Acquaintances always ask me which holiday my wife and I celebrate during this festive season. This occurs because I was raised a Jew — but am now an atheist — and Melissa Muss was brought up in the Christian faith.
We exchange gifts at this time of year, but with no real rhyme or reason. I gave her a present during Chanukah even though she was born Episcopalian and I got my gift on Christmas Eve. Nine years ago when we got engaged, she told me she would convert so there would be more clarity. My response was, “Convert to WHAT? I am a devout non-believer and if we ever have kids they will be raised as humanists.”
I advised her that if she wanted to go the Ivanka Trump route and labor through the requisite classes and take a milk bath when it was all over, she could do whatever the hell she wanted but to not expect me to take part in any of it. I ended the diatribe with the following … if she wanted to convert to atheism, we could do it during that evening’s episode of “Real Time” with Bill Maher by swearing on Christopher Hitchens’ best-seller, “God Is Not Great.”
Look, there is only one holiday I ACTUALLY celebrate during December and it’s not Festivus or Kwanzaa. It takes place tomorrow. Yes, December 26th, but it’s not Canada’s Boxing Day either. No, any longtime reader of the DSR knows, this website’s high holiday is “Sergei Fedorov Five Goal Day.” The anniversary of the Hall of Fame Red Wing center scoring five times against the Washington Capitals in 1996 is our Yom Kippur.
And not only did #91 light the lamp five times, he did it in a 5-4 overtime victory against the Caps at the JLA. He. Scored. All. Five. Goals.
And unlike Jesus’ alleged birth or Moses “parting the Red Sea” or Xenu ordering Incident II, we actually have video of Fedorov’s amazing accomplishment …..
Us Orthodox Fedorov Five Goalers insist on watching that full 8 minute and 37 second clip, but the heathen reformed among us will settle for this abridged minute and 49 second reel …..
I’ll never forget where I was on that magical evening. Per usual, my family was spending the holiday break in South Florida and we had just walked back into our condo in Hallandale after a dinner** at Joe’s Stone Crab as the game was starting. Luckily for my sister Keri and me, the game was being broadcast nationally on ESPN. For you millennials, there was no Slingbox or NHL.TV back in ’96 so we caught a huge break that night.
(** — You might ask how we were already done with dinner and back at the Hemispheres by puck drop. Well, my grandfather liked eating early so we were at Joe’s by 4:30. And considering he hated I-95, we had to take Collins all the way down which meant we left for dinner at about 3 in the afternoon. The previous day.)
And then the miracle commenced. First, 91 buried a slapshot in the high slot after a perfect passing exhibition put on by Vladimir Konstantinov and Igor Larionov. Then Vlady sent Sergei off to the races on a blind breakout pass, which led to Fedorov skating in all alone on Jim Carey. The Selke winner promptly buried a wrist shot top shelf, right corner.
With the Wings down a goal halfway through the third period, Sergei tied it up with a slam dunk off another beautiful passing play by “The Professor” and “The Impaler.” At that point the hats started raining down on the Joe Louis ice.
About a minute later, Dale Hunter put the Caps up for a third time that evening but Fedorov wouldn’t let the Wings lose. This time Larionov and Slava “Papa Bear” Fetisov set up Fedorov perfectly for another goal-line dunk.
The game entered overtime. Old-fashioned OT with 5-on-5 for five minutes — without a shootout to eventually decide a winner. And at 2:39 of free hockey we witnessed almost a carbon copy of the night’s first goal with Vlady creating space and then making a perfect drop pass to Fedorov who then beat Carey with a quick, low wrist shot that just evaded the Washington goaltender’s right skate.
Sergei Fedorov 5
The sacred text from December 26, 1996 can be found here.
Exactly three months later to the day, the infamous Wings/Avalanche brawl occurred. Then, 73 days after the brawl, Detroit had its first Stanley Cup champion in 42 years.
But it is Sergei Fedorov Five Goal Day which is the DSR’s ONLY official holiday on the calendar and, unfortunately, this year it’s pretty fucking hard to celebrate.
Another 365 days have passed in the Year of Our Hart Trophy Winner and Fedorov’s number is STILL not retired by the Detroit Red Wings organization. It’s a travesty. It’s sacrilegious and I will not rest until 91 is hanging from the rafters at Little Caesars Arena.
It was a huge slap in the face to Sergei when he wasn’t properly honored at the JLA, but the indignity he has to suffer knowing that both Vinnie Johnson and Richard Hamilton have their numbers hanging from the rafters at the building the Red Wings call home while his #91 is a ghost must be galling for the first ballot Hall of Famer.
