Twenty-somethings across America often have one goal on Thanksgiving eve, and that's to turn "Black Wednesday" into something that resembles "Blackout Wednesday."
It is the biggest bar night of the year and the one time where (almost) nobody has work the next morning. Why not have a drink (or twelve) when the only thing to wake up for the following day is Thanksgiving turkey and football?
While the average Joe's Thanksgiving-eve memories consist of nothing but old friends, lots of alcohol and awkward exchanges with high school acquaintances, Blackhawks fans should forever view it as something more after 2009.
Remember that? I do. For me, it was the night where the club's hunt for its first Stanley Cup since '61 became legitimate. The thought of Jonathan Toews hoisting the most coveted trophy in sports was more than a pipe dream. This team was for real.
This game at San Jose was significant for two reasons. First and foremost, it was Marian Hossa's first game as a Blackhawk. He finally felt strong enough to play after rehabbing the injured shoulder that kept him out of the first month and a half of action. Chicago was excited to see if the hype was real, and he quickly proved his worth with two goals in the game.
Second, it was against the 1st place San Jose Sharks, who many experts considered the best team in the NHL at the time. Who could argue? Their top line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley was the most talented in recent NHL memory and their depth wasn't bad either. The Hawks, however, were riding a long winning streak and wanted to make the experts rethink the notion that the Sharks were the team to beat.
I was on my third beer, leaning against a bar stool as the puck dropped a couple minutes before 9:40. I was surrounded by hundreds of people but was zoned in on the flatscreen above the dartboard as Quenneville made an immediate line change to get Toews, Kane, and newly acquired Marian Hossa onto the ice at the same time. Only several years removed from placing all of my eggs in the Calder/Arnason/Bell basket, just the sight of this made the hair stand up on my arms.
The Hawks led 1-0 after the 1st period and it seemed as though it would stay close throughout. Then the 2nd period happened.
"Good stick there....it's gonna lead to a chance for the Hawks! A chance for Hossa, right to the net, he scores!"
The Marian Hossa era had begun. This shorthanded goal was gorgeous. The Hawks had great players, but never had I seen any of them make something look that easy. I was still celebrating Hossa's arrival when the following happened less than 30 seconds later:
"Wristshot never got through....and back comes Sharp..races--Demers fell down! Sharp's gonna get in! Sharp dekes him, he scores!"
It was after this shorthanded goal, their 3rd of the game, that I realized we were witnessing the Blackhawks' true coming out party.
Excited text messages poured in; most of them were incoherent ramblings of uncontrollable obscenities. This type of dominance is what we had waited a lifetime for.
The Hawks scored again. And again.
While up 5-0, Joel Quenneville's demeanor never changed. With his foot placed firmly on the bench in front of him, the still unsatisfied coach yelled orders and wanted his team to "keep puttin it on!"
This whole thing was honestly a Blackhawks orgasm.
The Hawks went on to win the game 7-2, and the impact was felt in more ways than one. Already rising ticket prices skyrocketed, sports radio personalities started to actually mention the Hawks (well, most of them did), and casual sports fans took notice that we had a true title contender in Chicago. Jay Zawaski wrote the following day that the Hawks looked unstoppable, and that "maybe...Team Canada could beat them." Obviously, Jay was being sarcastic. I think.
Indeed, Black Wednesday should forever hold a special place in the hearts of Blackhawks fans. I doubt the schedule makers did it on purpose, but the Hawks will once again travel to San Jose for a 9:30 pre-Thanksgiving tilt on Wednesday night.
We won't be saying the Hawks are world-beaters regardless of the outcome, but what better time for the semi-struggling 2010-2011 team to have a coming out party of their own?
On second thought, anything similar to Saturday night would do.
A teacher doubling as a sportswriter. When I'm home (currently teaching in NC since March '11), I sit in Section 328. I saw it all. I was there when you could hear someone fart in 326 and I was there with tears in my eyes when the lights dropped before Game 1 of the Finals. I love this team as much as life itself, but I won't feed you bull. All opinions are my own.