(Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune)


Patrick Kane fires a shot so fast that neither Whirl nor I nor the announcers nor Michael Leighton nor most anyone watching see the puck go in the net. The lamp doesn’t light. The bench doesn’t clear. Wachovia Center falls quiet. For several heartbeats everything is eerily still. Four minutes, six seconds into overtime and I hold my breath. Did it go in? Kane is cheering. Sticks are flying. Did it go in? Gloves are strewn all over the ice. Did it go in? The Blackhawks bench finally does clear. Did it go in!?

It did! It went in! Video review confirms what Patrick Kane already knew. Kane fired the puck beneath Leighton’s legs and wedged it underneath the padding at the back of the net. Game over: Blackhawks win 4-3! Series over: Blackhawks win 4-2! After 49 years the Blackhawks have brought the Stanley Cup back to Chicago.

I watched most of this season’s regular season games on television. And with a huge thanks to my friend, Farmboy, I was able to attend several playoff games at the United Center, both last year and this year. And it’s become something of a tradition for me to lose things at Blackhawks games. Watch, wallet, phone– voice. These have all been sacrifices of one sort or another I’ve had to make while attending. I am sorry for none of it.

I watched many of last three seasons’ regular season games since they’ve been broadcast on television– a fantastic development accompanying the changing of the guard from Bill Wirtz to his son Rocky. Before 2007 it was nearly impossible to watch the Blackhawks on television. If you wanted to see them play, you had to see them live. And I did that — not as often as I would go to see White Sox baseball. But certainly more often than I would see basketball or football. Hockey — for me — has mostly been constrained to a couple of weeks every four years when the Winter Olympics provide an opportunity to watch hours upon hours of the sport on television. So that’s what I did. I’d record hockey whenever the games aired and watch them whenever I had the chance.

I wanted to play hockey very badly when I was a kid, but my parents wouldn’t allow it. Given my tendency to find creative ways to injure myself, this may just have been a very wise decision. The father of one of my childhood friends took my to my first hockey game and taught me how to skate. I ended up helping to put together a broomball team with my friends when I was in high school. But broomball is not hockey.

It has been incredible to see the resurgence of interest in the sport in Chicago. There is an incredible amount of complexity and tradition in the game. I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve been able to be a part of that: talking strategy and history with Smokes and Farmboy and Stingo. Yelling at the top of my lungs. Farmboy remarked to me in early 2008 that hockey never really left Chicago, but it sure is back!

Kiss the Cup!

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