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The Greatest Moment of My Life and I Never Saw It

June 10, 2010

If you read this blog with any regularity, follow me on Twitter or know me in real life, then you know the Chicago Blackhawks are one of the most important things in my life. I will never be able to explain it, but somehow, some way a kid who grew up in a family of non-hockey fans fell in love with the game and 22 years later, the passion still burns strong.

Why I am a hockey fan will always be puzzling to me. My father openly made fun of the sport. No one in my family, except for a long divorced uncle, cared about the game. Yet, the second word I ever uttered, was hockey.

It’s always been one thing that’s been “my thing.” I didn’t have neighborhood friends when I was in my early elementary years. Instead, being a little hockey-crazed boy in Chicagoland, the Hawks were my friends. I would spend my afternoons playing hockey in the second story of my mom’s condo pretending I was a Blackhawk. I don’t remember the cup run the team made in 1992, but I do remember us getting swept the next year. I can never explain how distraught I was at that moment. I was little and I learned a hard truth about life that day…things don’t always go your way.

As I got older, it was still “my thing.” When I moved to the Indy area, I was always greeted with weird looks when I tried to explain that hockey was my favorite sport. It seems that no matter where I go in life or who I am with, I’m the “hockey fan.” While I get joked with about it, especially by some friends that apparently think loving hockey is some sort of mental deficiency, it’s an identifying mark that love. Being a hockey fan is as much a part of me as my name. It’s one of my favorite self-identifiers.

Tonight, like every night the Hawks play, I was living and dying with every shift. Yet, this is new for me. This was a Cup-clinching game. I’ve never been here before as a fan, well not like this. I consider myself a Lightning fan as well, but they aren’t my Hawks. Nothing can really replace or even come close to the love I have for the Blackhawks. When the Hawks surrendered the tying goal late in game six I began to feel sick. During the intermission before OT, I found myself pacing in the middle of a bar and refused to sit down until the period started. I could feel my stomach clenching as though I was going to be sick. I couldn’t stop shaking. Then the period began.

A few minutes in, the Hawks took the puck into the attacking zone…and the picture began to cut out. It got worse. Finally, the picture died. I started worrying. What if I miss the moment I’ve been waiting my entire life for? I was going to be screwed over by of all things, DirecTV. How incredibly fitting that a hockey fan would be deprived of watching a hockey game by DirecTV.

It came back on.

What was on the screen was a large group of men in white sweaters hugging.

I missed it. A guy that has loved a game and a team his whole life, missed the biggest goal scored in his life because some satellites suck at relaying signals.

And while I’m sure a lot of you reading this feel somewhat bad for me, don’t. My thought process when the game returned to the screen was as follows: “Did we score? Holy shit! I missed it! Wait…WE WON!”

It was at this point that a 22 year old man, a college graduate (and an American citizen), a person that should by all accounts be considered an adult, acted completely like a little kid on Christmas. I jumped off my bar stool and into my friend’s arms. I do not care how ridiculous I looked at that moment. It was a moment of pure, unadulterated joy. A moment where I was like a child again, I was doing my own thing and didn’t even stop to consider people were looking at me.

I don’t smile much and I’m quite cynical, but hours later, I’m still smiling. I’m pretty sure my face is going to be stuck this way for quite a while.

In the moments that followed it seemed that every person I’ve ever talked to about hockey, taken to a hockey game or told I was a hockey fan tried to get a hold of me. At the point of writing this I am still checking the messages, texts and tweets sent to me on my phone. There’s something nice about knowing that you’ve left such a mark on people’s lives that they willingly take the time to remember you in moments like that.

As the handshake line went by, the trophies were handed out and Toews picked up the Stanley Cup, I kept jumping up and down. As the Cup got passed from player to player, I felt myself transported to when I was a kid. On the outside I was 22, on the inside I was 5 again. I was genuinely happy.

Then the camera shifted to the booth. It was hard to hear everything over the sounds in the bar, but words weren’t really necessary. There was my boyhood hero, Jeremy Roenick, crying. He then said something that I will never forget. He looked directly into the camera and said to the kids who were upset when he skated off the ice in game 4 of the Final in 1992. It was alright now. Your wait was over. It was as though my hero was talking to me.

He’s right though. It’s over. Regardless if I saw Kane’s game winning goal live or minutes later on a replay, it’s over. Years of hockey fandom, years of self-identification, years of jokes made at my expense, it’s over. My Chicago Blackhawks are the Stanley Cup Champions and it has made all of it completely worth it.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2010 11:00 am

    Great article, Peter, and it’s good you’re smiling even though I’m sure you’re still full of hatred and anger 🙂 After reading your article yesterday I was thinking to my greatest sports moments, neither of which had quite as much passion involved as yours. The Colts Super Bowl win will always be a great moment in my life, as will the Celtics championship in 2008 (the only one of theirs that I was old enough to be aware of). Good times!

  2. SamDub permalink
    June 10, 2010 9:19 pm

    I feel spoiled to have my team win the Cup in my first year as a fan, but I know that there are many people like you for whom this has been a long time coming.

  3. Samantha permalink
    June 11, 2010 11:56 am

    Hey I’m one of your nephew’s friends (jeff’s best friend), and an avid Hawks fan from Chicago as well. Although this is the first year I have followed hockey, I really hope I can be as devoted of a fan as you when I grow up. This article seriously made me almost tear up just remembering the beauty of that final shot by Patrick Kane.

    I understand your pain though, being the oddball of sportsfans. Hockey fans are out there, I promise. Just yesterday I passed a guy here in NC wearing a Hawks jersey and relived the win with him.

    Until this October,
    Sam

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