Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fan responses: Favorite hockey moments of 2010

Having a few Blackhawks items to give away, I decided to run a bit of a contest for giving away one of the best items, a lovely T-shirt which was given away at one of the games in December:

The subject of the contest was "Favorite hockey moment of 2010". There's naturally a lot of Blackhawks moments in here, as I have a lot of Blackhawks followers, but they're not the only team represented.

The entries I received are listed below after my own favorite memory. They're listed in the order I received them. Congratulations, James - you're the winner; hope you enjoy showing off your hockey pride in Ireland!

* * *

I had to think about what was my own favorite hockey moment of 2010, because there's been so many to choose from. Even though the U.S. didn't win gold, watching their first game where they beat Canada was pretty good, proof that U.S. hockey has come pretty far. Seeing the incredible national pride that filled the arena when the Canadians won was spectacular. (Yes, I always have multiple moments watching the Olympics where I well up in tears of awe at the shows of national pride.) Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final was probably the most incredible moment I've had watching sports. Patrick Kane's game-saving goal in game 5 of the Nashville series followed by Marian Hossa's game-winner. The 2010-11 season opening night and ceremony/banner raising. The April win over NJ where Antti Niemi bested Marty Brodeur on the shootout and I knew it meant we were destined to win the Cup that year.  

There's two moments that particularly stand out in my mind, however. The first was the end of game 4 in the Sharks sweep, as the clock ticked out, and there was that tiny fear that something terrible would happen in the last minutes and somehow it would take another game to clinch the Final berth. My hands were shaking so hard - my whole body was shaking - that I could barely hold onto my camera for the last 2 minutes of play. I had to put the strap around my neck so I wouldn't drop it. I couldn't even fathom how the players themselves could stay focused down at ice level. And they won - and seeing the Jumbotron change from "5" to "4", and knowing that our boys were going to the Cup - the Blackhawks were going to the Stanley Cup! - and not knowing whether I should shout or cry or laugh, and doing all at once. Getting to see that live was a moment I'll remember forever.

The other important memory (memories, actually) for me for 2010 - and my favorite - is getting my mom to go to her first hockey games. She had watched a little bit of Olympic and playoff hockey, and it was so cute to watch her getting all excited about the play. (I'm not ashamed to admit I sold her on hockey via appealing to her national pride as a Finn by talking up our Finnish goalie last season.) But she finally agreed to go to a hockey game with me, so her very first game was a Florida Panthers vs Nashville Predators rookie exhibition game. Some day when he makes his name in the NHL, my mom will be able to say she saw Erik Gudbranson's NHL debut, even if it wasn't a regular game. 

But she also agreed to go with me to a regular NHL game, so I took her to her first official NHL game after Christmas, the Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning. We were rooting for TBL, who unfortunately lost in the last half minute, but it was a good exciting game with some amazing plays, and she was clearly enjoying herself. (And, like mother, like daughter, also busy photographing the game.) My family went to Red Sox games when I was a kid, but I was never quite the baseball addict my brother is; hockey is my game. Most of my family just realized quite recently how much I love hockey, although it's something I've been following for 30 years. I love that my mom now signs emails to me "Go Hawks!" And slowly but surely, she's been picking up the lingo and the play, and she even has a favorite player (Dustin Byfuglien, who won her over with his playoff goal celebrations), and she asks me how the Blackhawks are doing, and she'll even let me know about how the local ECHL team is doing in her part of the country.


(pictures by HockeyBroad except as noted)

My favorite hockey memory of 2010 is actually centered around a 7 minute window where nothing was taking place on the ice. I was sitting in Section 328, row 11 next to my Dad on May 29th for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. I recall literally shaking in my seat as the lights went down following the subtle announcement of Philadelphia's starters. This is what we had all been waiting for; we had officially arrived. 

They say a playoff atmosphere is noticeably different than that of a regular season game. THIS was even a large notch above that. Absent were the pink Kane jerseys, corporate suits and clueless mouthbreathers checking out their first hockey game. It was diehard city. The building had been completely packed for an hour already and by this point the United Center was ready to explode. As a new Stanley Cup intro video played on the video screen, the stadium was abuzz. All at once, it was as if 49 years of frustration, no televised home games, bad trades, bad hockey teams, Alexander Karpovtsev, untimely injuries, and being the forgotten stepchild of the Chicago sports world exploded into a deafening "LET'S GO HAWKS" chant. More videos followed, more noisiness ensued, and then it ended with the loudest National Anthem in recorded history. Oh yea, and of course there was the hockey game.

