Anyone with any history at OtBB knows what a huge Detroit Red Wings fan I am... and have been for the past 58 years!
When the first puck drops in the Fall to start the NHL season, I live and breathe hockey and have been blessed with seeing my team claim Lord Stanley's grail four times in the past dozen years, and reach the finals two other times since 1995, including the season just ended.
Read now how I came to have an authentic souvenir cap of the seventh and concluding playoff game from June 12th.
Last year on the eve of Game 1 of the Finals, I received a 'phone call from Jiggs Rogers, my son's old college roommate, his best man, and a Pittsburgher through and through.
Within ten minutes he had me convinced that not only would the Red Wings have their hands full, but that there was nothing in the Western Conference to compare to the skill set of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marian Hossa, and that Detroit would be fortunate to leave for Pennsylvania with a split on home ice.
(Jiggs is a very enthusiastic and compelling speaker, one of the reasons my son has always insisted that he will someday be the Mayor of Pittsburgh.)
Greatly relieved that the Wings had held serve with two convincing shutouts, by series end I felt that his enthusiasm for the Pens abilities was not misplaced so much as over-stated. I sat and awaited a congratulatory 'phone call which never came.
A fortnight later, I called Jiggs and roundly roasted him for making me so apprehensive and then not having the grace to call and say "good series" or something appropriately sportsman-like.
And I hadn't been in communication with Jiggs since then, even after it became apparent that the Pittsburghs and Detroits would again meet in the Stanley Cup finals.
As hockey fans know, this year's show-down went to the deciding game all even, and through an odd convergence of circumstance, I wound up watching the final period of game seven on satellite TV in the tour bus of the band which first Jiggs and then my son had ram-rodded for most of the past 16 years.
Later when parted and I was asked if I expected to hear from Jiggs, I announced that if I got home and learned that Jiggs had called, I was going to drive to Pittsburgh and squeeze his head 'til it popped.
But there had been no message from Mister Rogers.
Cut to 4:30 the following afternoon, and I got the call!
It was the first time we'd spoken in over 11 months. I cursed him resoundingly for being an insufferable fair-weather fan, and then he related his last 30+ hours.
Jiggs and a friend had driven from Pittsburgh to Detroit for the game... in the "entertainment tour" business one has innumerable contacts in arenas all over the country, so tickets were not a problem… went to the game, stayed for the celebration, then arrived back home at 5:00 am that morning.
And he wanted me to know he had a memento for me from "the Joe…" a Finals cap with both the Pens and the Wings logos on it.
It arrived last week... it's a good quality cap, and feels good on my head.
I probably won't be wearing it a great deal, but if anyone sees me with it, this was the story behind it.
First game I saw, Dean, Rangers beat the Wings with Jack McCarten in goal.
But - best goalie move - Terry Sawchuck on the Rangers - gets beat by I think Bobby Hull for a hat trick - a lone hat falls to the ice - Sawchuck steps on it with his stake blade, tosses it in the air, and then with his stick bats it back into the crowd - the Ranger fans give him a standing "O."