Like so many of us during this pandemic, Heather Petrie has been deprived of doing something she loves — attending Detroit Red Wings games.
But the Windsor woman may be rewarded for her intense fandom in the coming weeks as she is one of eight finalists in the Upper Deck MVP (Most Valuable Person) contest to find the NHL’s most passionate and dedicated fan who has “made a positive impact on their fan community and culture.”
“I really just love being able to go to every single home game and just cheer on my team,” Petrie said Friday.
“I make a lot of fun signs and things like that.”
Her “Wing-Nut” alter ego has red hair, wears a Red Wing wingnut-shaped hat, glasses, watch, T-shirt, jacket and a red tutu. Her red Honda Civic has the personalized licence plate ‘WINGIRL’ in a Red Wings frame, and there is a large Red Wings decal on the back window. Her Windsor home is packed with Red Wings memorabilia.
“I really just love going to the arena, win or lose,” Petrie said. “When you’re there 45 nights a season, people become like your family.”
Petrie learned of the contest a few weeks ago and quickly submitted her info, some photos and an essay that got her chosen as one of the final five Red Wing fans.
After weeks of voting on Twitter, Petrie took home the Detroit MVP title this week, which includes a $500 Upper Deck prize pack.
In the coming weeks she’ll battle seven other fans of NHL teams for the title of Ultimate MVP and a prize pack worth $3,000 that includes your own trading card in next season’s set, a reclining chair, a computer chair, a mini fridge, a lamp and two pillows.
To vote, fans need only like the following tweet: https://twitter.com/UpperDeckHockey/status/1393265352788701187.
Petrie had attended 245 consecutive Red Wings games at the Joe Louis and Little Caesars arenas prior to the last pre-pandemic game in March 2020.
She hasn’t been back since the Canada-U.S. border has been closed ever since to all but essential travel.
“It’s been really difficult to be stuck away from my friends and the team that I love,” said Petrie.
She said some of her American Wings fan friends have attended games among a sparse crowd but have told her it’s just not the same as a packed house.
“I think they’re just saying that to make me feel better,” Petrie said.
She is a member of the Detroit Red Wing For’em Club of volunteers who help out at games, sits behind the home net during warmups and is the official goal judge for the equipment team’s pre-game puck toss, where they try to land pucks on top of the net.
Petrie has four Wings-related tattoos — Al the Octopus, the Detroit skyline, Joe Louis Arena’s exterior and centre ice.
She plans to get a tattoo of the Gordie Howe International Bridge with the No. 9 reflected in the water of the Detroit River but is holding off until the bridge’s design is finalized.
Petrie is going up against one fan each from the Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights.
The MVP contest continues until May 24 at 11 a.m.