My team won the Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks are my team for two reasons, both of which are of the highest quality. 1) Chicago is one of the Original Six. I like the old-line franchises. Or the Canadian franchises. 2) My nephew lives in Chicago and is a huge hockey fan.
The Blackhawks beat the Bruins 3-2 Monday to win the Cup, and Chicago scored two goals in a 17-second span, the latter with 59 seconds left in the game, to win the clinching Game 6. I just happened to remember the game was on about 9:30 p.m. I flipped it on while I worked, which means I didn’t see either goal, but I certainly heard them. And I told my wife, Dustin is bouncing off the walls.
Sure enough, a few minutes later, he called.
“I just can’t believe this,” he said. “I’ll remember this the rest of my life. This is how sports fans are born for life. I’ll never forget this as long as I live. I’ve been a sports fan my whole life, but I’ve never felt as engaged, as emotionally connected to a team. This is something special.”
Dustin just turned 33, lives in downtown Chicago and plays ice hockey in a Chicago adult league. He didn’t make it to any Blackhawk playoff games this season, but he watched on his 70-inch television “and I felt like I was there. I’m just happy we won the Cup. Just an amazing day.”
It was great to hear from him, but it also was cool to hear the pure joy that sports can bring. It will be much like that for thousands of Oklahomans when the Thunder wins its first NBA title.
We were in Chicago three years ago, in May, during the Blackhawks’ run to capturing the Stanley Cup, and Dustin and the city itself were all afire over hockey. I thought it was cool, but I’ve never caught the hockey bug.
I tried to turn myself into a fan when I was a kid, but there just weren’t enough games on television to claim me.
I caught a good chunk of the overtime of Game 1 the other night, but that’s really all of the Stanley Cup I had watched. On the radio the other day with Traber and Eschbach, I had to admit to them my lack of NHL acumen. I told them I knew more players from the ’70s than I know today. Over dinner the other night with OU writers Jason Kersey and Ryan Aber, we got into a discussion about hockey — Ryan is a pretty big fan — I recounted the radio story and upped the ante. I said I could probably name as many Blackhawks from the early ’70s as I could name all hockey players today. I named Tony Esposito, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita. With a little help, I came up with Sidney Crosby from the contemporary NHL. And I was done.
But I can appreciate the sport. And its history. And most definitely the passion it invokes. I write a family Christmas letter every year, with updates on most everyone, and Dustin laid down the law. He doesn’t care what kind of nonsense I write about him this year, but the Blackhawks have to make the Christmas letter. I don’t know about all that, but the Blackhawks definitely have made the blog.