BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
When the Detroit Red Wings lost a heartbreaking classic 2-1 overtime contest in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals Wednesday night to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City, I turned the television right off after the goal.
My girlfriend Candy said "I'm sorry your team lost" then she gave me a passionate kiss on the lips with her million dollar smile.
I thanked her with a hug and said My NHL Season is over. It's time to take care of other business and challenges this summer.
What I took away from the Red Wings stretch drive was they extended their consecutive playoff streak to 22 years. They had to win their final four games to get into the tournament and made it on the last day of the regular season.
Detroit upset the Anaheim Ducks winning their series 4-3.
Goaltender Jimmy Howard has given Red Wings fans hope for the future.
There is no question that Coach Mike Babcock did his best coaching job ever compiling a 24-16-8 record with a team saddled by injuries and incorporating younger players into the line-up.
It's tough enough to be a team in transition, but to do it with a week of training camp coming off a lockout is an amazing story.
This is a great momentum builder now that Detroit is finally moving to the Eastern Conference.
As much as the NHL infuriated and alienated a lot of people, the league rebounded real well as all of the "Original Six Teams" made the playoffs. I can't remember the last time this happened.
There were some great "Original Six" match-ups. The Toronto Maple Leafs faced the Boston Bruins, the New York Rangers faced the Bruins while the Detroit Red Wings did battle with the Chicago Blackhawks. It's very possible there could be an "Original Six" battle in Stanley Cup Finals.
The Red Wings and Blackhawks have now faced each other for the last time in the playoffs in the Western Conference.
Indeed, the NHL rebounded and made a "Great Save" in the playoffs.
The next winning goal is Conference Realignment next season as well as the numerous "Outdoor Games" scheduled. The NHL has found a new way to market, get larger crowds and have hit a home run with this idea.
My goal for next season is to cover all the Red Wings games in Florida, then go back home for the "Winter Classic" January 1, 2014 as Detroit faces "Original Six" rival Toronto at Michigan Stadium (The Big House) along with 100,000 others. This game figures to set the all-time attendance record for a hockey game.
I'm sure by then, Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland will have upgraded the roster as Detroit can prepare for a fresh start with an entire season as well as much less travel, in addition to building new rivals, rekindling old rivals and enhancing their fan base on the East Coast.
It's been an enjoyable Spring and I look forward to seeing the NHL's return in the Fall.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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