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playoff hockey

2010-05-17 - jjackunrau

On my busride home from work the other day, there was a guy wearing a blue fleece with a logo at around the C7 vertebra (you know the one I mean, the big one up at the base of your neck). It took me a few seconds to place where I knew that logo from, but when he got off the bus and turned so I could see the front of the fleece I could see the Jets logo right where I expected it. Back in 1993 or so, I had one of those fleeces. It was the internal component with a crappy nylon outer layer. The nylon would just let any rain or moisture through, exactly in the way you didn’t want a jacket to behave, but I still wore it and loved it.

Mine, of course, wasn’t blue white and red with a Jets logo, but was red white and black supporting the Chicago Blackhawks. They were my team. That last trip to the conference final had me cheering all the way. It’s not like the stupid Jets could ever get past the first round anyway. And Chicago had Ed Belfour, then a rookie, and he was from Carman, which is just down the road from where my uncles grew up. They’d been just a little too old to play against him, or maybe they had. So Ed Belfour was like my hometown hero. I had a T-Shirt with just the logo swallowing up my whole torso, and another that was Ed Belfour painted in what strikes me now as the kind of style you’d use to put some bitchin’ wolves on the side of your van. I still have at least three hats, and remember how much planning went into being able to afford each of them. In those junior high years I loved the Blackhawks more than any other sports team since. And they never did real well in the playoffs. And behind Belfour was this hot new kid named Dominik Hasek, who started upstaging my goalie. I still hate that guy.

When Belfour got traded to Dallas I was forced to make the choice. Do I stick with the team, or do I follow the player who made the team what I loved? I didn’t choose, instead I drifted out of really caring about hockey. I mean, I was glad when Belfour did win the Stanley Cup with the Stars, but I don’t have a team I follow, and when the playoffs are on I’ll watch whoever’s playing, unless it’s ridiculous like Carolina and Atlanta. But in general I don’t get hockey, can’t see how it works the way I can with baseball, and without an emotional tie to a team I can’t get nearly as excited about it as I used to.

That said, I’m kind of sad my Blackhawks hats are all stuck in storage on the other end of town. If they make it to the Cup I’ll go get one out.

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