Last night, with all Chicagoans, I kvelled as the Chicago Blackhawks won Lord Stanley's Cup, the National Hockey League Championship from a never say quit Philadelphia Flyers team. We celebrate championships in my City so rarely that this was very special. For me -- filled with memories.
In March 1961, my now wife had attended my fraternity Spring Prom. As all of you who went to Michigan remember, the weather was never too good for too long. So, after a beautiful weekend, I drove Bobbi from Ann Arbor to Detroit Metro, the then "international airport" in Ypsilanti a few miles away. We set out in a Spring blizzard of growing intensity -- by the time we reached the airport it was blinding. We went in and it was the two of us...and the Blackhawks, who had won the Stanley Cup that night. We were all young; they were at the bar but gentlemen. Bobbi's flight was canceled and I took her back to Ann Arbor where she left the next day -- by train. From that night forward, the Hawks had not, until last night, won the Cup for 49 years; Bobbi and I were married in 1962 and have lived happily ever after. I became a Blackhawks fan that night.
Over the next few years, I an a client attended game after game, even as the Blackhawks traded away or discarded the men who had won the Cup just years before. I lost interest -- older eyes find it hard to follow the puck you know. A few years ago I was invited to a game with my cousin, Richard Levy, z'l, a dear friend. I resisted -- the games were endless, the Hawks terrible. We went with Richard's business partners -- two brothers, the youngest of whom was an incredible fan and often outrageous. At dinner, at an Italian restaurant at Ashland and Ogden just blocks from the stadium, the younger brother excused himself after we ate, returning to the table with his own Blackhawks jersey -- with his name on the back. At the Chicago Stadium (this was before the construction of The Cell which would replace it) I was seated with the jerseyed brother, Richard and the older brother a few seats away. The game had hardly started when my seatmate started to verbally abuse a large guy for smoking. Things began to escalate -- as I shrunk away, a fist fight ensued. I grabbed Richard; "let's get out of here." And, we did. My last hockey game in person.
But this year's team rekindled interest for me, for all Chicagoans. And then there was last night. May this happen in your City and for your team...soon.