A pretty menacing storm ripped through the south burbs on Monday night just before game 6 of the NHL finals. It was a black line of clouds and it was hauling ass. The whole thing was over in about a half hour, but the winds were so strong that there were trees down all over the place and about half the neighborhood was without power. I was safe because my house is on the original grid in town and is damn near bulletproof. I never lose power. My brother on the south side of the tracks said his was out until about 2 am. The MIL east of Oak Park lost power until 4pm the next day. I happened to be going out to pick up a pizza at 6:45 while the power was out all over the place and 20 minutes to puck drop. The mobilization of people in Blackhawks jerseys and t-shirts scrambling to find a working t.v. was hilarious.
A friend from college was passing through town with her dad from Venezuela. He spoke about as much English as I speak Spanish, which isn't a lot since I haven't worked with any Mexicans in almost 10 years and have since used that part of my brain to store baseball statistics. Our friend had to translate the more important stuff. Since we had touristas in town, we got a deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati's. We sat down to watch game 6.
At the beginning of the game, her dad Oliver had to ask if they were on ice. He had no clue. It seems there is no word in Spanish for puck, but I was as clear as possible that it wasn't a pelota. I explained power plays through our translator somewhere in the middle of the game. He was noticeably impressed by Shaw playing with blood leaking through the stitches in his face. By the end of the game he was standing in front of the tv and cheered right along with us when they tied it up. He couldn't believe it when they took the lead those 17 seconds later. His daughter had wanted to go back to their hotel early in the third but reluctantly waited for the end of the game. And then waited again as we enjoyed the neighborhood fireworks show when the championship was clinched. They made their way past Teehan's and J.W. Holtsein's on the way to the hotel and saw all the revelers there. I guess he turned the tv on back in their room and watched the post-game celebration for about an hour despite the language barrier. He was hooked.
Yesterday we took them downtown to the aquarium, the bean, the spitty face fountain, all that good shit. There was Hawks gear everywhere. After they freshened up a bit, we took them to Portillo's so they could have the other Chicago staple, the beef sandwich. I sent him on his way with a rojo Hossa shirsey with the big Indian on it. He loved it. I wondered if any South American cable providers show NHL games.
My brother stopped by with his chainsaw after work yesterday between the downtown field trip and dinner. I had some dead branches blown off a maple between my garage and power lines that I was worried about having to shimmy up and cut down not two days before. The wind blew them clear of the garage, bounced them off the power lines and into the yard clear of anything that could have broke. Thanks storm. He was sleepy when he went to work and wore one of his non-work White Sox shirts that day by accident. He was groggy like a lot of us not from watching the game, but rather from having to go outside and put more gas in the generator every 2 hours to keep his fridge cold. He played some pond hockey growing up, but never got on the Hawks bandwagon this year like the rest of us. On break a work buddy brought up the Hawks. He admitted that he didn't watch and was happy that they won, but didn't really care about the Hawks. His buddy said, "yeah, me too. I just brought it up because that is all anyone is talking about."
Then on his way home a lady at the gas station asked him if he was wearing the wrong shirt. Again he says he doesn't really care about the Hawks and she also says yeah, me either. She stupidly asked if he was a Sox fan. "Yeah I like the Sox, they're in last place and I'm still wearing this!"
Two incidents where people feel like they had to talk hockey to fit in and then came clean when he was honest about it makes me chuckle a bit. I'd say half of those people wearing stuff downtown yesterday were in the same boat, just wanting to be a part of something bigger.
I myself am a pretty casual fan of hockey. I think it really is the best sport to see live or at least right up there with baseball anyway, but at the same time I couldn't name the entire third line or anything like that. I've only been to about 5 games my whole life, but I was on board this season pretty early. They were just playing at such a high level. Crisp passing, the fastest players on the ice- It was a fun watch all season. While they lack the bruising thug type guy that I generally appreciate(hawks had the fewest hits in the league this year, I believe) the whole league has gone away from that and that's ok. The Chicago Blackhawks were the best team in the NHL this year and they absolutely earned the Stanley Cup. I will watch almost anything if it is done with great skill and precision, and this years Champs certainly did that.
I really enjoyed hockey this season, surprising after watching the NHL do some fan murdering with the long lock out and the fact that there almost wasn't a season. So thank you Blackhawks. Thanks for distracting me from my normal distraction of White Sox baseball this year which as we all know has been garbage.
Congratulations Champs. Go Hawks.