Fans celebrate the Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory on Madison Street, Monday… (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago…)
On the night the Blackhawks scored two goals in 17 seconds to win the 2013 Stanley Cup, I experienced my first mugging about 30 feet away from my apartment.
All things considered, that wasn’t the worst part of my night.
After all, as armed robberies go, this one was as non-confrontational as they get. Not to mention that I am a terrible candidate for a robbery target: this gentleman’s entire score was a 3G Droid with a faulty camera, $5 in cash, and one debit card that accesses the checking account of a journalist. You’re better off robbing a pizza delivery driver.
No, the night’s low point came a few hours before the robbery, when I failed to see the game-tying and series-winning goals.
Earlier in the day, I’d headed to O’Hare with my friend Rob to see him off on his return flight to San Francisco. But the flight was delayed two and a half hours, so we kicked it in the Hilton hotel bar until his departure. I watched the first period at the bar and then took the Blue Line back to Wicker Park.
When I got back to the neighborhood, the game was in the second intermission. Rather than going to a bar, I went home to finish some work that was derailed by the delayed flight. Since I don’t have cable, I figured I would just watch the game on a bootleg web feed and then head right back to the neighborhood if the Hawks won.
But the web feed was choppy, so I kept an eye on the score on espn.com as I did my work.
After Game 1, I figured this series would go the distance. And when Milan Lucic scored to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead, my seven-game series intuition seemed accurate. I kept refreshing the browser: 2-1 Bruins, seven minutes left … 2-1 Bruins, six minutes left … 2-1 Bruins, four minutes left … 2-1 Bruins, two minutes left … “Well,” I thought to myself, “that’s gonna do it.” I hit refresh again: 3-2 Blackhawks, 40 seconds left …
Now, if there is an upside to missing one of the greatest moments in Chicago sports history, it’s that it proves just how NON-bandwagon I truly am. I would never miss an analogous moment for the Bulls or Bears. While I have always rooted for the Blackhawks, they have never been my team because hockey has never been my sport. I took a certain amount of pride in that distinction.
In retrospect, that was probably just the shock talking: I was downright dumbfounded in having missed one of the seminal moments in Chicago sports history. I snapped myself free of my philosophical daze, grabbed my wallet, my phone and my keys and darted out the door. Already the sounds of chaos were building: cheers booming out of homes, fireworks exploding, cars honking. “I missed it!” I kept thinking. “How the hell did I miss it? And what even happened??”
People were pouring out of the bars. I staggered over to the 6 Corners Sports Bar on North Avenue and stood outside the windows with a pack of police officers and civilians, all of us watching the Hawks celebrate on the Boston ice. 6 Corners was blasting “We Are the Champions,” and fans were chanting “M-V-P!” for Patrick Kane, who was accepting the Conn Smythe trophy.
I was flabbergasted. I stepped into the parking lot across the street from Santullo’s and called my girl. “I missed it!” I shouted to her in disbelief. I got a text from my dad: “No Game 7 like you thought, but it was all worth it. How about that game?” I called my folks and told them the bad news.
As we talked, I saw a friend-- the rapper Que Billah--walking up North Avenue. “I missed it!” I said to him as we shook hands.
“I did too!” he said, equally shocked. “I was in the car on some whole other shit, heading to the studio. All of a sudden I heard people cheering. I figured, ‘Oh, I guess the Hawks won.’ Then I drove a bit more and--bam--more cheering! I was like, ‘Damn, why are they cheering again?’ ”
He was heading into 6 Corners, and I joined him for a drink. On TV were helicopter shots of the madness in Wrigleyville, Clark Street choked with people in red shirts like the CPS protests times 50. Suddenly I realized that 6 Corners had thinned out, and I went outside and saw that the North-Damen-Milwaukee intersection was now overrun with revelers, just as it had been in 2010. Traffic was frozen in all directions. A 72 bus was stopped in front of SubT, and a Papa John’s truck was stuck trying to go south on Damen.