- John

* * *

My favourite hockey memory in 2010 was watching the USA-Canada gold-medal game at the Olympics.

Living in Ireland makes it tough to watch hockey anyway, but being close enough to the UK allows me to pick up the BBC channel signals so I can watch them for sports and other shows and what-not. (For obvious reasons, local TV didn't have any major Winter Olympic coverage. As far as I remember, we only had 4 athletes represented.)

Only at college, my TV at my apartment wasn't picking them up. Panic-stricken, I went round to a friend of mine's to see if he had it, and as luck would have it, he wasn't at home. Eventually I landed in our student bar and managed to convince the barman to put the game on, I'd just got there on time for the opening face-off.

There were only a small handful of guys there at the time, I think it was about 9pm locally and, as with it being a Sunday, not exactly a busy time in a student bar in a country where the majority get their booze from an off-license and drink at home first before heading out much later, but I digress.

As I was getting more and more into the game, naturally enough the others at the bar were like, "whoa, you actually understand what's happening and what the rules are?", so I took the time to kinda cover the basic sorta stuff and fill them in. Slowly but surely they started getting into the game too, and, as I was rooting for the US (by way of having a €5 bet on them taking gold), the others naturally followed suit.

The game itself from what I recall was somewhat of a goaltending clinic, and Miller and Luongo had both played out of their skins. Sweating buckets when I saw Miller heading to the bench for the extra attacker, 2-1 down, all 6 or 7 of us exploded when Parise got that last ditch game-tying goal with seconds left. Typical drama, after 9 years of videogames, YouTube clips and loosely following news online, the first game I actually watch live goes to OT.

Then Crosby cost me that €5 with his gold-winning goal. At that point though, I couldn't care less about a lousy fiver, I had an absolute blast watching the game with total strangers, and I'd happily do it all over again if I had to.

Compared to watching the Stanley Cup Finals online at home, with a few friends on MSN group chat and over Twitter, this one experience was worth far more to me than any of the 6 cup games were. It was great to see the cup hoisted, don't get me wrong, but it's a far different feeling when you're at home, virtually alone with nobody to share it with.

- James

* * *

I've always enjoyed hockey, but the guy I dated for 4 years was never really into it...I had to CONVINCE him to watch the Stanley cup game. I just graduated from U of I, born into a Blackhawks family so I've always supported them, but it wasn't until my boyfriend of 4 years broke up with me that I realized how awesome they are. I was a mess, borderline depressed, missed work, tragic looking, did not want to go out, only stayed in my pjs after the breakup.

Then my sister shook me out of it and demanded that I go with her and her boyfriend to the United Center to see the Hawks vs Flames on Dec 5. The United Center was electrifying, Ive never experienced anything like it--not to mention the Hawks were on FIRE even though they had lost Kane early on.  As the Hawks scored their first goal and the Chelsea Dagger played and everyone danced and sang, I looked around at all of the energy in that room and realized that my stupid breakup and emo feelings were taking so much out of me, I knew I could be investing in something positive like everyone else around me.  That's when I fell hard. I started watching old blackhawk games, reading interviews, watching the silly videos that the team created on their away games. The  blackhawks saved my soul and that's a fact.

- V.

* * *

After watching the Hawks hoist the Stanley Cup from a friends house, I was heading back home for the night on my motorcycle. While my first instinct was to avoid riding down Clark Street due to the mayhem I assumed was taking place in Wrigleyville, I decided that was exactly what I should do.

Amidst a seas of drunken revelers and the constant blare of car horns, a magical moment occurred. While crossing the intersection of Clark/Addison, I spotted a top-down convertible heading the opposite direction, complete with fans hanging out of the side screaming "Go Blackhawks!" I decided it was only appropriate to veer into the middle of the road and get myself a drive-by high five from a stranger. While it certainly wasn't the smartest, it was definitely the most memorable moment from the year.

