“Well you can tell by the way I use my walk,
I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk,
Music loud, and women warm,
I’ve been knocked around since I was born…” – The Bee Gee’s
Warning: The following piece may contain disagreeable and highly objectionable material to those offended by the pulsating sounds of “Disco Music.” If you were in attendance at Comiskey Park on July 12, 1979 for Steve Dahl’s infamous “Disco Demolition Night,” I urge you not to read this. That was the night Dahl and his “Insane Coho Lips Anti-Disco Army” demolished the field in between a double header with the Detroit Tigers. I realize most hockey fans would not have been caught dead in a disco. And I risk being physically beaten if they read this and spot me at the United Center; but in my mind the Bee Gee’s song Staying Alive perfectly describes the Blackhawks’ pulsating season. (On a side note – tell me some of you macho men wearing Bob Probert jerseys did not practice some of Travolta moves in the shower. You know who you are.)
The only time I was in a disco was at Eric the Reds on 111th street in Chicago. There were ladies, (and I use the term very loosely), with big hair and skimpy attire, interspersed with Travolta wannabes with exposed chest hair, blinding bling and bell bottom leisure suits. What the hell were they thinking? I’m not positive, but I think blue jeans were banned there. I recall having a beer on the balcony that circled the dance floor where the action was hot and heavy. While I preferred the hot and heavy action from the second balcony at the old Chicago Stadium, I couldn’t help notice the wolves stalking their “defenseless” prey on the dance floor. The ladies men in our group, (Dilly, Joe Burke and to a lesser extent, Jerry McP), after a few rejections, finally found dance partners. The only one of those three to have a modicum of rhythm was Dilly. But as usual, I just be “jive talkin’”.
Again, I apologize for putting that song in your head. Trust me; it will be resurfacing many times in the next few weeks as the Hawks, the Mighty Puzzling Blackhawks, continue their defense of Lord Stanley’s Chalice. I guarantee you, at least once you’ll be pointing that finger to the sky as memories of Saturday Night Fever resurface. This song popped into my head Sunday night as I took the beasts for an extended walk around the neighborhood. It was late and no one was out, so every once and awhile I’d let out a “Staying alive, staying alive, ah,ha,ha,ha staying alive.” As I walked the dogs I wondered if the they were beginning to associate the smell of Stella Artois, screams of “Yes!!”, smiles and extended walks, (and now Bee Gee music), with Blackhawk wins. Actually, it seems all they really give a darn about is the pre bed treats.
As it turned out, I watched the game at my mom’s, and missed the second period as we played a dice game called Greed. (would desiring a second Stanley Cup be considered greed?) I wanted to prove I could be social and refute my darling wife’s claim that all I care about is the Blackhawks. I have to admit watching that game was giving me an ulcer also, so it was a little break from the anxiety of watching a desperate “Canuck” team, pour it on. My sister in law, Syndy, kept yelling at me to put away my Blackberry as I checked the score after every roll of the dice.
While we played, my brother John brought up some fond memories from the “way back machine.” Any of you Hawk fans recall a scoundrel, that wore the ugliest jersey in the history of the NHL, called Tiger Williams? He scored over 500 points in his professional career, but I believe he’ll always be known for his ability to amass penalty minutes – I believe he still holds the all time NHL record for time spent in the sin-bin. What really made us laugh though was the memory of perhaps the best goal celebration ever in the NHL. Sin Bin Williams would gather a head of steam after he scored, put his stick between his leg and pump his fist like he was in a rodeo. We also recalled the tomfoolery of Harold Snepsts. All I recall of him was that he was not a very nice man – but one hell of a kick-ass d-man.
Anyway, on to my in depth analysis of the game. Again, our little shepherd boy named King David set the tone with an explosive check that sent Hamhuis to the deck. Rubbing salt into the wound, #6 was still sitting on his duff when Bickell lit the lamp for our first strike. Later in the game, in a page out of Bolland’s playbook, Bickell finally did what we all have been praying and hoping John Scott would eventually do – namely send Bieksa a wakeup call. After reading that “Mr. I prefer to shoot from the perimeter” is out with a severed tendon, it made me pause and think; did you ever think you’d be saying that was a huge loss for the Hawks this year. Somehow, our giant tinker bell had 3 goals and two assists in this series.
I wrote Chris Block from thethirdmanin.com website after the game and asked him a couple of questions – namely is our defensive plan to let Canuck defensemen get the puck at the point with nary a Hawk within the same zip code? Apparently we’re resorting to the sardine defense – pack them in front of Corey and hope nothing can get through and if it does we’ll be there to collect the spare change. Chris pointed a few things out and then said, “Bolland seems to be playing in a parallel universe.” He also noted “I never thought the day would come when I’d be sitting at a game as I say to myself, ‘By God, Michael Frolik has taken over this hockey game” Surreal.”
