterfinals. Also: America.
Remember this information. Study it. Learn from it. Feel like your ready to make a decision on which team you’re rooting for?
Good. Now ask yourself one question: Do you live in and/or are you from the United States?
Yes? Then welcome to Team USA.
No? Then get out.
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!