This week, RWD interviews the notorious Fire Helmet Guy, a Gopher Fan Extraordinaire, Real Life Fireman, and Duluth Bar Scene Superstar.
RWD: So, what's with the nickname?
FHG: Well, anyone who has been to a Gopher game knows. I wear a fire helmet painted maroon and gold. The helmet was kind of a rookie prank when I became a regular on the fire department. So I painted it up for Gopher games. Actually, if you scrape off the maroon and gold it's PINK underneath. LONG STORY. [ed. note: I disagree. It's probably a short story he doesn't want to tell.]
RWD: How did you become a Gopher fan?
FHG: Typical response, just grew up watching them. Did not actually go to my first Gopher game at Mariucci til I was about 21! But I was always a fan.
RWD: Interesting. So, I hear you are a closet UMD fan... how did that start? [I had this wonderful setup for this question and it didn't work, so this interview isn't actually as funny as it should have been.]
FHG: Well I do own a UMD Penalty Box shirt and one of the Boston Bar Tour shirts they had the year they went to the Frozen 4. It's just a little inside joke with some of the UMD people and some of my Gopher buddies. When you know guys like the Penalty Box guys you don't mind seeing the Bulldogs win... unless they are playing the Gophers! [Note: some penalty box members are actually not guys, I hear.]
RWD: And you have quite the love affair with the city of Duluth... what's your favorite place there?
FHG: Oh yeah, I love it up there. My favorite place would be, well let's think here, it's a tough one... The Sports Garden.
RWD: I never would have guessed. If you were to sum up the Sports Garden in one word, what would it be?
RWD: Not... EPIC????
FHG: Oh crap....mind block. That would work too. [I left this in, even though the joke didn't work. Yet another dud. Funny how I didn't have any last week...]
RWD: Okay, so you told me in the email this is your first interview. Does that mean Fox 9 has not gotten to you yet?
FHG: Not yet. But I could probably tell them some stories about hockey players at bars... but I'll leave it at that. Don't want to see any of the squad get in trouble. I think it was this same week last year when it started to boil over about the whole deal.
RWD: I will be turning over the transcript of this interview to the Investigative Team. So look out.
FHG: Crap. I'll be a marked man at Mariucci now. And now Bulldog fans will probably be buying me beers this weekend.
RWD: Yeah, that's no good, it's not like you blend into the crowd. But back to the Fox 9 question, what do you think really went wrong last year?
FHG: As far as what, the end of the season?
FHG: I honestly don't know. As most people have heard before, hockey is a funny game. I guess they may have peaked too early, just lost the heart at the end there. It's too bad too, you hate to see the team they had go out that way. But we've gotten over it... which is more then I can say for Sioux fans! lol
RWD: I personally own a Holy Cross game-worn jersey from the regional game, so it's not just Sioux fans...
FHG: WOW! OUCH.
RWD: It smells slightly of Gopher defeat.
FHG: Gopher defeat... I was thinking more along the lines of mustard gas... seeing it was at the Ralph.
RWD: Ooh, zing! I was at the 3rd place Final Five game and I couldn't believe it was the same team from the previous night. Do you think it was just fatigue?
FHG: I think that had to play a big factor in it. I mean to come from behind like that and then to lose a tough one in overtime I think it had to be somewhat of a factor. Even with the loss though, it was still a fun game to be at. The atmosphere was magical that night. [And there was a happy ending.]
RWD: No kidding. It was nuts. There were a lot of Gopher fans (clearly not you) cheering for St. Cloud over tUMD that Thursday. I bet they wish tUMD had won...
FHG: I don't know. As most WCHA fans know, any team can win on any given night. That's what makes the WCHA league so fun to cheer for. I guess I really hadn't noticed, I was hoping to see UMD win that one... shocking I'm sure. lol
RWD: I noticed, probably because I nearly fell out of my suite screaming at a Gopher fan.
FHG: Yeah, it seem there are very few liked Gopher fans out there. [This person in particular was totally unlikeable.]
RWD: Very few liked Yankee fans out there, too. But who is your most hated opponent?
FHG: UND, without a doubt. It used to be UMD the first couple years but UND is by far my most hated opponent. Just going up to the Nazi Bunker, they think our fans are obnoxious and annoying, they need to look in the mirror. But you can't deny the rivalry, as far as hockey I think UND is the biggest rival for the Gophers.
RWD: You hated tUMD? Alert the presses!
FHG: The first couple years I went up there it got pretty intimidating, but it's gotten a lot more mellow the last few years up there.
RWD: There is a lot of debate over who the "biggest rival" is for Gopher hockey. I would say it comes down to UND and the Red Menace, and I think you could make an argument either way. Personally, I've always thought it was Wisconsin, because the rivalry expands beyond hockey, but if we lived in a hockey-only microcosm, I'd say UND.
FHG: UND NO DOUBT. Sconnie is the rival in the big picture of Gopher sports but as far as hockey goes, it's UND. Just my opinion though.
RWD: I see we are on the same page here. I guess it's either Fascists or Communists, and in the end, they're both the same...
FHG: Pretty much. WOW, A Gopher fan and Bulldog fan agreeing on something. The end is near!
RWD: Oh man, I better ask a tough one now, I can't have that last. Who will we see in goal this weekend: Long Island Frazee or Kellen Smorgasbriggs?
