If you’re even the slightest bit like me, you’re proud to be a Chicagoan. Proud of what had come before, proud to be a part of everything occurring now. Most Chicagoans, moreover, Chicago sports fans weather our storms together – both Mother Nature’s and those produced by the sports teams we so religiously devote our support to. Chicago fans are unwavering, there are no bandwagons in the Chicagoland area – there is only the “L”. Whether that train allows us to disembark at a Championship station or it derails off the platform – we’re all along for the ride. We’re all in it together – all of us for the long haul.
Rewind with me if you will to May 2013. We were stuck in the midst of a tragedy, more so, a catastrophe. Forced to bite our nails and grip our newspapers harder and tighter through our morning commutes than we had in five months. The President’s Trophy winning, record setting, Chicago Blackhawks had just dropped their third straight to the Detroit Red Wings finding themselves on the brink of elimination. Again, if you’re even the slightest bit like me you sometimes look to the sky for answers and had you looked, like me… you too saw it falling. You found yourself poised for another disaster of what should have been, what could have been and what would not be. I.E. another botched fly ball, another Manning dominated second half… another supposed broken thumb. But for once we were wrong – as if any of us would admit our doubts. We wouldn’t discover the difference in the story for another week. It wouldn’t be for another few days until our nails began to grow back and it’d be another month until that fateful Monday night game six that allowed us all, the entire city, to exhale and consequently show up late for work Tuesday morning.
Of all the Chicago teams that have let us down – all the years filled with false hope and confidence – the Chicago Blackhawks return it every time they take the ice. Though I always seem to be expecting more from the exuberant boys off Madison Avenue, the players and the organization sure do make me proud. Proud that like Chicago itself and its native Chicagoan, the Hawks have a backbone beneath their big shoulders. They have a will to rise when they have fallen – they rise to the occasions set before them.
“Chicago is home now.” Jonathan Toews once mentioned to the media in response to a question comparing his thoughts between Chicago and his native Winnipeg. On “NHL’s 36” a couple years ago he alluded to how Chicago sports fans want to see guts, pride and effort – win or lose, that’s all they ask for. To convey our pride on the ice, field, diamond or court. “Captain Serious” sure hit that nail on its head – at least for me. Or maybe you prefer the words of Carl Sandburg, who said it quite well 100 years ago in his 1914 poem,“…they say that you are wicked and I believe them…having answered, I turned once more to those who sneer at this, my city. And I return that sneer and say, COME AND SHOW ME ANOTHER CITY, with lifted heads singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning…”
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My name is Zachary Raderstorf and I, like Carl Sandburg, am a Chicagoan. I bleed black and red, blue and orange and I freeze, like you, for six months out of every year. I try my best every day to hold my big shoulders broad and head high. Chicago is my home. Chicago is my pride. Chicago is my heart. It is my deepest hope that my coverage of our beloved Chicago Blackhawks will only renew or continue to remind you of your pride in Chicago. I hope I don’t let you down!
Happy Holidays and GO BLACKHAWKS!
Follow me on Twitter @ZRaderstorf, @Blackhawk_Up.