Photography by swanksalot
I suppose I should preface this article by admitting that I was never a hockey fan. I always preferred basketball and the Bulls, baseball and the Cubs and White Sox, football and the Bears. There was just no time for hockey, you see? I can remember being in second grade the last time the Hawks were in the Stanley Cup Finals. I would hear my friends and fellow ankle biters talking about how great the team was with Eddie Belfour, Jeremy Roenick, Chris Chelios and the gang. I didn’t participate in the conversations because I could give two squirts of piss about hockey. I was too focused on the team that was actually winning championships (Jordan and the Bulls) instead of the team being swept by Mario Lemieux and his Pittsburgh Penguins.
After that embarrassing appearance in the Cup Finals, the Blackhawks would spiral downward to almost complete oblivion. Then in 2004 through 2005, an entire season was lost to a nasty lockout which not only drove away loyal hockey fans but also demolished any chances of gaining new ones. Or so one would think…
Fast forward to 2009. The Hawks hire established head coach Joel Quenneville to lead their core of young players including Captain Serious Jonathan Toews, Patrick “Taxi Driver Punching, Stanley Cup Clinching Goal Scoring” Kane, and the rest of the yet to reach their potential roster. The team came together to go on one of the most incredible runs the NHL has ever seen.
The 2010 Stanley Cup Stretch Run
So there I was in the summer of 2010, rooting for the Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup, as if I’d been a fan my entire life. I even went out and bought my very first piece of hockey paraphernalia: a black on black 59/50 Chicago Blackhawks hat. It still didn’t make total sense to me: isn’t hockey a winter sport? Why are they playing for the Stanley Cup in the month of May? It was all so foreign to me, but it turns out that I kind of liked it. I liked watching the chess match that is a hockey game. I liked rooting for for a team I knew as a kid and heard family members and friends talking about. I liked opening my mind to a game I played a handful of times in gym class growing up. I liked watching the Hawks advance through the playoffs. I liked watching the Hawks sweep the favorites-for-the-win San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals. I liked everything about a Chicago team winning a championship. I liked watching a well deserved victory parade in downtown Chicago. I liked it. There, I said it. I liked it.
And that is why, after a lifetime of not giving a flying fuck about hockey, I hereby upgrade myself from casual fan to true Chicago Blackhawks fan. I guess all it takes is a Stanley Cup Championship, huh? I don’t ask for much.
2011 Season Preview
The Blackhawks enter this season tonight with elevated expectations than those from a year ago- winning it all will do that to a team. But I’ll tell you what: this year’s team is even better than last year. I know many of us fell head over heels in love with Goalie Antii Niemi but love will blind you from reality. The reality is that Marty Turco is a MUCH better all-around goalie than Niemi. Upgrade. In addition, the true core of the team is back and poised to repeat. Toews and Kane lead the attack. Marian Hossa is back for the second of his 47 year contract. Patrick Sharp will be kicking ass and taking names. My favorite Hawk, Dustin Byfuglien may be gone, but the defense is anchored by “The Toothless Wonder” Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell, and youngster Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Do you smell that? It’s the smell of a repeat. Good, because Chicago could use another sports dynasty. One Goal.
Blackhawks Season Opener
Tonight @ Colorado Avalanche
9:00 PM (CST)
Blackhawks Home Opener
Saturday, October 9th @ United Center