Jun 11,2010

My Cup Overfloweth: The Trials and Tribulations of a Hockey Fan

I have a confession to make… I’ve been cheating on the NFL with the NHL. That’s right, I traded the gridiron for a barn, pigskin for biscuits, and a super bowl for a fantastic cup (only during the off-season, obviously).

And can you really blame me? For the first time since 1992, the Chicago Blackhawks made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. And for the first time since 1961 (that’s 49 years people), the Hawks skated to victory – bringing Lord Stanley’s cup back to Chicago! I get all emo every time I think of it. *Sigh*

I know some of you – especially if you’re from Philly – are rolling your eyes and thinking I’m all “bandwagon.” Well that’s simply not true. As stated in a previous post, I was a competitive figure skater growing up, which meant I spent the bulk of my formative years making out sharing ice time with all of the hockey players. Actually if I did the math, I bet I’ve watched more amateur hockey games than football and baseball games put together.

Let’s also remember that the late Bill Wirtz (remind me again why it’s frowned upon to speak ill of the dead) not only jacked up ticket prices, but also refused to televise Blackhawks’ games for much of the 90’s and early 2000’s. During those years I – along with most Chicago hockey fans – became Wolves supporters. Their games were televised, the tickets were cheap, and they played like effing animals. It was awesome. In fact, I still have a Skates The Wolf nightshirt that I wear to bed on occasion.

After moving to Los Angeles, I tried to keep track of both the Hawks and the Wolves, but it was damn near impossible. First of all, Los Angeles doesn’t have an AHL team… of course. Secondly, until 2007 I didn’t have the cash for cable, which often resulted in me wrapping both my television and my person with massive amounts of tin foil while hoping for the best. A friend once told me that my TV viewing habits reminded him of being 13 years old and craning his neck while watching a very scrambled Spice channel in the hopes of spotting an elusive nipple or girly part.

But I digress…

In 2005 – one year after ESPN named the Blackhawks the worst franchise in professional sports – I optimistically attended a Kings vs Hawks game at the Staples Center. Yeah, it sucked. Not just because the Hawks lost… by a lot… but because I was distracted by all of the “flash.” I kept wondering where the goons, and the muckers, and the real grinders had gone. I suppose I had been spoiled by all of those amateur hockey games after all. That was it. I gave up on being a professional hockey fan.

Then on New Year’s Day 2009, I made a resolution. I had heard that Rocky Wirtz was different than his old man. He seemed to be blazing new trails and extending an olive branch to disenfranchised Hawks fans. That day I sat in my mom’s basement and watched the Detroit Red Wings defeat the Blackhawks 6-4… at Wrigley Field. It was awesome. We might have lost, but the joy was back. A few days later, I returned to Los Angeles, wiped the dust off of my Hawks hat, and discovered Versus.

And so it is with great pride that I call myself a Blackhawks fan. The road has been bumpy, the new goal song is undeniably annoying, and I’m sure one of the Wirtz heirs will eff this up in due time… but right now all I can think of is the brand new Majestic Chicago Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup Champions Women’s Locker Room T-shirt that just arrived at my door.

Congratulations to the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. THE ROAR IS BACK!