- Colin

* * *

As an avid Hockey fan before, nothing could have prepared me for the love affair which would officially begin in 2010. The main memory which stuck out to me in 2010, was watching the Winter Olympics with J., my roommate at the time. We cheered for our countrymen and women for most of the events, but was torn during the Hockey games.

Due to the major time difference between where we lived and Vancouver, sleep took a back-burner. It was so tempting to skip work and fly to Vancouver to watch any of the Hockey games. It didn't matter the country or who it was against. The main game we HAD to watch was USA vs. Canada. Mens' AND Womens'. Any game between the two countries involved: bitten nails, clenched fists, and quiet yelling to not wake the neighbors. Everything I loved about a regular hockey game, was multiplied exponentially.

It didn't matter than once the Olympic games were over, these people would go back to being average Joes and Janes, except for the professional NHL players. It was for more than the love of the game, it was also the love of the country. We rejoiced with the Women's teams as they battled out a fantastic game. Well done, Team Canada! And of course, my girls on Team USA, I am so proud. Keep paving the way, ladies!

When J. and I found out, who was going to the final for the Mens, we went nuts. She was traveling that day, so I was forced to watch alone until late into the 2nd Period. Oh my gosh! I was screaming for her to get back to our apartment ASAP! This was a game not to be missed.

When the buzzer clearly stated the end of the 3rd and the beginning of overtime, we were both glued to the sofa. Both teams desired the taste of Gold so badly. Nevertheless, we knew that Canada NEEDED to win it. No drinking of water, no eating of food, turning off the mobile phones fully. When Crosby made that winning goal, I am sure most of the apartments in the complex could hear us screaming. CANADA WINS!! If we hadn't learned the National Anthem of Canada by now, we definitely we not watching enough of the Olympics. LOL.

I was so gutted to see how sad Team USA mens were. At the core, they were considered a bit of an underdog, yet they kept strong and made America proud. Everyone from "sea to shining sea" well aware who was wearing the red,white, and blue. After the Olympics were over, I made sure to look up which team each played for. There are a few which are rivals to my team, but they are still my fellow countryman (I am looking at you, Ryan Kesler!), who I would gladly shake the hand of, if we ever met.

So, there you are, my ULTIMATE favourite hockey memory of 2010, next to the Hawks winning the Stanley Cup, of course.

- forksvschopstic

* * *

It was just "annoying" to some. "Horrifying" to others. Unexpected to all of them. Just like in a Hitchcock movie, a long scream disturbed the (unusual) quiet night in São Paulo; "É GOOOL!" (something like "it's a goal!" in a loose interpretation of the brazilian portuguese expression).

The thing is, that happened late at night, when all possible sports contest going on to the south of the Equator had ended. "É gol". Just that solitary scream. Which was quite curious coming to think of the fact that the World Cup of Soccer, this secular brazilian fixation, hadn't even begun yet. The fact is, that goal was scored on the other side of the planet. Fourty-nine years later, the Chicago Blackhawks had won another Stanley Cup, with another goal by Patrick Kane.

Funny. for the whole playoffs, he had sung the wrong lyrics to that ol' Scorpions song. “Kaner's song”, as he’d refer to it. "It's insaaaane... another goal by PATRICK KANE..." He'd say the name just a tad louder, so he could see that smile on the wife's face. They'd had a rough year, the two. Pretty much like a tough regular NHL season, plus six and seven-game series and numerous turnarounds, broken bones, lost teeth, pulled groins. A handful of problems, but in the end, a blissfull new begining.

After the only scream to the sound of the border, there was no music. There were tears. A rainful of them.

As there is right now, as I remember this story.

That guy is me, and I want to have a kid so I can tell him the story of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions: your Chicago Blackhawks.

- Thiago

* * *

My favourite hockey memory of 2010 has to be seeing the city of Vancouver go absolutely mental after the Canadian gold medal win.

I watched the game at a longtime friend's place, with several hockey fans, their spouses (of various levels of interest) and of course my own (Mexican-born) lovely wife Nadia. She got swept up in the excitement, and cheered as loud as any of the rest of us - with her new Canadian passport in her pocket. It was the perfect end to an amazing Olympic experience.

