I've got my jersey and my playoff beard ready to go. Sure, the beard has been trimmed a couple times during the playoff run, but it's still there.
Norman's got his support showing.
I've got the support of fellow bloggers and Tweeters from all different areas such as Dave from Washington State, Sybil Law from Cincinnati, @hellohahanarf from Pittsburgh, and LeSombre from Ottawa, among many others. Chicagoist blogged that the Lincoln Park Zoo has weighed in. Dave even drew up a DaveToon showing support.
Yeah, I'm ready for those Stanley Cup Finals to begin tonight with my Chicago Blackhawks squaring off against the Philadelphia Flyers.
But I want to admit that while I've been a Blackhawks fan since moving to Chicago in 1987, something feels weird about it.
Throughout middle school and high school, I wore my fandom on my sleeve, literally, by wearing an old Blackhawks jersey to school every so often. I lived and loved Blackhawks hockey.
But I stopped following it for a while. Don't get me wrong, I never stopped liking the 'Hawks and being proud that they were my home team, but from the mid-90s until 2007, it was very difficult to be an active Blackhawks fan... a true and ardent supporter.
What a lot of you may not realize is that former Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz jacked up ticket prices and blacked out home games in the Chicago area. We couldn't watch our Hawks without dishing out a veritable fortune. And, considering they were playing like crap with some horrible personnel decisions being made, nobody was willing to dish out that small fortune.
I did go to a few games here and there, but they weren't nearly enough to whet my hockey whistle, as it were. And I wound up attending more games of our local AHL franchise, the Chicago Wolves, who, let's face it, were not only a much cheaper ticket, but a much more exciting and winning team.
I still longed for my Blackhawks to return to relevance or at least return to a place where I could watch them again on TV.
This moment came in 2007 when Bill Wirtz died and ownership of the team was taken over by his son, Rocky. The Rock experimented with a few home games being broadcast during the 2007-2008 season and he then went full bore having pretty much every home game broadcast on Comcast SportsNet or WGN or Versus. Combine this with some very intelligent personnel decisions and a very high degree of marketing and we finally saw real NHL-level hockey in Chicago again.
And my fandom returned to full-frenzy status.
Of course, that first full year of televised coverage saw the 'Hawks make it to the Western Conference Finals where they lost to the Detroit Red Wings (thank you, Pittsburgh, for beating up on them in the Stanley Cup for me). And, to me, I almost felt dirty because I once again began to be a fan during a season where they did really well. I felt almost like a bandwagoner, a fair-weather fan.
Is this feeling legit? Should I worry about this? It's not my fault I couldn't be a hardcore fan, right? I fully blame Bill Wirtz for taking that from me and yet I still feel like I should've been a better fan during those lean years. But how could I? I was either in college, or grad school, or newly married, or a recent homebuyer. I just couldn't afford to regularly attend 'Hawks games and I certainly couldn't watch them. I did attend a game every season or two. But the only other coverage I had was minimal at best in newspapers or on the evening news, and we all know how scant the reporting is on a team that plays like crap.
I'm not really fair-weather, am I? I'm simply a victim of circumstance, right? Please say no to the first and yes to the second.
This morning, after Katie left for work, I fell back in bed and watched The Empire Strikes Back. It's the first time in far too many years since I've seen the film. The first time I've watched it on an HDTV.
No, it's not the official DVD version that Lucas released with all the new footage added to it.
An old friend of mine took the THX-remastered laser discs and committed them to DVD several years ago and gave me copies of the entire original trilogy. I treasure these DVDs as they never have been and likely never will be available to the public. They're not perfect, sure, but I was pretty damned surprised at how good they looked on an HDTV, all things considered.
I love The Empire Strikes Back.