Remembering A Franchise Reborn

It was five years ago tonight, thought it seems so much longer, and in fact in about an hour and a half it’ll be to the minute when the Blackhawks franchise and fandom was truly reborn. At least it was to me.

If you were there, you remember. It was December 23rd, 2007. It was a bitterly cold Sunday, and the Bears had won a pretty terrible football game earlier in the day, just as they have today. One of those Chicago winter nights where the wind felt like it was tearing off your skin.

The Hawks were hosting the Oilers. The previous night they had beat the defending Eastern Conference champion Ottawa Senators on a Jonathan Toews OT goal, and this was the weekend where it felt like the Hawks were announcing their relevance again.

The actual game doesn’t matter all that much. The Hawks won 3-2 as Brent Seabrook had two goals to cancel out Dustin Penner’s two goals. Patrick Sharp added the middle Hawks goal. It was the usual full house around Christmas, as the Hawks always had good crowds during the holidays, even when they were awful.

But something was different in the UC that night. Maybe it started before. Maybe it started as the place was shaking as Nikolai Khabibulin turned away a furious Oilers flurry in the last minute to preserve the win. Or maybe it was when Martin LaPointe led the Hawks back out from the tunnel for the first salute to the fans after a win.

But you could physically feel a change in the feeling around the Hawks. Sure, Toews and Kane were already turning heads well before this game. The Old Man had kicked it, Rocky had already hired John McDonough, home games were on TV (though sporadically). The shackles were being loosened.

But it was on this night that it felt like the Hawks and their fans broke free from it all. It felt like both sides were ready to come together, to realize that it was different now and it was good to be a Hawks fan again. That curtain call felt like the players and fans melding to once and for all wash away the bitterness and missteps of the past.

I suppose that night is what planted the seed for me to come home and start The Indian. I guess that makes it night that set us all on the path to be here now. It was certainly the night when the Hawks were again part of the Chicago sports scene.

Even with the misery and anger of the current situation, it’s moments and memories like this that #TheThumbDicks And #TheChildren can’t touch. We get to keep these, even if they are never added to.

But I’d like more. You would too. Because nights like December 23rd, 2007 are too valuable to piss away.

Merry Christmas to all of you, from the Triumvirate. Have a happy and safe holiday.

  • adelfiacco10

    I don’t remember much of that game, sadly, but I do remember the Bears game. Coldest I’ve ever felt in my life.

  • And Merry Holidays to you, Sam, and to McClure and Killion. And to the CI crowd, of course, to the cranks and gentle people both. And here’s to a hockey-relevant New Year.

  • BigCSouthside

    Happy (insert whatever the fuck you celebrate here) to all. Hopefully we get more of those memories soon.

  • Fansince60

    I was at a Christmas party here in Ottawa and friends and family couldn’t understand why I was watching the game on TV and raving about the game that December 22nd and what it meant to the Hawks. I have always said that it was the turning point in the modern day team.

  • DaveM36

    Oh man, Sam, thank you for bringing this memory back into my mind. One of my favorite nights a Hawks’ fan.

    I was home for college and convinced my dad to take the whole family (6 of us altogether) to a game with the caveat that all students could get tickets for $10 with IDs presented.

    Got to the game and those seats had already sold out, so my dad ended up paying way more than expected. Thankfully the proximity to Christmas had him and the rest of us in a great mood.

    You’re right, there was certainly a different feel in the stadium that night. Unlike anything I’d ever experienced, starting from the moment I got into the rink and reaching a zenith at The Anthem.

    Coolest part of that game was afterwards, however. Crowd was still going bonkers long after the final horn and the players came back on the ice for, if I recall correctly, was the origin of the UC post-game crowd salute. They then started tossing sticks, gloves, and other items into the crowd all over ice. It was amazing.

    Still got the ticket stub. That was the night that convinced me the Hawks were back. Goosebumps, just thinking about it.

    • Plecomanrl

      Ditto on the goosebumps!

  • AirTrafficAJ

    I remember this game fondly. We had a 13-game ticket plan that year, and this one just happened to be one of the 13. I had just gotten back from North Dakota the previous year from school, and knew what Toews was going to mean to this team, so I convinced my somewhat skeptical family to go in with me. Leaving the UC that night, my dad turned and said “looks like you were right”.

    God Damn was I ever.

    Happy Holidays, you filthy animals!

  • Hard to believe it’s been 5 years since that night. Slow down father time, it’s a travesty to waste such a talented core.

    Hoping for Blackhawks hockey in the new year, for obvious reasons, but also so that Sam can get rolling again. Not many people get to do what they love for a living. Not sure I can fully empathize with how difficult it must be to have that taken away. Hang in there, Sam. Maybe you can sell fan programs at the UC for NBA games in the meantime? “The Bull Sheet: The Real Fan’s #2 Program.” (swidt?)

    The holidays is a time of hope, or so I’ve been told, so I’ll leave y’all with this…

    I have word from my sources that all this lockout bullsheet (ahem) will get sorted out in the next 2 1/2 weeks. OK I lied, I have no sources (duh), but I ran a statistical regression analysis which predicted this all gets resolved on Jan 10th, with a +/-2 days margin of error. It also concluded that Ray Emery still sucks, so it appears to be extremely accurate.

    Happy Holidays all! (even you BigC)

    • laaarmer

      I need a chart. It’s the least you can do for ME at the holidays

    • StealingHappyHour

      “Slow down father time, it’s a travesty to waste such a talented core”
      Father time isn’t alone in the wasting of the core.

  • laaarmer

    I have decided to give Fat Tire a try today/tonight. I here all the time how great it is. We’ll see how it compares to me beloved Miller Lite.

    At least one, maybe several of these beers will be poured in honor of Badgerdano. I miss his bullshit.

  • krome

    laaarmer – if Miller Lite is your beloved, you may not like Fat Tire. Fat Tire is good beer (with full beer flavor). You may have to cut the Fat Tire at a 1:5 ratio with water (or horse urine) to make it anywhere close to Miller Lite.
    Fat Tire’s maker, New Belgium Brewing, has one of the most sustainable/low ecological footprint industrial plants in the world. I am not a real fanatic about such things (all I care about is how good the beer is), but I was very impressed.

    • Accipiter

      Waylon !!

    • laaarmer

      I give the Fat Tire a pass. It was OK. New Holland Sundog may taste better, but I would have to do a comparison. Since I bought 2 six’s od Fat Tire, I can get some Sundog and do a test. I also bought some Stella at the same time. So, Beer snobs, tel me why you would pay for Stella, when it might as well be Budweiser or Miller?

      Krome. What is wrong with Miller Lite? It is what it is. Cold beer.

  • happyhuman

    Merry Christmas, everybody.

  • Thought I’d take a moment to stop by and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Even though our own “family gatherings/group meetings” are on a relative hiatus to some degree, I still try to stop on by on occasion to see what is going on with everyone.

    So, I wish you all a Merry Christmas. I hope that the new year brings you whatever it is that you hope for and that eventually, we get to see some NHL hockey being played again at some point in time.

  • StealingHappyHour

    That was probably the last time the Bears beat the Packers.