Although Lady Luck may have been our strongest player on the ice, there were numerous other heroes for the Hawks. Ryan Johnson’s incredible back check may have saved the season for the Hawks. It also struck a raw nerve with the Vancouver fans who have vilified him on the blog sites. I like to call what RJ did the Beatle Defense, “Get back Jo, Jo.” I must also note that my wife Nathalie noted one of those unheralded technical insights of our grinders – “He’s kind of cute.”
Big Ben, Benji, Franklin, Frodo, whatever you want to call him, is soon to take the place of the rapidly aging teenage heartthrobs Toews and Kane. Tell me he didn’t look like a kid in a candy store while Sarah Kustok was interviewing him. He couldn’t stop smiling. Coach Q put his game winner best; “He tends to go to those areas of the ice where you get rewarded.” The “take repeated crosschecks to your lower back and punches to the head” zone. Nathalie also noted that the #57 car was cute, always a good sign of a player’s hockey ability.
Finally, Toews, Kane, Hossa and Sharp all scored for the Hawks, err wait a minute, according to Bartl’s Boxing it was Bickell, Bolland, Frolik and Smith. Bartleby, is that a typo? Truthfully our Hired Guns had a huge role in the outcome of this action packed game. Kaner’s cerebral play on Bolland’s goal is a clear example of a high hockey IQ. He saw Schneider had his back to him, anticipated where he’d try to get rid of the puck, (like stealing candy from a baby), and put a perfect pass on #36’s stick. Hell, Byfuglien could have knocked that one in.
Hossa’s Houdini act with the puck just prior to Smith’s diabolical backhand, was one of the best plays I’ve seen all year. Forget highlight reel goals, how about highlight reel assists. He looked like a tight end that could play soccer, with a hockey stick in his hand as he emerged from the Rugby scrum along the left dashboards. I’m pretty sure he was humming “staying alive,” as he made the play. Toews didn’t get on the score sheet, but his scowl alone can win games. It’s a good thing we won or #19 would still be staring at the wall in the locker room.
Although Chris Block didn’t think this was the case, I noted something that bothered me after the backhand that ate the city of Vancouver. As soon as the Canuck players saw the puck was in, they lowered their heads and left the ice. They seemed to abandon Luongo, leaving him out on the ice alone – hanging him out to dry so to speak. Now I only saw about the two seconds prior to the wild Hawk celebration, but did anyone notice if any of the Vancouver leaders came out and give Lu a swat on the butt. Though extremely disappointed, I can’t imagine Toews not going up to Corey and saying, “Don’t worry Crow, we got your back on Tuesday.” Leadership – another one of those intangibles.
By the way, a rookie that goes by the nickname of “Crow” (Although I still like Mr. Big from the Rocky and Bullwinkle show better), was phenomenal. I have to tell you about a short story about crows. They are known as one of the smartest creatures on our planet, although they still haven’t been able to invent weapons of mass destruction. We’re still light years ahead of them, or are we? I was playing golf at Cherry Hills C.C. once and was about to hit my tee shot on the 18th hole. As I took my approach, about 8 crows in a tree directly behind the tee made enough noise to wake the Canucks from their slumber. I stepped away and the noise stopped. That’s odd I thought. I once again addressed my ball several times and each time I did this the crows would start up their cacophonous symphony. They were mocking me, messing with my mind and enjoying themselves immensely. Has anyone noticed if “Crow” is making a loud noise before the Sedin’s shoot? Nah, just my imagination.
In closing, my sister Janet who currently lives in Dublin, arrived in Vancouver today for a seminar. She has a couple of colleagues who come from Vancouver who, and I know you’re going to find this hard to believe, were a little obnoxious when Green and Blue men went up 3-0 in the series. She said she was going to low key that she was from Chicago which really ticked me and my brothers off. “Janet, go to a store, buy a Scott jersey and walk around the streets of Vancouver shouting ‘I’m from the Big-Chi and we gonna kick yo ass!”’ Just make sure I’m in your will.
I’d like to leave my friends in Vancouver with a song that may help your general malaise tomorrow. As you look out over the Howe Sound or across the dark and dismal bay towards beautiful Victoria, under a dreary and misting sky, hum a few bars of the song Rogers Park.
“Someone left the cake out in the rain,
I don’t think that I can take it,
Cause it took so long to bake it,
And I’ll never have that recipe again.” – Richard Harris
For us in the Big-Chi, open up your shirt, put on the gaudiest bling you have, point your finger in the air and sing,
“Ah, ha, ha, ha staying alive, staying alive!”