There has been widespread speculation about my exact whereabouts during Game 6 of The Stanley Cup Finals. So get out your betting slips and let’s see who guessed right.
I’ll need to start out by explaining that I am NOT superstitious. At all. Except for this one little thing: If I notice a losing tendency for a sports team I am rooting for, I will no longer watch that team play. It’s been proven. In 1992, the Penguins had a grueling series against the Rangers. At one point in the series, a pattern developed, whereas the Rangers would score every time I turned on a game. If I turned away, the Penguins would score while I wasn’t watching. But AS SOON as I turned the game back on to discover they had scored, the Rangers would get a goal right back. I finished that series by not watching at all; the penguins won in 6 games, then went on to win their second straight title.
Fast forward to 2010. Now, I cannot claim to be a huge Chicago Blackhawk fan. While my near-30 years in Pittsburgh did nothing to dissuade me from my love of the Cubs, it did instill I an affection in me for Mario Lemieux and the Penguins. That love has faded some since moving back to Illinois, but that is still where my allegiance lies. I CAN, however, lay claim to being related to the BEST family in the Midwest, and THEY are ginormous Blackhawk fans. SO I found myself rooting for THEM rooting for the Blackhawks.
You’re with me, right? Ok, good.
Enter The Stanley Cup Finals. Chicago vs Phailadelphia for all the marbles. Cheesesteak vs Stuffed Pizza. Rocky Balboa vs Rocky Wirtz. The stuff of legends. Game One took place during my nephew’s graduation party, and Game Two took place during an epic Dutch Blitz Tournament between my niece, nephew, brother and I. There was Playoff intensity. Anyway, I didn’t see a single minute of either game. Result: 2 wins, ‘Hawks up 2-0.
Game Three sees me head to Lombard for a play date with my wrestling partner Jimmy; during intermissions we watched the hockey game. Heartbreaking, overtime loss. Now it’s 2-1 ‘Hawks. Game Four I watch from home. The ‘Hawks have a tough time getting started, and an early 3rd period goal gives the Phailers a 4-1 lead. It is only now that I can’t take anymore, and I turn the game off. Thanks to my new-found Twitter fixation, I watch as the Blackhawks mount a furious comeback. “See” a plead on Facebook, “I turn off the game, and now they’re gonna win!” But alas, an empty netter (forgive them Al Iafrate) evens up the series at 2 games apiece. And I know, if I had reacted just 5 minutes sooner, I could have given the ‘Hawks enough time to complete the comeback.
So Game Five is a simple decision. I can’t watch it. I WON’T watch it. I intentionally didn’t bake pies that day, so that I would have nothing to take with me to my adoptive family’s Lombard compound, thereby being unable to show my face. Anyone recall the outcome of that one? Yeah! The Blackhawks blow the game open with a 3-goal first period, and they’re ONE WIN AWAY! I’ve already made plans to take a macrame class during game Six…
Wednesday, June 9. Game Six. Seriously, the city is electric. Everyone who is anyone has already staked out a bar stool/corner booth/barca lounger for the big game. Wellllll, almost everyone. I am undaunted. Mind you, I’m as nervous as everyone else in town. But I’m nervous about breaking down and watching the game, not because I can’t wait to see it. I learn that most of Lombard will be viewing the game from, what would be to the rest of us, Joe Kennedy’s house; all the Kennedy’s will be there. Since I’m kinda like the Maria Shriver of the bunch, sans glamor, I’ve been invited as well. But, of course, I can’t go. But here’s the thing.
I want to see my cousins win the Cup. I HAVE to see my cousins win the Cup! So I secretly (to me, anyway) arrange with my cousin-in-law-once-removed, on my mother’s brother’s side, to be there at the end of the game if it looks like the clinching win is imminent. It’s not. At the start of the 3rd period, the Blackhawks cling to a 3-2 lead. I decide I’m going for it. I finish the last of my perfectly grilled cheese, and point the car toward Lombard. I listen to the game wind down, watching the time and wondering if I’ll make it to the compound before time expires! I’m sweating; John Weideman is screaming. I turn off Roosevelt and fly up Main Street as fast as 30mph will take me…And Phailly scores 😦
I drive by the house to make sure I can find the right one, then I go park at Dairy Queen. The last 3 minutes of regulation go by without a change in the score. Overtime. I hate overtime. Not as much as I hate shootouts, but it’s a different kind of hate. I can’t take this. What to do. DUH!! I’m at Dairy Queen!! I get a Blizzard! I contemplate my strategy as cold vanilla goodness mixes with luscious chunks of pie crust and fresh ripe bananas on my palate. Where was I..Oh, right. Overrrrrtime. The “Hello NNNNewman” of the sports world.
No. I’m NOT about to wrap it up. Because there’s a complication. You see, my cousin’s family had a church function tonight, and can’t make it home in time for the start of the game. So they use that there TiVo device, and will watch the game, in its entirety, when they get to The Compound. No big deal. WRONG! I don’t know if they’re caught up to real-time yet. So for the whole drive, I’m thinking that if I waltz in there AFTER the game, but they haven’t GOTTEN to the end of the game, and they KNOW I won’t watch the game, then I know the game is already over, and we have the Cup! Any chance I may be over thinking this? At all?
As overtime is about to start, I circle the house. Twice! I don’t know what to do. I could go inside, but then I’d feel like an idiot, because I’m going to sit in another room, or on the porch, or in the garage. Anywhere that doesn’t afford me a view of the game! OH!!! I forgot this part! As I’m driving to Lombard, I am actually looking away from any and all establishments that MIGHT have tv’s inside, so that if I accidently catch a millisecond glimpse of a tv screen from the road, I can’t be misconstrued as having watched any of the game!
This is proof enough to have me put away.
My decision, as overtime starts, is to go home. No, not yet. Yes, I’m going home…No, I’m not. The only reason I care about this game is because I want to watch the people inside that house celebrate if the Blackhawks score in overtime. So I park the car at the end of the street. And I wait and listen. 4 minutes in OT, Kaner does it. They aren’t quite sure on the radio, but he does it. Weideman is still trying to figure out happened as I start heading up the street. I pull up to the house and get out of the car. And there’s screaming. All around me! It seems like every house on the block is going nuts.
I follow the Stanley Cup into the house. (Once again, I won’t say how it ended up at this party) For the first few minutes, and avoid detection and just watch. People are hugging, high-fiving, dancing, singing that stupid song. Others are still on the floor. Laughing, crying, smiling, even kind of dazed. And this is why I’m here. This is why I drove here through a blizzard (DQ, remember?). This is why I didn’t want to go home. A year after watching MY team win the Stanley Cup, by myself, I get to watch MY FAMILY’S team win the Stanley Cup!
And man! Was it glorious!
July 27,2010 Sometimes, cheering for the fans is more fun than cheering for the team: Cousins Darcy and Nina 🙂