Diehard Blackhawks fans (from left) Daniel Piasecki, Brad Piasecki and Josh Davich pose before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston. | Photo provided~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 22, 2013 4:58PM
There are Chicago Blackhawks fans. There are bandwagon Blackhawks fans. And then there are diehard Blackhawks fanatics like Brad Piasecki and my son, Josh.
As I write this column, while watching Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins, the two of them are in Boston watching from the stands.
Brad and Josh, friends since childhood and season-ticket holders for many years, flew there to watch Games 3 and 4 while proudly sporting their favorite Hawks jerseys and green caps. Even if it meant being called all kinds of names by Bruins fans.
Brad and Josh have traveled to several other enemy stadiums through the years to cheer on their beloved Hawks, from St. Louis to Detroit to California. On Saturday night, they’ll be back in their usual United Center seats for Game 5, in the nose-bleed section, yelling from a mile away to the hockey teams below and the hockey gods above.
Along with their motley crew of friends, including Brad’s younger brother, Dan, they’ve been attending games since the old Chicago Stadium days, and since the Hawks were, quite simply, a bad team. Empty seats back then were as common as empty playoff promises.
On the upside of those dark times, the boys, well, men (they’re both 29) routinely nabbed better seats by slyly sneaking down after the first period. They have had an unspoken wink-and-nod agreement with the ushers, the parking attendants, and even the Hawks’ equipment manager, Troy, who would toss them broken hockey sticks from time to time.
After Wednesday night’s overtime game, when the Hawks tied the series with a 6-5 win, I received a late-night text from Josh from Boston: “It was all worth it.”
The only reason I care if the Hawks win the Cup again is for these kinds of, truly, live-or-die fans who wouldn’t recognize a bandwagon if it was pulled around the ice by a Zamboni.
First off, where have you been since 2010? Just kidding.
As a lukewarm fan of the Chicago Blackhawks since my childhood days — Makita, Hull, and Magnuson were my heroes — I can see why other so-called “fans” such as me are now the BIGGEST BLACKHAWKS FANS ON THE PLANET these days, especially after the team returned to the Stanley Cup Final after winning it all in 2010.
But come on, although it’s great to cheer for the home team and all that, and contribute to the revenue stream for professional hockey and the Hawks, please stop pretending you’ve been a fan since those Stan Mikita/Bobby Hull days, or even those Dennis Savard/Ed Belfour days.
It’s one thing to be a bandwagon fan who jumps on the playoff-bound bus to mingle with the die-hard Hawks fans as their team battles into the final. Fine, live it up and join the party. But don’t act like you’ve been a rabid supporter through all those dark years, when nabbing a good seat at the U.C. was as easy as sneaking down after the first period.
Don’t insult them by pretending you’re one of them. They know better. And so do the rest of us. Or, as one long-time Hawks fan suggested, “Just ask them to pronounce Toews’ last name.”
Playoff beards, ladies?
So ladies, with the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final after a long playoff run, what has been the female equivalent of growing a “playoff beard” as male fans (and players) do? I asked around and here is a sampling of the responses.
“If it were winter we would refuse to shave our legs. Since it’s not, we give up stuff like washing our lucky shirts!” replied Teresa C.
“Not wearing a bra,” replied Joan R.
“Not laundering my vintage Hawks jersey until we win the Stanley Cup,” said Gloria R.
Or as one male Hawks fan replied: “My girlfriend grew out her armpit hair. But she shaved it when the Hawks were down 3-1 to the Red Wings. It worked perfectly.”
Hockey as religion
In his hilarious, thought-provoking and sexually graphic 2012 book, “Tough Sh*t” (which I will review in a future column), filmmaker Kevin Smith writes lovingly about the sport of hockey and his hero, Wayne Gretzky.
“Because what’s not to connect with about the culture of hockey?” Smith asks.
“1) In hockey, you get to watch sixty minutes of the most in-shape athletes on the planet rocket across the surface of a giant (expletive) diamond.”
“2) People literally walk on water in hockey. Granted, the water is frozen, but still. The last guy to popularize water-walking got a religion built around him. (That guy was Rocket Richard; the religion is the Montreal Canadians.)”
“3) More so than even wrestling, hockey is like a comic book come to life. You’ve got heroes! Villains! Colorful uniforms! Masks! And show-stopping battles!”
Later, Smith writes, “The story of Wayne David Gretzky reads like the Great Canadian Novel. It was a simple lesson the boy’s father taught him, the first rule of hockey, so far as Walter Gretzky was concerned: ‘Don’t go where the puck’s been; go where it’s gonna be.’”
This can be a life-long mantra for all of us, as well as another famous quote attributed to The Great One: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”
Top shelf entertainment
On this week’s Casual Fridays radio show, we’ll be talking hockey on a regular segment we call “Hawk Talk” with Brad Piasecki and, hopefully, my son, Josh, too. Feel free to call in with your questions, comments, or your own personal Hawks fan story.
The show airs from noon to 1 p.m. on WLPR, 89.1-FM, streaming online at www.lakeshorepublicmedia.org, and it’s re-aired at 11 p.m. Call in at 769-9577.
Hey, young professionals
On Tuesday, I will be speaking to the Young Leaders United group about networking tips, ideas and resources for the young professional. The program is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Indiana Beverage, 2850 Barley Road in Valpo.
To register or for more info, visit www.unitedwaypc.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=5 or contact MacKenna at 464-3583 or email@example.com. Hope to see you there.
Connect with Jerry via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org, voice mail, at 713-7237, or Facebook, Twitter, and his blog, at jerrydavich.wordpress.com.