In 2005, I met the woman of the dreams, Maria. Actually, she's better than the woman of my dreams. She's more than I ever dreamed possible. The two of us fell in love fast and hard. We would do anything for one another. For our first Christmas together, she showed just how far she'd go. My Christmas gift was two tickets to go see the Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena on New Years Eve! I was FLOORED. "I'm going to Detroit! I'm going to the Joe Louis Arena! I'm going to the Hockeytown Cafe!", I thought to myself. It was the perfect gift from the perfect woman. Then I thought to myself, "Why stop with a Wings game in Detroit? Let's go for it all." A week later, I bought an engagement ring. Not just any engagement ring either, the one she had been salivating over for quite some time. With the excitement of the trip, the game and, of course, the proposal, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. We went to Hockeytown Cafe, which was incredible, then to the game. Each of us wearing Red Wings jerseys, we entered the Joe and it was like stepping into a painting. I've seen it in pictures and on TV for years, but finally, I was actually there in person. Its like a Red Wings hall of fame in the corridors and like heaven to me. The game was great! The atmosphere was great. The Wings were playing the Blue Jackets, who had long time Wings star, Sergei Fedorov playing for them, so the crowd was really into it. The Wings scored 5 times, including a Mikael Samuelsson hat trick and they won, 5-2. After the game ended, it was my turn. It was either going to make it the greatest night ever or make it the worst. I thought about proposing to her in the Joe, but I already had a plan and I was too nervous to change things up at this point. Plus, if she's says no it'll taint the JLA forever for me. We got back to the hotel, we watched the ball drop on TV and it was 2006! We kissed for a second then when she turned around to get more champagne, I turned around and grabbed the ring. With me in my Wings jersey and with her in her Wings jersey, I got down on one knee said that I wanted to "start off 2006 with a bang" and asked "Maria Catherine Williams, will you marry me?" She looked at me stunned and said "Are you kidding?" At this point, I was wondering "maybe I should have done it at the Joe. Maybe with all the people around us, it would have forced her to say yes or at the very least prevented me from jumping off the balcony". But Maria immediately followed up with "YES! OF COURSE!". Visit the arena, Wings win and getting engaged. My own personal hat trick was complete!
During that same NHL season, the Red Wings made it to the Stanley Cup Finals and would play against, none other than the Pittsburgh Penguins. Of all years for this to happen, it happens the year Caleb was born. It was a hard fought series and my little man was right there with me in the rocking chair watching it. As the thrilling final seconds of that series ticked off the clock, I jumped up and celebrated. It was almost too good to be true. The Red Wings captain who shares the same first name as me, Nick Lidstrom, would pick up the Stanley Cup in the Mellon Arena, two minutes away from the hospital Caleb Yzerman was born in just 6 months ago. It was the greatest sports moment of my life and I don't think any championship will ever be able to top it. I know it sounds ridiculous, but in my warped perception of reality, it was like the Red Wings were winning the Cup in Pittsburgh for my son. Years from now, I cannot wait to take him to the Joe, point up to the rafters and show him the "2007-2008 Stanley Cup Champion" banner and say "They won that in Pittsburgh the year you were born."