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Detroit Red Wings season ends, but competition for top hockey fan heats up

Trading card company Upper Deck's contest awards the "team MVP" crown to one fan. Meet the reigning Red Wings champ and one of this year's final five hopefuls.

Diane Woodring (WTOL)

Heather Petrie

The Detroit Red Wings season ended Saturday in a loss, but there's a chance for one fan to achieve a big win.

It's been a little while since the Red Wings hoisted the top prize in hockey, but fans have had quite a few accomplishments of their own.

It's not his name on the Stanley Cup, but one fan got a pretty cool prize through trading card company Upper Deck's "My MVP Contest" last year. 

The goal of the contest is to crown the top hockey fan in North America. Fans from 18 teams competed in the first-ever Upper Deck competition. The first round was to determine the nominee who most exemplified team spirit. The final round was to determine the winner of the overall crown. Winners were determined by popular vote through likes on Twitter.

For 2021, eight National Hockey League teams are participating in the competition. The top five candidates for each team were picked from hundreds of entries.

The contest is down to those final five top fans for each of the eight teams. Voting is again done on Twitter and the "Team MVP" will be selected from the most votes by May 10 at 2 p.m. EST.

Winner for Team MVP takes home a $500 prize pack and overall Ultimate MVP winner snags a $3,000 assortment of prizes including their trading card as part of Upper Deck's 2021-22 The Cup card set (and bragging rights.)

WTOL 11 caught up with last year's Detroit Red Wings winner and one of this year's hopefuls to see what it takes to be the ultimate Wings (and hockey) fan. Both share the same diehard passion, but in different ways. One has the ultimate fan cave you've got to see to believe and inherited his love of the Red Wings - and decades of being a season ticket holder - from his parents. 

The other is in the final five for this year's top Red Wings fan honor, whose story shares similar roots that began as a kid. She's undoubtedly seen more losses than wins from her team as the Red Wings weather a tough rebuild. She amassed a streak of unbroken consecutive in-person games dating back to a time that marked her own personal win by kicking a bad habit and replacing it with a healthier one: Detroit Red Wings hockey.

Let's introduce you to the guy who leaves some big skates to fill as the reigning Team MVP.

Credit: Jeff Kotimko
Jeff Kotimko's prize as 2020 Detroit Red Wings Team MVP included a custom Upper Deck trading card (and trophy) plus some extra My MVP gear.

2020's winner was Jeff Kotimko of Gaylord, Michigan. As "Team Most Valuable Person," Kotimko was honored with his very own Upper Deck trading card. A perfect collectible for a hardcore collector.

The back of Kotimko's card reads, "Jeff's parents purchased Red Wings season tickets in 1984 that he still has to this day, and he watched Steve Yzerman's entire career from those same two seats, which are now at his house after the arena closed. Jeff even plans his vacations, wedding and honeymoon around the team."

We mentioned he's a collector. That barely scratches the surface of what defined Kotimko as last year's Red Wings Team MVP.

We'll catch up with Kotimko later for more. It's time to highlight that member of this year's final five in the running for top Detroit Red Wings fan.