(Photo: Jerry Lai/USA Today Sports)

I took a little time to wallow.

We’ve had our hardships over the years–the Blackhawks and I–on the quest for Lord Stanley.

As a Chicago sports fan, I’d become accustomed to disappointing season after season. I was 2 years old when the Bears last took a Super Bowl, still pretty young (and not incredibly interested) when the Bulls three-peated, twice; and the annual mantra of my beloved Chicago Cubs is “wait until next year.”

Besides, those other teams don’t do for me what hockey does. From the chills-inducing anthem to the Chelsea Dagger goal dance to the most exciting playoffs for the best trophy in all of sports, I was more than a little heartbroken to see it end too early this year.

The Western Conference Final was an emotional ride.

 

To be one goal away from the Stanley Cup Final in an overtime victory between two pretty evenly-matched teams, and to come back from a 3-1 deficit only to see “my guys” go home, well, I needed time to wallow.

The end of hockey season is tough enough.

But it’s especially hard seeing Stan kissing someone else so soon after us

The Los Angeles Kings were a force to be reckoned with. To beat them and progress to the Final, the Blackhawks would have had to come out hard and play hard to the finish. By falling behind in the series, then giving up a lead in Game 7, they put themselves in the position where a wonky shot from Kings defenseman Alec Martinez just might knock them out of the run for the Cup. Martinez would go on to score the Cup-winner against the Rangers in another high-stakes overtime.

Much of this season for the Blackhawks was too little, too late. They had difficulty maintaining leads all season, a trouble that was particularly burdensome for the team when it mattered the most.

It isn’t that the team is lacking in talent.

They have, I’ll argue, the best captain in the league with Jonathan Toews. The 2013 Champs’ team core stayed intact, with Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and veteran Marian Hossa providing offensive leadership; and Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Brent Seabrook showing depth on defense.

Bryan Bickell shone in the playoffs again this season.

Corey Crawford had nothing to be ashamed of between the pipes, either. In fact, he, Toews, and Kane all came up big in some pivotal playoff moments.

The younger men on the squad, from Ben Smith to Andrew Shaw, Sheldon Brookbank, and Brandon Saad all were able to step up as needed.

So, where did things go wrong?

I don’t want to blame the Blackhawks’ locker room guards/public relations staff for this; but, really, who else could be at fault?

bieber curse

(Photo/Twitter)

This has to be way worse than the Curse of the Billy Goat.

Now, I have to survive summer–an even scarier time as a hockey fan–the time of year when players become free agents, are traded, or simply retire. Saying goodbye to a trophy that could come back another season is one thing. Saying goodbye to “teammates” is quite another.

Ultimately, I’ll get by.

hockey familyAfter all, hockey hugs are the best around.

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

NO COMMENTS

Leave a Reply