We celebrated with some impressive BC microbrew, walked the streets singing O Canada with truckloads of complete strangers, and what can I say? Our firstborn child was brought into the world November 5 just ten blocks from where Sid the Kid scored that golden goal.

- Jason

* * *

My favorite memory is a toss up between Kane scoring the winning goal in OT and going to the championship parade. But the parade wins, hands down.

I work 2 blocks from where the parade started-it was so hot and humid that day. A group of us from work were standing out in the blazing sun in the middle of Wacker & Washington waiting for the Hawks & Stanley to come by. There was a guy that had climbed on to one of the light poles and he was our "lookout" to see when the parade was starting. He would make a move, we'd get excited thinking the Hawks were close. We heard the roar of the crowd before we even saw them. Then we finally saw the Hawks and finally, the Stanley Cup! It was so amazing to see that many people all trying to get a glimpse of Sharp, Toews, Kane and all the Hawks. Everytime I look at those pics, it brings a huge smile to my face.

- Jaime

* * *

I have a couple of favorite memories of 2010.  The first would be getting my wife and my sister-in-law excited about the Olympic hockey tournament.  My wife was really excited about the Olympic break, because she was sure that this would afford her a break from my hockey watching schedule.  There was to be no such luck.  However, once my wife (and later, her sister) got stuck watching the games with me, there was no turning back.  I think the international style of play (with the bigger rink) was exciting for them to watch, and the intensity with which many of the players played also made for some of the best hockey we've seen in quite some time.  I suppose in a way they both got a little spoiled by seeing such a great tournament, but it was a lot of fun to watch the games with some folks who were having their first exposure to international hockey (even if I had to answer a lot of questions).

The second, obviously, would be the Hawks winning the cup.  My wife and I moved to Madison, WI, in September of 2009, and I had to struggle to catch a lot of games, as I was working nights and didn't get Gamecenter until after the Olympic break.  So, when the playoffs came, I was really excited to get to catch all of the games in HD on Versus.  If you remember, most of the games in the first and second rounds were joined 'in progress' on Versus, so I rarely got to see an entire game in those rounds (because I couldn't get the WGN or CSN feed).  By the time the conference finals rolled around, the Hawks TV schedule was having a serious impact on the itinerary of the whole household, as my wife was enjoying the games as much as I was.  Okay, maybe not quite as much, but a lot nonetheless.

One of the only good things, sports-wise, about living in Wisconsin (other than Badger's hockey) is the ability to go to Cubs' games over in Milwaukee.  We decided when tickets went on sale that we would get tickets for each night of one of the Milwaukee series: June 8, 9, and 10.  Needless to say, as the day of the 9th approached, we both sought out friends/co-workers/random people that looked interested in paying any amount of money to see two shitty baseball teams play each other on a school night.  When we could find no one, my wife suggested that we go to the game, peek in on the Hawks game (which we were DVRing at home) in the bar, and sit at the bar to watch the 3rd period.

This was a fine suggestion until we got to the game.  As is common with Chicago sports fans, there were more Hawks hats than Cubs hats that night.  (This is something I will never understand, by the way, but this probably isn't the time or place for such a discussion.)  So, we were pretty sure that we would be able to get info from people around us, but NO ONE really seemed aware of the fact that the Hawks were playing   The powers that be in Milwaukee went out of their way to make sure that every sporting event in the world was on the TV's at Miller Park that night other than the Hawks-Flyers game.  

We finally were able to find a TV that some intrepid Chicagoan had scaled a cement pillar to change to NBC, and saw that the score was tied in the second period.  This excited us, but we were more disturbed by the plethora of 'Go Flyers!' and 'F--k Chicago!' calls that we heard around the TV.  At this point, the Cubs were up handily, and my wife suggested that we go home, because, as she put it, if the Hawks win, it will be basically the best sports thing to happen to me since the Bears made it to the Super Bowl in 2006, and that there was no reason that I should have to share that experience with a bunch of Chicago-hating assholes from Milwaukee.  (Why everyone in Milwaukee would hate on the Hawks is another phenomenon that is beyond me.  Wisconsin is a place that loves hockey, and the Hawks are the closest team, but whatever.)

