Yes, I completely stole the title of a Green Day song. Don’t judge me. I love the month of October. The days are still pleasant, the nights are great for sleeping with the windows open, and hockey season is upon us yet again. What’s that? I didn’t sound excited? Oh, okay, lemme fix that…
IT’S HOCKEY SEASON!!!!!!!
Better? Okay…moving on.
Some folks get all spun up for the Daytona 500, some for Opening Day of baseball season, others for the first Monday Night Football game. Don’t get me wrong, I understand their excitement and I admit I get a little excited for those days as well. But not like I do for hockey. Go figure. I never played the game on ice growing up, I’m not Canadian, but as soon as the season starts, I become rabid. You know those guys who spray spit across the room, screaming at the top of their lungs at the TV, wild-eyed-foaming-at-the-mouth-fanatics? Yeah, I’m one of them. Especially during the playoffs. From October to April, I’ll cheer, grumble, curse, but generally watch the game quietly. Once the playoffs start, I become that playoff-beard-wearing fool.
My wife is reading this and thinking of cost-effective ways to sound-proof my man cave before April.
Now, I can watch most games without screaming at the TV and just simply enjoy it. Notice I said most. As long as my team isn’t affected by the game, I can sit there, admiring and analyzing the play. Heck, I may not even watch the game, just have it on as background noise and occasionally checking the score. That usually happens since I live in St. Louis. I wasn’t born and raised here, I really don’t have an emotional tie to the Blues. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll watch a game, but it’s not a priority. Another team, however….
Yes, I grew up watching the Chicago Blackhawks. From October to April, I bleed red, white, and black. Despite my time in the military, I have an uncontrollable urge to cheer through the National Anthem whenever I’m at the United Center. I don’t like the St. Louis Blues, which makes things interesting in our household as my wife is STL born and raised. Got nothing but contempt for the Vancouver
Cannots Canucks, and while I respect them, I despise the Detroit Red Wings (F***ing Scum!) with every ounce of my being.
Chris Chelios, Eddie “The Eagle” Belfour, Jeremy Roenick, Denis Savard, Steve Larmer, Tony Amonte – those were the guys I remember watching when I was younger. I mourned the end of The Madhouse on Madison, cursed Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz as he did his best to financially strangle the team, and damn near cried the night of June 1st, 1992 (this will come into play later).
The “dark days” of the past decade coincided with my time in the Army, so while I kept an eye on the ‘Hawks, I knew I wasn’t missing much. It sucked, but I’m a Chicago sports fan. I’m used to not seeing the post-season. Not nearly as bad as Cubs fans (those sadly optimistic demented fools) , but the McCaskeys (owners of the Bears) and Jerry Reinsdorf (owner of the White Sox) have been toying with my emotions for years.
September 2007, the news broke that Bill Wirtz had died and his son Rocky had succeeded him as owner. I didn’t expect much, after all, it was “Dollar” Bill’s kid taking over. But things started to change. Roster changes were made, the franchise became more fan-friendly, and (the most telling sign of all) two familiar faces from the team that won the Stanley Cup in 1961. “The Golden Jet” Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, who had not been on good terms with Dollar Bill, had come back to the organization as “hockey ambassadors”. For the first time since Cheli had left for Detroit, I dared to hope. 2009 saw the ‘Hawks lose the Western Conference Finals to the Scum. Disappointing, but farther than they’d been in years. Could we dare to think about it next season? Would this team be able to pull it off? June 9th, 2010, they pulled it off and the Blackhawks faithful lost their minds.
Remember how I told you I damn near cried the night of June 1st, 1992? That was the last time the ‘Hawks had been to the Stanley Cup Finals and the only time in my lifetime.
18 years since the Blackhawks had been to the SCF, and 49 years since a Blackhawk captain had last hoisted the Cup over his head. I didn’t cry in 1992, but I had a big damn smile on my face in 2010. The floodgates opened when JR told his story.
“It’s the Chicago Blackhawks, man.” A year later, I sometimes catch a tear leaking when I hear “Chelsea Dagger”.
So here we be, the eve of the 2011-12 season. The ‘Hawks squeaked into the playoffs last season when the Dallas Stars lost their final game. They managed to take Vancouver to the limit, but they ultimately lost the first round. Chalk it up to Stanley Cup hangover. It’s a new season, some roster moves have been made, and everyone is rested. They brought the Cup back home to Chicago a year ago, but that’s not enough. We want a dynasty. Let’s start the ride.
“Chelsea, Chelsea, I believe….”
EDIT: As I mentioned above, my wife is a Blues fan, STL born and raised. Our daughter, who is also STL born and raised, made an important life decision a few weeks ago.
I am a proud Daddy. 😉