FHG: Both. Kellen "Pay Your Tab" Briggs on Friday and Jeff "Pour Another" on Saturday. I think they will split until at least mid-January. [FYI: That's when the games start to actually "count."]
RWD: Have you, as a hockey fan, accepted more than $100 in free food and drinks from hockey boosters?
FHG: Heck no, I WISH! It gets spendy to drink down by the "U".
RWD: I have accepted many free drinks from hockey fans, based both on my witty repartee and my attractiveness.
FHG: NICE! You gotta go with what works. That's what I always say. God, is it Wednesday yet?
RWD: I had to say that, because in my last interview I said I was fat for comedic effect, when in fact I am not. But on that note, for my female readers (all 2 of them), is there a Mrs. FHG?
FHG: Oh god no! Why end a great life by getting married. I'd rather run into fires all day and night non-stop and burn alive than fall into that trap. Maybe a little too descriptive, huh?
RWD: Well, there's always the 'Toga.
FHG: That's what I always say.
RWD: Who would you say is the most attractive player on your current squad?
FHG: I haven't looked at them that close to even be able to tell.
RWD: I personally like Blake Wheeler.
FHG: Um, I'll go ahead and agree so we can move on from this very uncomfortable question. lol
RWD: Not yet, buddy. Suggest an alternate hairstyle for tDon.
FHG: The Don's hair is the 8th wonder of the world. It's a masterpiece.
RWD: I notice it is not hereditary. Do you think Tony Lucia was brought on the team as a spy?
FHG: Could be. I was kind of surprised he made the team, but he has been doing o.k. so far. He is a physical player that the Gophers can really use. And I'm sure he can drink with the best of them.
RWD: He is probably drinking seltzer water while wearing an oversized cowboy hat with a camera in it.
FHG: Well, they never did show the camera person last year for the Fox 9 report!
RWD: Speaking of physical players, and also players RWD likes, is Wheeler improving this year?
FHG: Well I don't think he can be any worse. He has been pretty impressive so far. I compare him with Barry Tallackson from a couple years ago, all that size and he didn't put it to good use. Wheeler could be a little more physical in his game. But if he keeps scoring some goals I can deal with it.
RWD: God don't say that. I hate Barry.
FHG: Yeah, I'm not real dissapointed he's gone. But he always did seem to come alive in the post-season it seemed like... so at least he played when it mattered most I guess.
RWD: Who's your favorite player? On this squad, and all-time.
FHG: On this squad right now, Jay Barriball. The kid is a STUD for being so small, he's not afraid to grind it up with anyone, plus I share his jersey # so there is some camaraderie there. Of all time... wow, thats tough. I would have to say Grant Potulny. He had such great leadership on and off the ice. And for him to overcome all the hype for being one of the first out-of-staters for the Gophers. He was awesome!!!
RWD: I notice you would not comment earlier about hottness but then you called Barriball a stud... interesting.
FHG: He's a stud on the ice.
RWD: More favorites: who is your favorite broadcaster for the Gophers (radio or TV)?
FHG: Doug Woog. I love the "Woogerisms" as we call them. For radio Glen Sonmor is a class act as well. Who could forget his "take that you stinkin' Badgers" quote from last year? I'll add my least favorite, and that would be Reed Larson from a couple years ago, because he ripped on the fire helmet.
RWD: Wow, that's tough. Singled out on the airwaves!
FHG: You damn right! And who could forget when Wooger called DHG "Tubby" on the PA and Dubay show last year?! CLASSIC Bulldog vs. Gopher moment.
RWD: Explain what is wrong with Woog when he is not speaking on camera. He stands there stunned, like a deer in headlights. Is he a.) drunk b.) high or c.) both?
FHG: I would have to say d.) Hungover still!
RWD: Even on Friday nights?
FHG: You never know. Thats what makes those guys so fun to listen to.
RWD: Let's have a prediction for this weekend.
FHG: Oh boy. There is one big factor that weighs heavy on me for this weekend... NO MORE ISAAC. I think the chances of a Gopher sweep are very good. BUT with that said, they do always have a hard time at the DECC with the small ice.
RWD: What's going to win these games for you guys? What will lose it?
FHG: If the "D" takes a weekend vacation they will lose, they need to play the Dogs strong on their home ice. This freshmen class of sharpshooters will be what wins it. Okposo and Barriball are scoring machines right now.
RWD: All right. I'll forward that to the coach... And the K is really silent in Okposo?
FHG: If Barriball gets a hat trick on Saturday, the helmet may be thrown over the glass onto the ice!!!! Yes, the K is silent. Glad to see that rumor is getting around.
RWD: That's a pretty big if there. You better hope your team scores 3 goals the whole weekend.
FHG: Oh I think they will. Sounds like Stalock needs to learn how to stay in his net a little more.
RWD: Sorry. I have trouble with the trash-talking. Yes, that would be true. But all the great ones play the puck.
FHG: It always seems like Bulldog goalies stand on their head when the Gophers come to town, so really anything can happen. Like my buddy says, these are two teams that don't like each other, you can throw the record books out the window. Or something like that.
RWD: Well, I think that about wraps things up. I hope the arena doesn't fall on your head this weekend.
FHG: Oh well, if it does, what a place to die... up in my favorite city.
RWD: With 5493 of your closest enemies. [Assuming a sell-out crowd.]
Anyone who wants to party with FHG will find him at either the Sports Garden or Club Saratoga, starting on Wednesday.