So, we head out for the 70 minute drive home.  Along the way, we see a pretty serious accident on the highway.  When we get home, I head right to the cable remote, start the DVR recording, and then turn the TV on, so that I don't accidentally catch a glimpse of any aftermath before I see the game.  My wife goes into the computer room while I am fast-forwarding, to check the news regarding the accident that we passed on the way home.  From the office, I hear an 'Oh damn', and my wife says something about the extent of the injuries suffered by the driver in the accident.  

She comes down stairs and we are watching, and she's being really down on the team and asking questions about the next game, and what the team should do differently if it goes to a game 7, and so forth.  And then a goal! When Kane jumped up and swung his arms like a sissy little girl immediately after putting the puck into the net, I joined him in almost an identical little-girl-hopscotch manner, jumping around my living room like a fool (as I'm sure many in Chicago had also done...several hours earlier.)  My wife almost wet herself laughing at my excitement, and was proud of herself for selling her 'Oh damn' as a reaction to the accident, when in reality Google news had immediately shown her that the Hawks had won.

The payoff to this story isn't all that super, in retrospect, but it meant a lot to me.  My wife knew how excited I was about everything, and did her best to help me enjoy this (hopefully not, but potentially) once in a lifetime experience to the fullest extent possible.  This playoff year was special for all of that, and also because we have a baby coming in May, so any playoff hockey I see this year I am unlikely to remember as a result of sleep deprivation.

- Stephen

* * *

My favorite hockey memory from 2010 was the trip my friend Becky & I took to Dallas, TX to see the Dallas Stars in April.  Goalie Marty Turco was my "gateway drug" into the world of hockey, and I wanted nothing more than to see him and American hockey hero Mike Modano at their home arena.

After months of saving, planning & excitement, we finally made it to American Airlines Center on April 2nd to see our ECHL team's (Stockton Thunder) affiliate, Edmonton Oilers, take on the Stars.

The Stars had recently signed goalie Kari Lehtonen, so unfortunately Marty Turco wasn't starting that night.  But when he hit the ice for warmups, I couldn't care less, I was seeing Turco on his turf, he was amazing and I took dozens of photos of him while I could. 

I was ecstatic to see Mike Modano play.  We would learn shortly after that game, that Turco and Modano would not be re-signed to the Stars.  Becky & I were lucky to have been able to see them in one of their last games with their longtime teams.  The Stars won 6-3 over the Oilers that night, but what mattered was I got to see my hockey/goalie idol Marty Turco.

Now Turco is on the Blackhawks, not doing as well as I or any of their fans want him to, but I love him still.  I have Marty-colored eyes, he can rarely do no wrong by me.  And I still have hope that he'll recover a good place in Blackhawks fans' hearts, after all, he has a big part in mine!

- Lyndall

* * *

(picture courtesy of Alexa)

My favorite memory is a very recent one. In December I went to a Tony Esposito signing. Now granted most would think "Okay great, a signing. Big whoop." But the reason that it's my favorite hockey memory of 2010 is because not only did I get to shake Tony Esposito's freaking hand but it was also a huge surprise for my father, a die hard Blackhawks fan since he was in diapers.

My father has always been an exceptionally hard person to buy gifts for and this year it seemed like fate that the Blackhawks book One Goal Achieved should be released not long before Christmas. So my brother and I bought it and then decided to get it signed by the legendary Tony O. At the last second we thought to bring Da along. He had no idea where were going and when we finally arrived and told him what we were doing, he was like a kid on Christmas, all smiles and barely contained excitement.

He was even more excited when we showed him the book hidden in the trunk of our car along with his vintage caricature of Tony O that is easily 40+ years old and still in mint condition. For the next three hours we sat in line flipping through the book, talking to other Hawks fans and listening to John Wiedeman on the speacker system. Da even got to ask Tony a question! (Da "How many goals would you say your brother scored on you in your career?" Tony "Oh quite a few.") For my brother and I, seeing our father so obviously enthralled for the first time in years was the greatest gift for us this holiday season and I will forever treasure that memory.

- Alexa

* * *

As a whole, the most prominent motif in my life during 2010 was hockey. It was my second year actually being a fan, but in a way it was the first year that I truly and genuinely saw it change my life.

