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Sometime in the future

Tuesday, 03.23.2010 / 10:35 AM / Columns

By Paul Kukla - NHL.com Correspondent

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Sometime in the future
After years of playoff planning, Paul Kukla is now playoff sweating as his Detroit Red Wings fight to make the postseason.
As a fan of the Detroit Red Wings, I am normally in a relaxed mode this time of year. Casually watching games, making sure no one gets injured, while the players prepared themselves for a long playoff run.

I would watch other games too, trying to figure out who the Wings would be facing in the first round and then breaking down the on-ice matchups.

This season, everything is different. For the first time in 19 years, the Wings are fighting for every win in order to guarantee a spot in the top eight of the Western Conference. Truthfully, I am not used to this.

Living and dying with every shift, period and game can make a man of my age lose a few years off his life expectancy. I am a nervous wreck and I can now appreciate what fans of other teams have and are going through.

Not knowing if your team is going to make the playoffs can be a heavy burden to carry. I can only imagine what it feels like (believe me, I don’t want to experience it) if your team makes a great run this season only to fall short of making it to the second season.

Do you just give up, throw in the towel and avoid any NHL talk for a few weeks? Do you take the attitude that not every team can make the playoffs and then start rooting for your second favorite NHL team? Or do you randomly follow your favorite players, not really caring which team they play for, but just want to be amazed by individual play? Let me know.

Personally, I know I would be extremely disappointed if the Wings somehow failed to get into the playoffs, but I would still follow the games and would probably cheer for an underdog team, while hoping for a great playoff season filled with games decided by one goal.

I want to go a little deeper into the conversation with fans of those teams that have not been able to make the playoffs in recent years. Yes, it must be very frustrating and I can understand you feelings, but you can’t give up at this point in time.

You are a fan and that means living through the bad times as well as the good times, which right about now may seem so far away. But I can speak from experience, so hear me out.

The Detroit Red Wings were once the laughingstock of the league. Attendance was so poor they had to give away a new car at every game to entice fans to attend games.

The Wings drafted poorly and seemed to have no sense of direction. Fans were outraged, screaming for firings, trades and boycotts. The Wings fell off the map in Detroit, but loyal fans remained and have been rewarded with an organization and team we all can be proud of.

Basically what I am trying to say is stay loyal to your team. If you do, the reward you receive sometime in the future will be one of great euphoria. You will reflect back on these words when it does happen, and it will and then it is your responsibility to pass on your feelings to suffering fans at that moment in time.

We all want to be associated with winning, but sometimes losing just makes the winning even sweeter. I’ve been there and have experienced both sides and you will be too, sometime in the future.

Want to talk hockey, shoot me an email at pk@kuklaskorner.com or follow me on Twitter.
Quote of the Day

Unless he really collapses, I don't see him going anywhere. I've been very impressed with his composure and maturity. Once the regular season started, he was a different guy; it was like game on and almost as if he's been around for a long time.

— Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon on rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad
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