No Blackhawk fan will ever forget where they were June 24th, 2013...the night the Blackhawks captured their second Stanley Cup Championship in four seasons.
Maybe you were one of the fortunate souls at the Garden in Boston, like my 670 The Score compatriots Dan McNeil and Matt Spiegel. Perhaps you were arm and arm with your best friend or significant other, crammed into some sweaty bar. You could be like me and prefer the solitude of your couch when games become this meaningful.
Me? I was in Boston...seven miles from the Garden, hunkered down in the news studio of our sister station, 98.5 The Sports Hub preparing for my postgame show. I had spent the last week bouncing between Boston and Chicago, hosting until 1am, then going to work at 6am. Tired had come and gone. I had advanced to zombie mode. Work, sleep, eat, work, sleep, eat. Believe it or not, it's days and weeks like these that I dreamed of when I decided to make broadcasting my career.
So there I was...alone, surrounded by Bruins fans, and hoping for a celebratory radio show, and not a Game Seven preview.
To be perfectly honest, I never really felt like the Hawks would lose Game Six. I have this weird knack with my sports gut (not to be confused with my ample beer gut). My sports gut had told me "win" all day long. There was no pacing or nervous walks like there were in the Detroit series. I took a great nap, had an awesome dinner with my cousin Susan, and took my time getting to the studios.
Then Milan Lucic scored in the 3rd. The Bruins went up 2-1, and my stomach sank. My sports gut was queasy...and apparently an idiot. As I mentally prepared for the "Trade Crawford / fire Quenneville / trade for Luongo" postgame show, I found myself sinking in to a deep funk.
"Here I am in this damn studio, completely alone. It's hot in here and I don't want to stay up and deal with a loss tonight. It wasn't supposed to go this way."
Cue Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland. It only took 17 seconds for the Hawks to take the lead. The last minute plus ticked away like molasses. By the time the horn sounded and I had realized what had happened, I had to get on the air.
"Hello, Herb? Can you hear me? Herb? HERB!"
Something was wrong with our ISDN unit. I could hear them, but they couldn't hear me, and we had a problem. There were no engineers to help me troubleshoot in this foreign station. I didn't even know their names or phone numbers.
We did the first segment of the show on my cell phone. I got a chance to interview Michael Frolik and Brent Seabrook, all while running around trying to fix the line. I think I was guilty of two "Talk about" questions...one of my broadcasting pet peeves. "Brent, talk about what Corey Crawford has meant to this team." Grrr...I suck.
After a commercial break, a few F-bombs, and the assistance of the Score producers and the Sports Hub hosts, we got the ISDN to work and we were up and running. I think I was out of breath when I had the chance to interview John McDonough. I haven't heard the tape. I'm not sure I want to.
When all was said and done, Joe Ostrowski and I had talked to McDonough, Frolik, Seabrook, Nick Leddy, Brandon Saad and Rocky Wirtz.
As I was on the air, the texts from home started pouring in, including this one from my wife, Hope : "(My daughter) said to the radio when she heard your voice : 'Daddy, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup."
The girl who was born after overtime of Game 3 of the 2010 West Final vs San Jose loves hockey...just like her mom and dad, who met and fell in love because of this beautiful game.
What a night. Every bit as special as the 2010 Cup title.
Tuesday night, after landing from Logan and devouring some boneless wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, I sat down and watched the 3rd period and the celebration...like a fan.
That's when it sunk in for me.
A few post game moments stand out. Corey Crawford and his father exchanging hugs and congratulations, then sharing tears was one of the more beautiful and pure things I've seen in a long time. Patrick Kane thanked the Hawks for sticking with him through his well publicized misadventures and embarrassments. Kane isn't usually the type to show his softer side. Frankly, it was nice to see. How about Andrew Shaw's memorable Cup hoist? An explosion of F-bombs, blood, and stitches. A Chicago sports fan's dream and as tough a kid as you'll find in the NHL.
Then, of course, there was the funniest moment of the season...Jonathan Toews' moonwalk. Captain Serious finally lets loose. He deserved his moment. He was excellent throughout the playoffs. Screw goals. He was too busy shutting down every damn line he defended.
My favorite moment, though, happens every year. I always smile when I see veteran players lift the Cup for the first time. After Toews took the Cup from Gary Bettman, he handed it to Michael Handzus. The center played the series with a broken wrist and a sprained MCL. This was his 14th NHL season, and his first time touching the Cup. Jamal Mayers, in his 15th season, finally won his first championship. It took Michal Rozsival 12 seasons to lift Lord Stanley.
Every championship season is filled with little snapshot memories. This year is no different. What a great and unexpected ride it was.
Thanks to everyone who read this blog, listened to my shows, and interacted with me on Twitter throughout the season. The feedback and support has been overwhelming. Thank you for trusting me as one of your hockey people. It means the world to me, and it's a dream come true.
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Filed under: andrew shaw, Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Brandon Bollig, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Sports, danny mac show, dave bolland, duncan keith, hockey, Jamal mayers, jay zawaski, joel quenneville, johnny oduya, jonathan toews, Marcus Kruger, marian hossa, michael frolik, Michael Handzus, michal rozsival, NHL, nhl playoffs, nick leddy, Patrick Kane, sports, stanley cup, Stanley Cup Champions, Stanley Cup Final, stanley cup finals, viktor stalberg, wscr