11 June 2010

A Good Week to be a Blackhawks Fan

After 49 years of futility and less than three years since Rocky Wirtz ascended to power, the Chicago Blackhawks have captured Lord Stanley’s Cup. While some may see this team as a team of destiny and others may see them as fortunate to have won, I’ll opt to choose neither. Buying into destiny may allow one to shrug the daily grind; after all, if something is fated it does not have to be worked for, one might reason. Saying that the team was fortunate suggests that luck was the primary operator. While the hockey gods certainly smiled on the team, the grit and determination on display in Game Five of the Final is a testament to how hard work creates luck. For example, Pronger was not made less effective by luck but rather by solid, fearless hits. The “luck” resulting from working hard against Pronger was his taking penalties at key moments – and making the Flyers pay for them.

I rather see this great win as a testament, as you might have guessed, to perseverance and dedication. Denis Savard asked his troops in January 2008 to “commit to the Indian,” a reference to the famous Blackhawks’ logo. And even after being relieved from his coaching duty, Savard is still committed; evidence his continual presence as a Blackhawks ambassador. Pat Foley, the voice of the Blackhawks for as long as I can remember, is another shining example of dedication. Though he was asked to step aside for a time, no one doubted that he would be back under Rocky Wirtz’s leadership. Even long-since-departed ‘Hawks felt the pull of this great victory. Jeremy Roenick, a member of the 1992 team which was swept in the Final by the Penguins, nearly broke into tears in the aftermath of Kane’s goal. In that one moment, with that culminating goal, it was as if every Blackhawk, past as well as present, had won the Cup. In an interview after the game, it was clear that the great Bobby Hull, the Golden Jet, had himself shed tears.

Thankfully, the victory is shared by Blackhawk fans everywhere. For those of us who have followed the team though the good, the bad, and the ugly, Kane’s goal may have been a moment of sickening hesitation, the desire to celebrate coupled with the fear of hearing “No goal.” We fans have, after all, felt just about every emotion a fan may feel. I, for one, felt great release once the goal was official, once the match was decided. Perhaps I’m a little odd, but I did not jump and shout and such; I simply stood, smiled, and took it all in. My disbelief, charged with recognition, became intense gratitude for the sacrifice of the players and coaches. They may never know what this victory means to each life-long fan, what they have provided for all of those fans who committed long ago to the Indian. But they certainly felt the magnitude of their win at the intersection of Michigan and Wacker today. A heartfelt thanks from afar to the team and the organization from Blackhawks fans everywhere.

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