On June 1st, 1992 I remember going into my dads bedroom where he was layin down watching tv. I sat on the edge of the bed, wondering what he was watching. Turns out it was game 4 of the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals, which was the Chicago Blackhawks vs Pittsburgh Penguins. I remember asking question after question and he was happy to answer, even though the Hawks were about to get swept in the Finals. What I didn’t know at the time was just how much my dad enjoyed the Hawks.
It wasn’t until a few years later in 1994 when I was in 8th grade that I actually learned how much the Hawks meant. My dad surprised me with tickets to my first Hawks game. He said he wanted me to experience the sights and smells of the old Chicago Stadium. Now if you have ever been to Chicago Stadium, you know that it was old, small, smelly, and loud.
Looking back now, the best part wasn’t going to the game, but hearing the stories that my dad had of being a kid and running up the stairs to get a good seat for my grandpa and cousin Kenny. My dad would talk about my grandpa taking him to Mama Schiavone bar and how some of the players would go in after the games and would chat with my dad and grandpa while that drank. The 60’s obviously were a different time, since a young kid in a bar wouldn’t fly today. Now after hearing these stories about Mama Schiavone’s, I figured it was just a simple high five and that was it. Then, in 2013 at the Blackhawks convention, I had the opportunity to talk to Bobby Hull as he signed my tattoo. Of course my dad took advantage of the situation and asked Bobby if he remembered that bar. And wouldn’t you know it, Bobby remembered. Not only did he remember, but he remembered chatting with my dad and grandpa. Of course you could chalk it up to him just agreeing for the sake of agreement. But he started talking about the same stuff my dad told me about. So just as my dad had the memory of meeting Hull with my grandpa, I have the memory of meeting Hull with my dad.
As I’ve stated before in a prior post, there are certain things you do with your parents, grandparents, or any family member for that matter that will lead to traditions, and those that will be etched in your mind. So tonight, almost 4 months to the day that my grandpa passed, we sit here getting ready for game 1 of the 2017/2018 NHL season. My grandma, aunts, dad and mom are all here…and even though I look to my right and see an empty red chair, I know my grandpa is sitting there.
Tonight is the first preseason game for the Blackhawks. Normally, I’d be excited about this and call my dad and grandpa to see if they’re going to watch it, but not tonight. My dad and I decided not to go to the home opener, but rather watch it at his house, with my uncles, with my grandpa’s jersey on the chair he sat in. For the first time my dad will have to watch a game knowing he can’t call his dad to celebrate a win or pick him up to watch the game. Some of you may think that this is being over dramatic, but the Blackhawks were a bonding experience that was passed on through generations. Some may have memories of baking cookies with their grandma, or perhaps fishing with their grandpa, mine was celebrating a goal. As the Blackhawks take the puck past the blue line and slip the puck past the goalie, this celebration will be different, this celebration will be with tears.