Game 4, 1992 Stanley Cup Final. Mario Lemieux saw a 10-year-old boy pressed along the glass during the pre-game skate. Lemieux snatch a puck from the ice, lofted it over the glass into the boy’s tiny hands, winked and skated away.
That boy was me, and since that day my passion for hockey never died. When I saw Lemieux circling the Chicago Stadium ice with the Stanley Cup later that night, I hoped one day I would witness a Blackhawk doing the exact same thing.
Never let anyone tell you dreams don’t come true.
The rough stretches, the questionable trades which ran heroes out of town too soon, the edge of the cliff on which the franchise teetered for years, money invested, time spent, heart-shattering losses, watching the hated Red Wings win four Cups … it was all worth it. It will always be worth it. June 9, 2010 is a day only death can take away from me.
People wonder how I can talk this way about a team, a game. “There are more important things in life than sports,” they say, all while updating their Facebook status and planning their entire night around an episode of Jersey Shore. “How can you be so emotional over that stuff?”
With all the uncertainties in life, all the emotions spent on everyday events and questioning of the decisions you make day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute, it’s always guaranteed your team will begin play on the first day of the season at the same time every year. The players may struggle, may disappoint and you’ll even question your loyalty. But no matter what, you’re always given the option to struggle with them or share in their joy. And when you invest yourself hoping for the opportunity to witness something as amazing as Stanley Cup championship, it’s a feeling you’ll remember for the rest of your life. There’s not many things you can say that about.
Patrick Kane scoring just over four minutes into overtime erased 49 years of Blackhawks fans feeling the disappointment of watching another team and another city embrace the Stanley Cup. People poured out into the streets, and hundreds of thousands of fans will rally for the parade tomorrow in downtown Chicago.
The waiting is over, the dream has been realized and the memory is ingrained.
And do you know what the best part is? We’re guaranteed to do this all over again next year.