Nice article Tom. Certainly puts in the perspective the whirlwinds of life and the rewards that come with patience and perseverance.
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I was inspired to write this up real quick after reading yours, Tom. I'm going to cross post in on other blogs, possibly.
What a great playoff season, series and era.
I'm not sure why (over '10 and '13), but this win has been the one that has brought back a lot of memories. Maybe because of the gravity of what is, now, a larger body of work? A span of time that I could have never imagined, let alone predicted? I feel like I'm already looking back on the experience as an older man...
I got tears in my eyes earlier today reminiscing about times I had thought were forgotten. And the thing is, I thought the centerpiece to those memories and experiences were the Blackhawks, but I'm realizing the team was the glue that gave family and friends a common goal for a couple hours every few days or so. I hope no one minds me sharing some of my highlights here:
• In the early 80s, I remember waiting for 'my time' to come, because my mom thought Chicago Stadium was too loud for a little guy like me --- What I remember now is walking the stairwells with my dad. And for years after that, it WAS loud and I loved it.
• My dad buying me a pack of Topps hockey cards whenever we'd get something from White Hen Pantry. I still have all of them including a Mario Lemieux rookie - MY kids are going to have to sell them, because I can't.
• Still, in the early 80s (and probably in to the 90s), we listened to games on a cheap red plastic pocket radio (my pops confirmed he still has it today and I'm so grateful he does).
• I remember meeting Marc Bergevin and Al Secord as players when I was 5 or 6. I remember they were kind and down-to-earth and they shared a chuckle or two with my mom and dad (I have no idea what the 'joke' was, but I didn't care).
• I thought watching stars like Eddie Belfour, Jeremy Roenick, Chris Chelios and Steve Larmer lose to the Penguins was as good as it might ever get. That sweep in the Final killed me. ***Side note related to this year's Final: (loosely) Steve Konroyd, Jimmy Waite and Steve Thomas were all on that team***
• When the 'Hawks were (get this) IN THE PLAYOFFS in '01-'02, I delivered Eric Daze's brand new [Dodge Ram Pickup Truck???] to his home and took a single rock from his landscaping as a memento. Still, as a 21-year old, I worshipped my hockey heroes...I was even star struck when running into Kyle Calder once right around that same time. These were the highlights for me when times were bad.
I've always been all or nothing, and still lived and died with Hawks wins (as few as they were at times) and losses.
• Now, I believe it was the '07-'08 season - even though the Captain and PK were introduced that year, I think we got our hands on 2nd row from the glass for a buck a piece FROM THE ORGANIZATION. I think it was a promo toward the end of the year. I was thrilled. I remember telling my wife that these two guys were going to be awesome. I didn't know just how awesome. ...and I think they JUST missed the playoffs that year, but would have likely been eliminated in the first round anyway.
It broke my heart when they were terrible, but I would always be committed. On the other hand, I can totally see how so many hardcore fans were lost along the way. It's not so much being fair weather. I think it was more that (and this is with any team) we feel disrespected when we 'give' so much and it's lost on those who are supposed to be sharing in that dedication and giving back.
What saddened me, though, was that my dad, who got me hooked in the first place had given up on a team who he had been cheering on since the 60s.
• Of course, the following season, I was overwhelmed with excitement about what was to come, and my pops was back on board.
I guess the point of all of this was (and as you may have heard from bloggers, fans, journalists, players, etc.) - Cherish This. Now.
Does it end here? We don't know. I sure as hell hope not, because this is just too good.
But if it does end or if there's a lull, it's still hockey, baby - It's a great sport and the more you know, and if anyone has the chance to start playing (doesn't matter your age or skill) - the more you can appreciate what these guys do on the ice AND the game as a whole.
It creates memories and bonds that last forever.
Ugh. I'm just old enough to have suffered through all of the bad times
and remember the good players that got shipped away as their free agency
My uncle and mother made sure I loved Dirk Graham (I was a huge Belfour, Larmer and Roenick mark. I even tried desperately to trick-or-treat at Larmer's house after some bad intel.)....and of course BOTH of them died just before the 3 title streak started.
Kills me a bit. I only cared about this crap because of them. Okay, it kills me a lot.
Hell of an article. Lots of feelings.