Feature article by Ros Dumlao of BleacherReport.
Richard Nixon resigned the day after my brother-in-law was born. It was an eventful week for my brother-in-law’s parents.
And the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup the day after my nephew was born, the day after I officially became an aunt.
Yes, I watched the game from a hospital in downtown Chicago. It wasn’t the most ideal setting, but at least I saw it. Plus, I got a great view of the city rejoicing once Patrick Kane scored the winning goal.
It was the first time I experienced the city burst into excitement for a Chicago sports team since the Bulls’ last NBA championship win in 1998. (Sorry White Soxs fans, I know I might get some flare-ups here, but I don’t think the White Soxs’ 2005 World Series captured the same celebration level as the Bulls or Blackhawks).
The city of Chicago got a treat when their beloved Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961.
That was quite a tasty treat for long-time Blackhawks fans (who can say they witnessed the end of the longest NHL championship drought). But it was also a treat for the sports city, whose sports teams are better known for breaking hearts or teasing with their hopes.
The Hawks put an end to the misery as they restored the hearts of many in the city and brought the city together in unexpected ways.
Monday night, the Hawks and the Stanley Cup appeared at the Tonight Show, following its latest surprise trip to Wrigley Field.
The celebration doesn’t seem to end anytime soon, and Chicago might soon knock the lights out of Las Vegas and be dubbed the city that never sleeps.
#5: Cubs and White Sox Unite
Though it only lasted a moment, the North and South Sides of Chicago signed a peace treaty for the first time in history.
Not literally, but that was the mood of baseball fans at Wrigley Field when the Blackhawks brought the Cup to Game Three of the Crosstown Classic between the Cubs and White Soxs.
Who knew that one city’s champion could unite one of the greatest rivalries in MLB baseball?
For once, the Cubbie blue and White Sox black posed together on the pitcher’s mound, along with the red-garbed Hawks, smiling and sincerely looking happy.
For once, Cubs and White Soxs fans were cheering for the same reason, as the Hawks did an encore victory lap, this time on grass inside the field
Hawks’ team President John McDonough threw the first pitch to Canadian Cubs pitcher Ryan Demptser. Being from Canada, you’d think Demptser would be a Maple Leaf or Candadien fan, but he claims he is a Hawks fan.
But once that first pitch was caught, the game went on, and the rivalry rekindled.
#4: Support from Legends and Stars
he Michael Jordan statue outside the United Center, where the Blackhawks and Bulls share their home games, sported a No. 19 Jonathan Toews jersey.
Whomever thought of decorating the MJ statue with the Hawks’ team captain’s jersey made a smart move. Not only was it a memorable image, but it also signified the unity of the sports teams throughout Chicago as they supported one another.
Even better, His Airness was actually present at Game Five wearing a Jonathan Toews jersey. Though it would’ve been a more touching sight to see him in his No. 23 jersey, the sight of the most famous Chicago sports legend back at the UC, rooting for his home team was good enough.
Former Bulls-player Charles Oakley and AHL Wolves player Chris Chelios were also spotted at the same game that night.
The Hawks also attracted celebrity stars like Chicago’s version of Jack Nicholas, Vince Vaughn, as well as Michelle Pfeiffer, her husband David E. Kelley, and director Peter Billingsley.
These are home-town stars who don’t reside in Chicago but return to support their city because they’re happy about where they came from. Their return reinvigorates Chicago pride.
#3: Chicago bears Want a Bowl, But Don’t Mind the Cup
Following the Hawks victory, the Bears placed an ad in the Chicago Tribune reading: “Congratulations Blackhawks on winning the Cup. We’ll look for the Bowl to match. From your friends at the Chicago Bears.”
Tight end Greg Olsen is claimed to be the biggest Hawks fan on the Bears, and he already had tickets for Game Seven if the Hawks were to play back at the UC.
But cornerback Charles Tillaman and his wife hopped on a plane to Philadelphia right after his Wednesday practice to catch Game Six. They probably were the closest ones from Chicago to witness Patrick Kane score the winning goal as they sat right behind the Flyer’s goalie.
Punter Brad Maynard allowed his two oldest children (seven and nine) to stay up late and watch the entire game. I remember how difficult it was to persuade my Dad to let me watch the entire Bulls championship series when I was younger.
The Bears made their own run for a championship title when they went to the Super Bowl in 2006. They’ve experienced the city’s atmosphere and excitement during a championship run. They also understand the importance of support from within the city, and they wanted to show how they can share that feeling.
#2: Chicago Gets Decked Out Like It’s Christmas
Almost every corner of downtown Chicago, and even the far ends of the city, were decorated with Blackhawks gear.
The iconic lions outside the Art Institute of Chicago wore Hawks helmets; the city skyline brightened with red-cad lights; skyscrapers used their window lights to draw out images like the Stanley Cup and the Blackhawks logo; sports bars and mechanic shops hung banners and flags; even the employees at the Jewel Osco grocery store near my house wore Blackhawks shirts.
Chicago might have gone overboard with the decorating (and the celebrating), but the city had the Stanley Cup in mind, and the support was evident throughout the entire city.
Former governor Rod Blagojevich’s trial would’ve been the bigger headline, but even Blago couldn’t steal the show from the Hawks.
The city managed to put even politics aside, for the time being.
#1: All Are Welcome to Jump on the Blackhawks Bandwagon
Whether or not you’re an old or new Blackhawks fan, or just caught the fever, all were welcome to get into the hype. It really didn’t matter who you were, if you’re a Cubs or White Soxs fan, or if you’re a Fighting Illini or a Michigan Wolverine.
It’s all good – as long as you’re cheering and being happy for the same team.