Hutton: Just can’t make jump to Hawks bandwagon
By Mike Hutton 613-0141 or firstname.lastname@example.org July 2, 2013 8:12PM
Chicago Blackhawks Victory Parade And Rally
Updated: August 4, 2013 6:35AM
Is it OK to poke my head out from the darkened room yet?
Has enough time passed for me to talk about my true feelings for hockey?
I tried and I tried and I tried... but I just couldn’t get into the Blackhawks.
I tried watching Game 7 against the Red Wings.
I tried watching various parts of their series against the Kings.
I tried watching them play the Bruins intermittently.
The night they won, the game that some sports scribes have described as the most dramatic hockey comeback ever, I was on the phone with the company that provided me with my router for my wireless hookup. I missed the most memorable 17 seconds in the history of the Blackhawks. I had to turn off the television because I had a hard time understanding the customer service person on the line. His English was shaky.
I was happy, in a detached sort of way, when I switched on the TV and watched the players carry that Lord Stanley trophy around over their heads, acting like a bunch of giddy teenagers at prom, but I was happier I took care of the router problem.
To me, hockey is like soccer on steroids. Lots of puck passing and faceless guys with helmets on chasing each other and occasionally banging into those plexiglass windows with nothing ever really happening. OK, someone rifles a goal in, usually between a couple of guys eating an ice sandwich. Then, the announcer screams, “Goal, goal, goal.” And the fans go crazy.
I felt incredible, indescribable guilt because of my total disconnection from the Hawks’ Stanley Cup run. People in Chicago and Northwest Indiana are crazy about the Hawks. I didn’t realize it until this title. I must have slept through the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup run.
I have friends in the business who cover the Hawks. They are hockey writers because it’s a deep part of their professional DNA. They are hockey writers because they were fans first. Huge fans. Obsessive fans. I have a deep respect for them and what they do. I just don’t get it.
I also have a theory: All of them connected with hockey in some special way as a kid. Their father took them to the rink when they were old enough to know what a puck was. They went to a game. They lived by a pond and skated. Wayne Gretzy gave them his autograph. I missed the hockey connection.
My ambivalence about the sport is a matter of practicality now. Even if I thought I could start to like hockey, I couldn’t really.
I have no room left in my brain for hockey. I watch golf, basketball and football — golf pretty much all the time — and that’s it. I turn on the Golf Channel in November, the dead season, to watch the Big Break. I loved those “Shell Wonderful World of Golf” matches with Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus playing at Olympia Club in San Francisco and Phil Mickelson taking on Payne Stewart.
If I’m not covering a basketball game in the winter, I’m watching one on ESPN. Football is ubiquitous on television. It’s impossible to avoid, though I don’t naturally gravitate toward it like I do golf and basketball.
When I was in grade school, I raced home to watch the Cubs on WGN.
I’d watch every single pitch of whatever was left of the game, which always started at 1:15 then. It didn’t matter how bad or good they were. I loved Wrigley Field and Ivan DeJesus and Many Trillo and Dave Kingman and the ivy-covered outfield walls.
Then, something happened. I started writing about sports, got married, had kids and made decisions about what I was going to stop watching and worrying about. They weren’t conscious decisions — they were just decisions that happened naturally because I didn’t have time to possibly watch everything and learn about every sport.
I rarely watch the Cubs anymore but I reconnect with them in an instant if they get good. I have no problem jumping onto that bandwagon.
Lord Stanley? I’m sorry we couldn’t hook up this year. Maybe sometime later I’ll find a view of hockey that interests me. Keep winning it over and over again, Hawks, and I’ll have to figure it out.