Thursday, June 10, 2010

An open letter of thank you to the Blackhawks team & organization

Dear Blackhawks players and to the entire Blackhawks organization:

As an athlete, you grow up dreaming of the Big Win - the game-winner that both makes you the hero and also brings your team great acclaim.

Patrick Kane got that moment last night, but the Chicago Blackhawks made it there as a team, and in doing so, not only made history for themselves, but brought joy and ecstasy and relief to a sports-mad city which has known the bitter taste of defeat for far too many years.

A small percentage of athletes ever get to go pro. And an even smaller, rare and elite group, ever get the chance to play in those final round games, the winner-take-all ones, that lifts up not only their team, but their city, and maybe - such as for the Olympics - their entire country upon their shoulders and celebrates with abandon.

In our favorite athletes, we, the fans, see a little bit of ourselves: our youthful dreams when we passed around a ball or puck, and motivated ourselves with that idea of the Big Win. Perhaps that is why rooting for a major sports team lifts us to such highs and lows in the course of a season; we can identify.

As Chicagoans, aside from the 1990s Bulls and a brief shining moment for the White Sox in 2005, the record has been remarkably dry as far as championship teams go, considering just how big sports are here. The city has many of the oldest sports teams in the U.S., and yet the grand prize trophies won between them in 475 years' worth of collective sports history can be counted on less than a full set of fingers and toes: Stanley Cups: 4. Super Bowl: 1. World Series: 5 (Cubs 2, White Sox 3). MLS: 1. NBA: 6. That's 17 major championships. It rises to 25 if you add the Bears' NFL championships (8) prior to the current Super Bowl (post-combined-AFL/NFL) format.

Which makes the Stanley Cup win last night all the sweeter.

And so we must say thanks.

Thank you, 2009-2010 Chicago Blackhawks, for bringing home to Chicago the hardest and most beautiful trophy in all of sports to achieve, the Stanley Cup. Your city and your fans love you. You deserve it for all your hard work and teamwork. You are forever etched on Chicago and hockey history.

Thank you to every single player on the team, for giving this season your all, and occasionally, your body parts. Hockey players are the definition of toughness and perseverence.

Thank you for every single game of the season: for the highs and lows, the games of wild joy, and even the games that ended in defeat; the accomplishments earned, the records broken, and trailblazing marks established. It was a joyride beyond compare, especially getting to see you  hoist the Stanley Cup.

Thank you to every single player on the team for showing us all what the definition of "team" is. It is said that in sports, you win as a team and you lose as a team. Not a single one among you has ever hesitated to give credit or due to another player on the team; and even those players who ended up riding the bench or were healthy scratches on any given night helped motivate their teammates.

Thank you, team Captain Jonathan Toews, for leading by example. You are a worthy sports hero for kids and adults everywhere to look up to, and hope to follow in your footsteps.

Thank you, Duncan Keith, for not only being the ultimate face (and teeth) of what price hockey players will pay for team success, but you and Brent Seabrook are truly a force to be reckoned with on defense.

Thank you, Marian Hossa, for choosing Chicago. Third time was the charm, and your contributions all across the ice simply are not sung nearly loudly enough.

Thank you, Antti Niemi, for saying "no-no" so many times, especially when it mattered most, and for making your mark in NHL history as the first Finnish goalie to get his name on the Cup. Sisu!

Thank you, Patrick Kane, for doing what you like to do best, and not only having a great season but getting that game-winning-goal. Viva la mullet!

Thank you, Brent Sopel, for putting your body on the line selflessly and repeatedly, the picture of dedication for the team's success.

Thank you, Dave Bolland and Brian Campbell, for coming back from huge injuries, and adding so much to its success not only for your skills but your inspiration.

Thank you, Dustin Byfuglien, for stepping up in the post season and becoming a force to be reckoned with, and for being our fullback - your hits are a thing of beauty.

Thank you to every single Blackhawk for showing up, playing hard, and showing us how much fun it can be to play as a team. We've thought you were the best all along - and now everybody else knows you are, too.

Thank you to the players for being not only so accessible but also so clearly grateful to your fans. You know how much we love you, but it's clear that you all love us right back.

Thank you, Coach Quenneville, for being the strong hand on the rudder to steer this team to success. You and your 'stache have marked your place in Chicago sports history. Thank you to you and your coaching staff and all of the Blackhawks staff for crafting this team into what it is today.

Thank you, Dale Tallon, for your years of being here and making the choices for players that have created the face of the Blackhawks that we know and love today. Wishing you the very pinnacle of success to you in Jacksonville.

Most of all, thank you, Rocky Wirtz, for giving the gift of the Chicago Blackhawks back to the city of Chicago and its fans. It seems unreal that it was only a few short years ago that the United Center was but a shadow of the packed Madhouse that it is today, and that the idea of 100+ consecutive sellouts and a Stanley Cup were but a dream. Like the scoreboard video says, "Hockey never left Chicago, but it certainly has returned."


Thank you, Blackhawks. 

Thanks for the memories.

2 comments:

  1. And thank you Cristobal Huet for doing your best, but when you knew you were faltering, you set your pride aside and helped Niemi achieve... for the TEAM. You won more than you lost, and you made some freaking excellent saves in the first half of the season. Thanks for taking us halfway, and then handing off to Niemi to take us the rest of the way.

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  2. Thank you for writing such a wonderful thank you. Spot on!

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