Sunday, May 03, 2009
The boy has taken to wandering down for dinner in his housecoat, belt tied snugly, hood up, shading his eyes. He sits at the table and begins to pull out of his pockets numerous objects, placing them beside his supper, which he has taken to ignoring these days. He takes out a little rubber dolphin. He takes out a hard plastic white turtle that lights up when you press its shell. He takes out a worm ball. The worm ball is full of little plastic earthworms and is a pattern of blue and clear squares. Lastly he takes out between one to a half dozen dinky cars.
He's a Secret Spy and every night he has a mission. These are the tools of his trade.
The dolphin is to sniff things out.
The turtle is to see because all of his missions are at night.
The car or cars are for him to drive fast.
The wormball (and here he holds it out so the worms bulge out into a clear pocket) is to SCARE YOU.
He's nothing if not prepared.
Growing up a Chicago fan I really had very little to cheer for come the spring. For the first decade where I really began to watch hockey the Stanley Cup was won by the Flyers twice and then by the Habs and the Islanders four times each. I liked none of these teams and so I was reduced to cheering against them, and in a couple of cases when they played each other, cheering for a calamity like an earthquake to swallow the arena whole.
No such luck.
This changed when the Oilers came along. I loved the way they played and I loved the club and while I would not cheer for them to beat Chicago I could readily hope for them once the Hawks were knocked out, even when it was at the hands of the Gretzkys. And when at the beginning of the 90s the Oilers fell back it just so happened that this coincided with Chicago's rise under Mike Keenan. It was shortlived as Pulford slipped the knife into him but for a couple of years the Hawks were serious contenders. Once Keenan was gone the decline in Chicago started and of course we all knew what happened to the Oilers.
So I was reduced to cheering for ideas or individuals in May and June. When the Rangers won I cheered because of Steve Larmer and all of the ex Oilers and because of 1940.
I cheered for the Wings to end their drought and for Yzerman and Shanahan. I cheered for Sakic and Foote and Forberg, terrific players all, and for Nieuwendyk and Bourque and Belfour and Chelios - I was always happy to see ex Hawks lift the Cup or for the greats to do so as well.
And in recent years I have always found some small comfort in the ritual of raising the Cup. Brad Richards and Dave Andreychuk in 2004. Todd Marchant and Teemu Selanne in 2007. Dan Cleary last season.
But this spring has really captured my imagination. I look around and with the exception of the Ducks and the Canes (in the sixteen to twenty team Pat McLean NHL there are no teams other then Ottawa that have entered the league in any way after 1979 - I would be a merciless overlord) I would probably be reasonably cool with almost any squad winning this spring.
I respect the Wings and their quality and I would love to see Hossa win it.
The Bruins have turned it around for their long suffering fans and I like youngsters Kessel and Lucic not to mention Thomas and Chara, Bergeron and Ryder, as well as longtime favourite Andrew Ference.
The Caps play such a terrific style and with such enthusiasm that its difficult not to cheer them on.
The Pens have a terrific and interesting history and Crosby and Malkin carry on the tradition of Lemieux and Jagr. As well there are fine veterans like Bill Guerin and Hal Gill to hope for.
And here you can tell the difference between many Oiler fans and myself. With the Oilers out of it I can even find a small place in my heart to hope for the Canucks and their poor fans. A difficult team to like when they are skating against the Oilers their present incarnation is also one that is easy to respect. They play a hardnosed and aggressive style epitomized by guys like Willie Mitchell, Ryan Kesler and the veteran Ohlund. It would be nice if the Oilers could play with a little bit of that sand.
At the end of the day though I am hoping for the old team to do well. If Chicago wins the Cup it will be bittersweet for me because of what Bill Wirtz and Bob Pulford did to this franchise and its fans. I turned my back on them and I don't regret it.
But I attended a game at the old Stadium and I know the history of this storied (and starcrossed) franchise and the sports fans of Chicago have suffered through long droughts (and awful ownership) in nearly all of the major sports. If the young Hawks manage to do something that hasn't been done since Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull were in Toews and Kane's skates then I'll certainly raise a glass to them, regardless.
So lets go you Hawks. For old times sake.
Posted by Black Dog at 4:00 PM