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June 7, 2008

First European Born, Trained Captain To Win Stanley Cup

History was made Wednesday night when the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup. Detroit’s captain Niklas Lindstrom was born and trained in Europe and he is now the only European captain in history to lead his team to Stanley Cup victory. Lindstrom is from Sweden and played junior hockey in his home country.

Lindstrom is a quiet player. He doesn’t fight, shows up and works the blue line game in and game out like no one else in the league can. If he were not a member of the team that was the arch enemy of my favorite team growing up, he would be one of my heroes. Of course, even though the Wings are not my team, I was there to see him ride down Woodward Avenue in Detroit with the Cup hoisted.

Another piece of NHL history to put in your trivia bank: Dan Cleary is the first person from Newfoundland to win the Stanley Cup. His time with the Cup will surely bring great joy those that crowded bars in Newfoundland to see their native son win the Cup.

No matter what you think of the Red Wings, or even hockey in general, it’s impossible to not be happy for the Red Wings. Detroit is a city under siege from drugs and poverty. A corrupt mayor and the failure of the auto industry have crippled the area. The educational system is terrible, boasting the lowest high school graduation rate in the country. Things have fallen apart in Detroit. Trust me. I’ve watched the city of my birth crumble into the depths of despair.

That is why, even though I am not a Red Wings’ fan, I am happy that they were able to bring something positive to Detroit. Some people will say that hockey is just a sport and that the Stanley Cup means very little but that is simple not true. First of all, the Detroit Red Wings are instrumental in charities around Michigan. They bring up the communities that they live in and if you ever see one on the street, they speak and act like your average everyday person. Many Red Wings reside in Bloomfield Hills and Northville Township, areas close to my parents’ house. It has not been uncommon for me to see a Red Wing here or there and get an autograph or a gentle smile and head nod. The Red Wings don’t just play hockey, they are good neighbors and they present a positive family orientated image.

Today it was nice to see the city come together and crowd the streets for the parade. Even though it is sweltering hot today and the sun was insistent, we were all there. People from all walks of life, races, ethnicities backgrounds. We stood side by side, sweating, staining to see Lord Stanley’s Cup and those that brought it to Detroit. We clapped and cheered and had a wonderful time. I was able to see every single player clearly. Today is a good day in Detroit.

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