I had a column all written and ready to go for today, but I’m writing this on Monday morning, which means last night I watched as my beloved Chicago Blackhawks were eliminated from this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. So the already-written column will wait while I talk about that for a minute.
I grew up in a hockey family. My dad is a Hawks super-fan who has had season tickets since the days when Blackhawks tickets were not in demand. Once upon a time, a ticket would get you in the door, then you could pretty much sit where you wanted because the stadium was so empty.
Now they sell standing room at the bars. But that’s not the point.
Despite that facet of my upbringing, I wasn’t much of a hockey fan as a kid. It was the 90s, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were on fire, and I dove into my mom’s sport of choice, NBA basketball.
As an adult, the family’s interest in basketball started to wane, and watching the Hawks game began to become a bonding experience with my dad – even if we weren’t watching games together, keeping up on the team gave us just one more reason to call each other up.
And then, of course, the team got good. Really good. And as I’m sure most sports fans can tell you, the better your team is, the more fun it becomes to cheer for them.
I even roped in my husband, who did not grow up on a hockey diet, but after a while had to admit the game’s pace and athleticism make it fun to watch.
Now that the season is at an end, it seemed like a good time to reflect on some lessons the Blackhawks have imparted over the last few months:
• Be nimble. Speed and skill are better than brute force.
• Stay calm. Rattled people make mistakes. Even when you’re behind, focus on what’s happening right now, not what just happened or what might happen.
• Keep it clean. Take the high road and earn a reputation for honest work. But...
• When you’re pushed, push back. You can have integrity without being a doormat.
• If you focus on one game at a time, the season will take care of itself.
• Be flexible. Whatever your position, be prepared to take advantage of an opportunity to put your team ahead.
• Be confident, not cocky. Cockiness is expecting to win because of who you are. Confidence is knowing what you can do because you’ve worked hard and been tested.
• Work hard and keep your head high, regardless of the outcome. If you’re going to be eliminated, there’s no shame in going out in overtime in the last game of a seven-game series.
Enjoy the off-season, and enjoy your MidWeek.