DETROIT, Michigan -- With the Carolina Hurricanes playing the dreaded neutral zone trap, the Stanley Cup Finals have become about as exciting as watching paint dry. To combat the boredom, writers from the Detroit and Raleigh newspapers seem to have entered into a competition to see who can come up with the most creative insults for the opposing city.
At the start of the series, most of the jabs came from Detroit writers, carrying on with Montreal journalists' reference to Raleigh, home of the Hurricanes, as "Mayberry," from the name of the TV locale for "The Andy Griffith Show."
On 3 June, the Detroit Free Press' Jemele Hill wrote "Aunt Bee and Opie meet Hockeytown."
Mitch Albom had a debate with his fictional North Carolinian cousin "Moonshine" in a 4 June column in the Free Press.
On 6 June, Ned Barnett of the Raleigh News & Observer replied as a guest columnist in the Free Press.
"OK. It's supposed to be funny. And there are some funny things about a new transplant in a Southern market playing for Lord Stanley's Cup. But when it comes to the Mayberry-Tobacco spittin'-NASCAR jokes, North Carolinians have heard it all before."
Okay, so we get the point. Anything said up here in Hockeytown has already been heard in the Triangle. Sorry, we're just now getting the chance to play this game; we didn't realize everyone else had tired you out.
I personally thought the jokes were playful, adding some fun to a series brought down by slow, choppy play. The fact that NHL hockey has only been played in North Carolina for five years, in Raleigh for only three, seemed to tie in with the jokes.
There have been no "Mayberry" references in the Free Press since Barnett's column.
On 7 June, following Carolina's loss in Game Two the night before, the News & Observer's Barry Saunders penned, "When Detroit wins, the city loses."
Saunders suggests that "the police and business owners" are rooting for a 'Canes victory because "Detroit fans are sore winners. Let them win anything and they take to the streets, looting, pillaging, burning."
He points out the millions of dollars in property damage and one death caused during the celebration of the Detroit Tigers' 1984 World Series victory and the eight deaths and many injuries following the Detroit Pistons' back-to-back championships in 1990.
At no point did he mention the fact that the celebrations following the Red Wings' 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup Championships, which included over a million people on hand for the victory parades, went off without a hitch. He was content in summarizing, "If that's their response to a victory, you don't want to be around when these geniuses lose."
I ask Mr. Saunders that he check his facts before publishing defamatory remarks. Wings fans haven't turned to violence, unlike his implication.
We'll prove it again this year.
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