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(Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

The levels of fandom lead to emotions such as these, especially in this city.

Cubs fans can take losses knowing nothing is expected of them for years to come. White Sox fans know they’re stuck with an average big league club and a depleted farm system, and any signs of positivity they get are just a bonus.

When the Bulls bow out in the first round of the playoffs, their fans can shrug it off in what-could’ve-been fashion knowing their best player was lost to injury – again.

Bears fans? Blame Jay Cutler, root for the backup, watch a promising start “fade to black,” schedule your fantasy draft, rinse, repeat.

Tapping into Blackhawks fandom doesn’t afford you the luxury of burying yourself in any of those aforementioned situations anymore, though. The regular-season losses are analyzed down to the 18th skater more often than accepted as ho-hum. Playoff defeats are heartbreaking to the point of downright tragedy.

All of that comes with expectations, which the Blackhawks meteorically have risen since their surprising run to the Western Conference Final in 2008-09 and subsequent two Stanley Cup titles. There’s no more acceptance of losing a playoff series without a mandatory period of depression – no matter how long or short. Even those singing the praises of an exciting season and thrilling run to a fourth conference final in six years aren’t going to seek out a highlight of Sunday’s final goal. It hurts too much.

And you know what? It’s OK to be hurt. It’s OK to feel emotionally drained. Though our expectations certainly are a reward for being able to experience the finer moments in Blackhawks history, we’re still allowed to feel unsatisfied when they fall short.

The ‘Hawks are the only legitimate threat to win a championship in this city. When that’s taken away from us, we react in a manner that may call for a well-being check from friends and family members. I know I got a few texts Monday wondering how I was holding up.

The entire 2014 playoff run brought out our best and worst of emotions, especially the Los Angeles series. When that puck deflected off Nick Leddy and behind Corey Crawford to end Game 7 in overtime, it took some time for it to sink in – almost as if I didn’t want it to be over. I wanted to know what time puck drop was for Game 8. I went home from the United Center, sat on my couch, and kept thinking about where I’d be and what I’d be doing had the ‘Hawks advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.

No matter how much each defeat brought me down during the playoffs, I wanted to continue enjoying the ride. And I did enjoy it, despite what my doctor may have to say about my blood pressure.

Sometimes that ride, though, is in the backseat of a proverbial vehicle driven by someone like Joel Quenneville, whose roster (mis)management could often be described as baffling. It’s like flagging down a misguided cab driver who you have to provide with better directions to make your journey from Point A to Point B more comfortable, rather than letting him choose from the many options of alternate routes on his loyal GPS. You’ll question his methods when he demands a certain road is better, and you’ll even toss in a couple of four-letter words when he continues with his defiance.

For whatever the reasons may be that the Blackhawks won’t be repeating as champions this season, we invested ourselves in getting in that car and seeing where it takes us. Sometimes we don’t arrive where we hoped we would, and there’s no shame in feeling upset about it.

I take solace in the fact that we get to do this all over again after the summer. We’re all going to be back with our expectations in tow and hope of seeing Jonathan Toews lift Lord Stanley’s Cup over his head for the third time.

Let’s just hope we don’t have to experience this feeling again next June.