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  Red Wings Faithful Thinking Dynasty
By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 10, 1998; Page C8


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DETROIT, June 9 — With the self-proclaimed nickname "Hockeytown," the city of Detroit can't seem to fathom its beloved Red Wings delivering anything but a second consecutive Stanley Cup.

The only question around town, as the Red Wings opened defense of their 1997 title tonight, is when it will be appropriate to declare Coach Scotty Bowman's squad a dynasty and anoint it as hockey's team of the decade.

Red Wings players took pains to say earlier this week that they're not taking the Washington Capitals lightly. But their fans and local media are.

From an editorial in today's Detroit News, which closed with a gushing, "Go Wings!": ". . . We find ourselves gliding with the Red Wings in serene confidence toward a second consecutive Stanley Cup. . . . The Wings had made their bones as hockey champions long before anyone ever considered creating a Washington Capital. . . . You may have noticed that after just three weeks, the movie version of 'Godzilla' has clanked into third place at the box office, far below expectations. We expect the same sort of deflation on the ice."

All five Detroit Free Press hockey writers polled picked the Red Wings to repeat; four predicted it would take five games and one guessed six.

The Detroit News polled 20 national hockey writers and got 18 picks for the Red Wings.

Showing Their Colors
White may be de rigueur among the hockey faithful, but at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, red and black worked just as well, as long as it was on a Red Wings jersey. Nearly every ticket-holder sported team colors tonight. Several wore Beanie Baby-style octopuses on their heads.

John Kovach drew attention with his flashy homemade headgear. He started with a used hockey helmet, painted black wheels on its sides and attached huge red and white feathers to replicate the Red Wings' wheels-with-wings logo.

Kovach also carried a homemade red hobby horse decorated with a white pompom mane and feathers. "The horse is a symbol of Detroit — you know, horsepower," Kovach explained. "This is a Mustang. And when they play the cavalry charge song, I do a dance and ride the horse."

Kovach, 39, of Wyandotte, Mich., picked the Red Wings to win in five games. "Only because they need to bring it back here and win it here," he said. "We're the team of destiny. We're the team of the '90s."

Almost a Million
For a championship hockey team, taking 30 or so shots to score a single goal isn't unheard of. For Richard Chaifetz, the odds were far tougher tonight.

Chaifetz, a neurophysiologist from Lake Forest, Ill., stood to collect $1 million if he scored a goal from the blueline during the second intermission. He had one attempt, but the shot sailed to the right by approximately a foot. He had been training with Karen Bye, the top scorer on the gold medal-winning U.S. women's hockey team.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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