I know it is for me. It eats me up inside because there is absolutely ZERO justification for Fedorov not to be properly feted. And shit got worse earlier this month when Chris Ilitch announced to the world that Jack Morris and Alan Trammell would have their numbers retired by the Tigers in August of 2018.
That proclamation came 65 minutes after the Baseball Hall of Fame made it official that Morris and Tram would be inducted in Cooperstown. This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Tigers organization, owned by the Ilitch family, will not retire a player’s number if he hasn’t been recognized by the Hall.
Considering the fact that Lou Whitaker is not being given the same honor — even though he is the equal of his double-play partner and far superior to that asshole starting pitcher being celebrated — it is obvious that the Ilitches allow the Hall of Fame to dictate which players they will properly commemorate.
And yet Fedorov still waits… even though he was a FIRST BALLOT Hall of Famer who didn’t have to backdoor his way to enshrinement through some Modern Baseball bullshit.
I mean, Tram and Lou’s numbers should have been retired YEARS ago whether a bunch of baseball writers with an East Coast bias thought they were worthy or not. But let’s look at Jack Morris vs. Sergei Fedorov.
Jack Morris played 13 seasons in Detroit.
Sergei Fedorov played 13 season in Detroit.
Jack Morris left as a free-agent to take less money in Minnesota.
Sergei Fedorov left as a free-agent to take less money in Anaheim AFTER Mike Ilitch pulled his offer to Sergei because he thought Fedorov was taking too much time deciding.
Jack Morris didn’t like how his free-agency had been handled a few years before he eventually left Detroit and was part of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against MLB (which included the Tigers) for collusion.
Sergei Fedorov didn’t think the Wings were offering him a fair deal in 1997 so he signed an offer-sheet with the Carolina Hurricanes establishing his fair market value. Ilitch matched the Pete Karmanos tender.
And let’s be clear about something: Jack Morris was no Sergei Fedorov. There is a reason that Morris had to wait 23 years from his retirement to get into the Hall. Whether you believe in old-school numbers like ERA or advanced metrics like WAR, Morris doesn’t deserve to be included.
Meanwhile, Fedorov was one of the top five two-way forwards in the HISTORY of the NHL. Even though #91 played his last five North American seasons in other cities, he still holds these positions in Detroit Red Wings franchise history:
10th in games played
4th in goals
7th in assists
5th in points
2nd in +/-
And Fedorov has the highest point-per-game average in the franchise’s postseason history. Ahead of both Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman. And Fedorov trails only #9 for the regular-season mark, for fuck’s sake.
Earlier this year, the NHL announced a list of the Top 100 players of all-time to commemorate the league’s centennial season. Here is the list of players from that Top 100 who played in one city for a minimum of 13 seasons and do not have their number retired by that organization ….
He’s a Hall of Famer.
One of the Top 100 to EVER lace up skates.
He won three Stanley Cups in this ungracious town.
Yet it has now been 21,864 hours since it was announced that Fedorov would be entering the Hall in Toronto. Without any accompanying press release from Mike Ilitch stating that Fedorov’s number would be retired.
Jack Morris had to wait ONE hour.
The same Jack Morris who was a total dick to the fans in Detroit during his tenure and who humiliated a female intern/reporter from the Free Press in the Tigers’ clubhouse back in 1990.
In June of this year, Red Wings GM Ken Holland stated that it was probably time to have the discussion about whether or not Fedorov’s Wing-Wheeled jersey should be retired. That was six months ago and we haven’t heard a god damn peep from the Ilitch family since.
Sorry, it’s not time to have that DISCUSSION. It’s time to come to that REALIZATION.
This continued snub is a stain on the franchise and now that Morris’ number is being retired based on the HOF criteria we all know this is simply pettiness toward Fedorov by the Ilitch clan.
Because when Morris left for the Twins back in the winter of 1990 the Pizza Man owner of the Tigers was Tom Monaghan and not Mike Ilitch.
This is a personal vendetta that should have died with Mike Ilitch back in February.
It’s wrong and disrespectful to an entire era of Red Wings hockey and it needs to be righted IMMEDIATELY.
Retire #91 now.
George Clooney has Darfur.
Bono is trying to eradicate world hunger.
Well, my cause célèbre is righting the wrong of the Ilitch family ignoring the importance of #91 and I am not going to quit this crusade until Sergei pulls the curtain off his jersey and it’s rightfully raised to the Little Caesars Arena ceiling.
And finally ….
…… a happy Sergei Fedorov Five Goal Day to you and yours.
(You can follow Moss on Twitter @JeffMossDSR. You can discuss this article on Facebook by clicking here. You can also go fuck yourself if you’d like. Totally up to you.)