MORRISSEY: Blackhawks seem to embody what Chicago is all about
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org June 25, 2013 9:56PM
BOSTON — The blood oozing from the fresh stitches on Andrew Shaw’s right cheek — that’s Chicago, isn’t it? That’s us.
Well, not exactly us. There’s only one face like Shaw’s. It’s a hockey player’s face, with a timeline of recent cuts and old scars carved into it, and a wispy, spectacularly awful playoff beard added for good measure. And, OK, he’s from Belleville, Ontario, not even Belleville, Ill.
But we want to see our city in these Blackhawks. It’s a bit foolish, I know, but it’s there. We look at their hard work, their spirit, their regular-guy-ness, and we see us. We want to believe that, had we been blessed with their talent, we’d play with the same ferocity. They play like Chicago would play, relentlessly, which is why, in the end, they were the ones left holding the Stanley Cup.
Down a goal to the Bruins in Game 6 with a little more than a minute left in regulation? What of it? Bryan Bickell ties it off an assist by the ever-present, ever-frenetic Jonathan Toews. Then Dave Bolland, a man nicknamed “the Rat’’ — you know, with the best possible context in mind — stuffs in the game-winner and Cup-clincher 17 seconds later.
What resonates still is the almost complete lack of studied coolness to these Hawks. No posturing, just pure, uncut joy. When hockey players celebrate, they celebrate together. A goal-scorer doesn’t skate away from teammates, the way a soccer player sprints in search of a spotlight. In hockey, he seeks out teammates to hug.
And so the Hawks hugged and hugged Monday night/Tuesday morning after one of the most remarkable comebacks in Stanley Cup history. Or maybe they were just holding each other up, lest they all fall in one exhausted heap.
“We didn’t want another game,’’ Toews said. “We couldn’t take the stress. Keep the bars open, we’re going to fill up the Cup. We’re ready for a party.”
They certainly were, as the stories from their arrival at O’Hare and subsequent march through Chicago’s bars and nightclubs Tuesday morning attest. When they climb aboard the double-decker buses for Friday’s downtown parade, you can bet they will be celebrating with you.
You, being the veteran title celebrator, know what to do. You went through this with the Hawks in 2010. Show up in hordes along the parade route, watch the conquering champions through a blizzard of confetti and pay homage until your voice sounds like car tires rolling slowly on gravel.
The record 24 straight games with at least a point to start the season somehow got topped in the last game of the playoffs. Nobody predicted this particular ending. Don’t lie. You didn’t. Late Monday, Chicago was already gearing up for Game 7. That’s how it was going to be. Fine. You could work with that. One more game wasn’t going to kill you, though after five overtime periods in the series, you wondered if it might.
And then 17 seconds of madness.
“Fairy-tale ending,’’ coach Joel Quenneville called it and nailed it.
Toews will tell you that he has received more than enough attention for his performance Monday night, but I’m not sure we’ve given him his due. This goes beyond the goal and assist he had in Game 6 and directly to the doggedness and fearlessness that make him so good. He’s the one player who can’t be taken out of the equation for the Hawks. There is no Cup without the captain. There are no Cups, plural, without him.
He keeps going no matter what. Some people call it a blue-collar attitude, probably because nobody wants to be caught dead with a white-collar attitude or, worse, a smoking-jacket-and-ascot attitude. An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay is all Chicago asks.
Shaw was leveled by a puck to his face in the first period. He eventually got up, got stitched up and got back to work because that’s what you gotta do as a Chicagoan. You go to work even if you don’t feel so good. You reverse the flow of a river. You build a canal. You move cattle and pack meat. You rebuild a city after a fire. Ladling too much on here? Maybe, maybe not.
Shaw held the fruits of his labor high over his head Monday night, the silver trophy shining in the lights at TD Garden, a red smear on his cheek. He stuck out his tongue and licked the blood. Perfect.