The Cup Resides in Chicago – Some Thoughts in The Afterglow
It finally happened….
In my lifetime…
The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup!
Ahhh, the celebration amidst friends and family was sweet indeed. I was hoping to have pics by now of us celebrating, and me wearing my Bobby Hull autographed sweatshirt, but will post those when I receive them via email.
There was a time, right after the Hawks bumped off the Sharks, that I thought the Cup was going to be theirs. I wasn’t going to make predictions though, or write about their shortcomings, or about how Patrick Kane still rubs me the wrong way a little bit. I just thought that the worst competition was eliminated and that Philadelphia wouldn’t be that tough – but then I hadn’t really seen much of any of the Flyers’ games.
I really want to take my hat off to Philly. I mean, they ground, and crashed, and limped and fought the Hawks all the way. While all eyes were looking at Anti Niemi to be the weak spot, nobody looked to Michael Leighton. Sure he was great earlier in the playoffs but he’s still Michael Leighton and against a high firepower team like the Hawks, I wasn’t sure he could handle it.
In the end, Niemi wasn’t a weak spot, even though he wasn’t great either.
Michael Leighton was a weak spot.
Goalies. This series showed how important they can be in a game. If either goalie got relatively hot in this series- I don’t mean scalding Patrick Roy hot, just a notch above Anti Niemi- the series would’ve definitely gone to that team.
Philly needs to look at their goaltending situation in the off season. That last goal just shouldn’t happen. Period.
Speaking of which, that has to be the most bizarre finish to a tournament competition in the history of sports. We sat there watching, not sure to jump and scream or wait for the next face off or what. Kane saw it go in , and Leighton knew it was in as well (I just think Leighton was trying to sell it to the ref that he had it in his pads and was hoping for a whistle.) Everyone else just looked and thought, “What happened?” (I love how Anti Niemi acted when Kane jumped him. He acted like someone in an airport getting hugged by a person who mistook him for someone else.)
Then there’s this song from YouTube that pokes fun at how many people jumped on the Blackhawks Bandwagon. To be truthful, it got frustrating in how getting tickets for the Blackhawks was like getting tickets for the Chicago Cubs. I mean, sure you could get tickets, but the tickets from the 300 level and above were the first ones to sell out. It just cost too darn much and was too hard to get a group of folks together for a game at a reasonable price. I mean, there can’t be that many people who know hockey in this city, right?
But, as with the Cubs, when everybody loves a team (incidentally, I’m a Sox fan) everyone left doesn’t want to be left out. (Witness 2 million people at the rally today!) One thing is for sure: John McDonough and crew know how to market.
Still, here my brothers and I had a Blackhawk head painted on the floor of our basement when we were kids in the early 70’s! (It’s still there when we sold the house this May, as this picture will attest.)
So yeah, it felt at times that it was wrong not be able to score tix for a game or two.
But, then today I saw a guy buying ice cream with his family. He had a Hawks t-shirt on. And it dawned on me, there were so many fans that felt disenfranchised by the Hawks (dis)organization. These people remember Bobby Hull, and Mikita, and Esposito ( I was Tony-O when I played on that concrete floor). But, as things changed over the last couple of years, these people have come back.
Now, add in the new folks that really don’t know the old glory days of the Hawks, that might not even know hockey that well, but they know it’s a great time, fun and exciting, you can watch it on FREE TV,buy pretty dang cool jerseys (I say the coolest in the NHL) and you’ve got a huge fanbase.
So, I realize now that I shouldn’t be as critical of the ‘bandwagon’ as I’ve been. In some weird way, it’s just one big family.
One big family with a really cool silver trophy sitting in their front room.
Family and trophies…
It was great to see Chicago Wolves Ex-GM Kevin Cheveldayoff get a ring with the Hawks as their Asst. GM. The man knows what it takes to win championships and he’s responsible for my being able to drink from the Turner Cup.
Yup, that night, after they beat the Detroit Vipers, after almost everyone had left from a hotel bar next door to the Rosemont Horizon (aka The Allstate Arena), a handful of players came in carrying the Turner Cup. They brought it up to the bar and the bartender poured champagne into it. The few fans still there got the opportunity to drink from it. I still remember that silver shining beneath the bubbly and some woman off to the side saying, “Drink up big boy” (or “big guy” but regardless, you get the idea.)
It was something I’ll never forget.
This time the Cup I drank from was hand-made by my niece, nephew and younger brother.
It was no less sweet.
It’s all about family.