When this site started, hockey was an afterthought. But thanks to a season that saw the Chicago Blackhawks go through two coaches, play a game at Wrigley Field and reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1995, it is OK to care about hockey again in the City of Wind.
Allow me to take you back to my childhood, if only for one moment.
I wasn't exposed to hockey when I was young. Ice skating was hard and it involved me being exposed to cold temperatures for long stretches of time. That didn't fly well with someone who spent his summer days and nights eating, sleeping, drinking and breathing baseball. My family didn't have cable access for some of the Blackhawks' glory years ... and when we did, their home games weren't on TV ... which was the only option for a family that just simply could not afford going to a hockey game at the UC ... one of the cities most expensive tickets.
So when I was young, I didn't care about hockey. The Hawks were mediocre at best and without proper coverage because of their mediocrity, they were put on the pay-no-mind list. Talented players, coaches and even the voice of the Hawks Pat Foley were shown the door under the Bill Wirtz Regime.
And Old Man Wirtz passed away and Rocky came into the picture, things started to change. It was sad to listen to Sports Talk Radio and hear people basically cheer the death of the team's owner. But everyone always said it would take death to Dollar Bill for change to happen.
I guess you can say those guys were prophetic, huh?
Games came to television. Foley returned to the radio. Some guys named Kane and Toews joined the team. So did marketing guru John McDonnough.
That's all I needed to get on board.
I watched from a distance as the Hawks grew together as a team this year. Unfortunately, as the Hawks skyrocketed, so did the know-it-all "die hards" who hated the bandwagon jumpers.
Yes, I'll call myself a bandwagon jumper. But in a sense, bandwagon jumpers can be a good thing.
You can either shun them as an outsider, or accept them as part of the family. But Blackhawks Bandwagoners seem different. They seem like they care enough about the sport and the team to learn and soak in as much history and information as possible. They want to put money into the franchise whether it be with ticket sales, advertising or jersey sales.
Ask any old time Chicagoan and they will tell you tall tales of how the Hawks were once bigger than both the Cubs and the Bears. Chicago was Hawkeytown, USA.
After a stellar season, here's hoping Chicago can have that once again.