There were many moments that I am immensely proud of having been a part of--walking in the Pride Parade with Brent Sopel and the Cup, which we did in Brendan Burke's honor; being crushed in the Stanley Cup Parade; spending so much time with other fans at convention; several run-ins with players; and getting to wear a legit Blackhawks Stanley Cup Ring--but really, the most amazing and surreal hockey-related moment of my year came right after they won the Cup. The silence in the condo, which had been impossibly loud seconds before, stretched even as Patrick Kane celebrated. I remember reaching out, needing to hold someone's hand, and both a new acquaintance and a close friend responded.

And as I started losing circulation, I heard a deafening victory shout that I realized had come from me--and we all jumped, still holding hands, and began screaming and crying. The euphoria stayed with us for hours; we celebrated in the apartment for a good thirty minutes we walked down State and then Madison like we owned the world. And then my good friend Kat, whom I credit for awakening hockey passion in me, suggested we head to O'Hare to receive our victorious boys and welcome them home, so we did. We took a long train ride, ran around the entire airport, talked to a ton of other fans and some employees, and then took another train ride to pick up a car to drive us out to Harry Carey's due to instructions from a new friend--but what really mattered was that, at 4:37AM, exhausted and euphoric and freezing and alive, a sea of us cheered as the Blackhawks filed out of the bus and held the Cup aloft for us to see. I had never seen it in person before, and there was something mystical about that gleam of silver reflecting the restaurant's light even as camera flashes threatened to blind me. There are no words to describe the feeling of lightness as we saw that the Cup was theirs, was ours, and that all of the tears and the sweat and the faith that we had devoted to this team was worthwhile.

And so now, even when I see the team struggle, I remember that feeling--and I am certain we will share it again. LET'S GO HAWKS!

- Lee

1 comment:

  1. I composed this a while back but haven't had a chance to post it until now.
    My Most Memorable Hockey Moment from 2010
    It’s pretty clear in my case – the fact that I was actually at the United Center watching the Blackhawks clinch the Western Conference crown. I wouldn’t have paid scalper’s prices to attend, but I guess the gods were smiling upon me on that day weeks earlier when tickets went on sale. I hit the Ticketmaster site at the moment tickets went on sale, and when the process was over, I found myself in possession of two standing room seats for Game B of the conference finals!

    At the time, we didn’t know whether the Hawks would even make it that far. We also didn’t know who they’d be playing, or whether those tickets would be for game 2 or game 4 of the series (depending on which team had home ice advantage). If the Red Wings had beaten the Sharks, Chicago would have had home ice and I’d have been at game 2, but the Sharks won, so the series began in San Jose, pushing my tickets to game 4 (you’ll be tested on all of this later so I hope you’re taking notes).

    You may recall how it worked out – the Hawks swept the Sharks, putting me on the scene for the clinching game. I’ve been a rabid fan of many sports all my life, but this was certainly the most high-level clinching game I’d ever attended. The atmosphere was electric, and in the closing minutes, with victory at hand, all the oxygen seemed to drain out of the UC. When the final horn blew and a trip to the finals had been secured, the UC seemed as if it could have been consumed by the collective euphoria of the moment. The cheering and screaming didn’t subside for a long, long time. It was an amazing thing to be immersed in.

    It was unavoidable, though, that I had to think about my friend Jim in that moment. Jim had passed away unexpectedly, and far too young, less than a year before. He wasn’t merely one of my best friends; he was also the most knowledgeable hockey fan I’ve ever known. He’d grown up playing it in northern Michigan and had excelled as a player through grade school and high school. He would probably have gotten a hockey scholarship to college if he hadn’t trashed both of his knees when he was 17. But he continued to play in non-checking adult leagues after college and remained a passionate and knowledgeable fan. There was something so very, very wrong about not being able to share this moment with Jim, or even to be able to call him up and tell him about it afterward. He was a bright and articulate person, and I was left to try to imagine what marvelous comments and insights he might have contributed. But I don’t want anyone to think that attending the clinching game 4 was a somber occasion. No, not at all; just kind of bittersweet at times. There were, to be sure, other wonderful hockey moments from 2010, but all in all, nothing close to this.


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