Chicago goes crazy for its Cup winners
Thursday, 06.10.2010 / 8:52 AM CT / Features
By Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent
CHICAGO -- The puck was thrown on goal, there was a collective pause inside Joe's Bar on Weed Street, and then the bubbly flew like it was the inside of the Blackhawks' locker room.
As Patrick Kane's arms shot skyward on the TV screens after his Stanley Cup-winning goal, a mass of Blackhawks fans started to party like it was 1961. After 49 long years without a visit from Lord Stanley's treasured chalice, the city that loves its Cubs, White Sox and Da Bears went crazy for Da Blackhawks.
Cars honked their horns all over the city, fans flooded into the streets near Wrigley Field and United Center and inside Joe's -- the official Hawks' road watch party headquarters -- strangers hugged, high-fived and "Do-do-do'ed" to the sounds of "Chelsea Dagger" several times over.
"I've been watching this team for years, and this is just unbelievable," said Brian Farley, 25, of Chicago. "Just seeing Jonathan Toews lifting that Cup over his head and (Marian) Hossa ... it's just unbelievable. They're an awesome group of guys to watch."
Farley, who proudly wore a signed No. 48 David Koci Hawks jersey that his aunt won a few years ago, won double on the game. He also had a side bet there would be more than five goals scored in Game 6.
Another Hawks sweater stood out on the patio, where Naperville residents Amanda Pociask, 23, and Erin Parker, 26, stood with hundreds of others whose eyes were riveted to a large projection screen of the game on the wall of a building.
Pociask wore her father's youth league "Hawks" No. 10 sweater, which was an actual wool sweater with the famed Indian head logo faded on the front. It looked straight out of 1961, in fact.
"It's not a Patrick Sharp sweater, it's not a Tony Amonte sweater," she said, running through a list of Hawks who've worn No.10 on their backs. "It's my dad's and it's been down in my basement with a lot of other old sports equipment."
Pociask actually limped her way to the bar and stood in line outside in a long line to get reservations -- all while wearing a brace for a sprained knee under her jeans.
"I had to come out here because my girl here got this table for us," Parker said, laughing.
Chicago resident George Cazarez, 41, stood in that same line outside of Joe's -- where Hawks' PA announcer Gene Honda announced each goal like he was working at the United Center and the Hawks' Ice Crew conducted the 50-50 raffle.
Cazarez, like other die-hard fans, just wanted to be around other Hawks fans to watch them potentially clinch the Cup. Just one thing set him apart -- the fact he was wearing a goalie mask that was painted the way Eddie Belfour used to wear his for the Hawks.
Cazarez used to play goalie for his middle school and high school teams in Chicago, but grew up on the South Side as one of the only Blackhawks/hockey fans in his predominantly Hispanic neighborhood -- which he said preferred baseball and basketball.
As for wearing the goalie mask to the bar?
Turns out it was actually a step down from what he does at home when he watched Hawks playoff games with his kids in his living room.
"At home I wear the whole goalie outfit -- pads, stick and everything," he said. "I sit on my couch in my gear and watch the games. My kids love it."
Cazarez also brought his goalie stick to the bar, but couldn't bring it inside once he got to the front of the line, so he had his wife take it home on her way back.
Rod LaFleur was a tad more subtle with his Hawks story. Underneath his Hawks jersey was a T-shirt that he designed -- and of which only 10 exist so far. It's a crass shirt, sort of along the lines of those Calvin & Hobbes bumper stickers you see on the back of pickup trucks -- only Calvin is actually the Indian head logo wearing a playoff beard and wearing a Hawks jersey with "DKMT" where the name should be.
It stands for "Duncan Keith's Missing Teeth," which is the name of the Facebook group that LaFleur -- a former collegiate hockey player at Northern Michigan University -- started. The group now has 6,575 members and counting.
"I saw they had a group for LeBron James' elbow," LaFleur said. "So I figured, ‘We need one for Duncan Keith's missing teeth.' I just started it, promoted it a little and it's taken off."
LaFleur, a native of Menominee, Mich., said he didn't really favor any NHL teams when he was younger. But after living in Chicago since 1991, he's a Hawks backer.
"This is just awesome to see this whole scene," he said. "After winning a national title with Northern Michigan, and now seeing the Stanley Cup come to Chicago ... it's just awesome."
Down the street from Joe's, three guys stood together high-fiving passers-by before they headed underground for their shift of work until 4 a.m.
Construction workers Gene Surico, of Elburn, Ill., Pablo Vargas, of Chicago and Scott Bodeman, of Deerfield, Ill., each listened to the end of Game 6 on the radio while driving to work. Before starting their shift, they were taking in the scene of honking cars and happy Hawks fans, stopping briefly to celebrate with them.
"This is just such a fun team to watch and root for," said Surico, who used to work at the United Center for eight years in the 1990s and saw three of the Bulls' NBA titles in person. "I have to be honest with you. I never thought I'd see this happen in my lifetime ... but then again, I never thought I'd live to see a black president either. But that happened and now this happened. It's pretty amazing."
Author: Brian Hedger | NHL.com Correspondent