There's that saying of "it's not what you know, it's who you know." I firmly support this statement. Tonight is yet another testament of its truth.
As you guys can read in that little heading over on the side, I'm known as the craziest Wings fan at Caribou Coffee. Last year, one of the morning regulars who is a season ticket holder gave me his three tickets to the Season Ticket Holder Open House, where you can skate on the ice, tour the locker room, and get autographs from at least three players. That was perhaps one of the best nights of my life.
This year, he gave me the tickets again. Of course, I brought along my two brothers because otherwise they would kill me. And I mean that literally.
Last year, we were all about skating on the ice. We signed up for the first skate possible and were three of ten people skating at that time. It was awesome.
Our goal this year? Get Nicklas Lidstrom's autograph. Skating could wait until later [and it did]. You're assigned to one of the autograph stations and once they rip your ticket, you can go in the "overflow line" for any other table. How the overflow line works: everyone in the normal line [who has been assigned to that table] goes first, then the overflow line goes. So, in essence, if you're waiting in the overflow line for Datsyuk, you could be waiting for an hour.
There were three chairs at our table when we got in line up in the stands. We all took wagers on who would be there. If I may recall correctly, I guessed Filppula, Salei and...either Bertuzzi or Modano.
The lady in the row in front of us asked the person escorting the rows down where players were. The worker pulled out her list and was showing it. My brother got a good look at it and whispers loudly, "We got Lidstrom!!"
I didn't believe him. At all. Number one, he can't really see [I mean, he can, but he wasn't wearing his glasses] and number two, he's looking at the list from a distance and could be looking at a different section.
Player number one at our station: Dan Cleary
Cleary...doesn't seem to like these events. As you can see, his Blackberry is on the table. While the line was backed up, he started texting on it; he did this same thing at the Detroit Economic Club Luncheon - he was on his Blackberry half the time. So I decided to relieve his boredom and ask, "Hey, how are these things usually?" He looked up, smiled, and said, "They're... they're okay."
That's not exactly reassuring, Dan. And if you're actually reading this, I apologize if I'm making a broad statement about you enjoyment at these things. This is just what I perceive.
Player number two? NICKLAS LIDSTROM.
I was in awe. And, not to sound like a fangirl, but he touched my hand twice. Nicklas Lidstrom, unlike other players, took the puck out of my hand, signed it, and placed it back in my hand rather than sliding it across the table. Nicklas Lidstrom is all class. And he is so nice.
Player number three was Joey MacDonald. The picture didn't turn out of him.
So, having our goal accomplished by sheer luck, we were uncertain of what to do. Who should we try to aim for? Datsyuk? Zetterberg? We scoped out the tables. The ones I remember: Datsyuk, Salei, and Helm were at one, Zetterberg was with Miller, Ozzie, Kindl, Franzen, and Filppula were at one, Ericsson, and Salei were at another, and Bertuzzi, Holmstrom, and Kronwall were at another. We were vaguely tempted to get in Bertuzzi's line, but we met Homer and Kronner at this last year.
It was between Datsyuk and Franzen. We opted for Franzen. Despite having already met Filppula twice and having a signed puck and a signed picture of his goal in Game 2 against Pittsburgh in 2008 and getting a hug from him, I was all for it.
And I brought the Franzenmuth picture that's the header for this blog. This picture I made up two years ago after a typing error when I tried to type Frankenmuth. I sent it to someone at the Detroit News last summer in hopes that he would get a kick out of it/show it to Franzen. Which he did, and Franzen was confused by it because he didn't know Frankenmuth.
That was all going to change. Oh yes indeed. [sorry, I get a little carried away with epic things, hah.]
While in line, I had about four security people ask me about the picture. Two ladies thought it was cool, one guy chuckled, and the guy behind Kindl was thoroughly impressed.
Kindl signed my puck. And then it was on to Franzen. I had my brother take a video to document it.
You can't hear what I say at the beginning very clearly, so here it is:
Me: "I don't know if you remember, but someone from the Detroit News showed you this picture before..."
For the best part about this video, watch it again. But this time, just watch Filppula in the background. [maybe doubleclick and watch it in Youtube since Filppula probably gets cut off because of this layout.]
Here is the finished result. This will be in its own frame on my desk at home. I still get deked out of my pants looking at this signed photo.
Oh and as a side-note, after I explained it to Kindl, I looked at Franzen and said, "So you have an entire city named after you. I mean, it's fictional, but it's still a city!" And my brother told him he should go to Frankenmuth because "it'll be a good time."
Now, you may or may not know that Filppula is one of my favorite players and has been since 2007 or so. This next part just makes my life complete.
I had Filppula sign my jersey since I don't need another puck. And he kept looking at me with that cute smile and kind of glancing at the Franzenmuth picture since I still had it on the table. So I grinned at him and said, "Do you want to see it, too?" since Kindl was super involved before. He answered yes.
I showed it to him and explained the whole thing. He picked it up, looked at it, read, "Fran-zen-muth," sounding it out in his awesome Finnish accent, and started to giggle. And I mean giggle. He handed it back to me and I was entirely smitten.
We ate our free dinner of a hot dog, chips, and pop, and took pictures of the rest of the players. I stopped and watched Ozzie for a full two minutes. I should have asked for a quick picture - his line was going slow enough, but I didn't want to be a jerk.
We skated out on the ice with about a hundred other people and took pictures at center ice and in the penalty box. We opted not to do the locker room tour because the line was about three-hundred people long.
All in all, an extremely successful evening. This was better than last year's for sure, despite me impressing Kronwall last year with my Kronwall bag.
I am thankful for the people I know who give me opportunities like this. I owe them so much more than they can imagine. Opportunities like this don't come up that often and if I sound as though I come off bragging, I'm really not trying to do that. I just want to share my experience with you awesome hockey fans who will appreciate it.
I shall end this as every post should probably end:
Let's go Red Wings!