So it's nearly five AM on a Thursday morning and I've got work in three hours.. but I'm still there, watching family and friends on the ice, watching tears in the studio, listening to Duncan Keith's brand new speech impediment.. magical.
Early Mornings and Incomprehension..
It's tough being a hockey fan in the UK:
1) No-one really cares about it
2) Hard to find TV coverage unless you have big-mama cable package
3) games are on at ass-o'clock GMT
But this season has been worth every 'bleary eyes because I've been yelling at a screen until four AM' morning in work. It's been worth all the illegal streaming and the obsessive following of NHL.Com and Committed Indian. It's been worth all the blank looks from friends and colleagues as I rave about a shorthanded goal or a Niemi save.. "Antti Niemi? Didn't he used to play for Fulham?" (There is indeed a soccer goalie with the same name as everyone's favourite taciturn Finnish netminder)
That moment when Kaner scored I, like pretty much everyone else, missed it at first. I wondered where the hell Pat was going, then realised he was dumping helmet and stick and wondered why the buzzer hadn't sounded. Thank god NBC got us the goal replay quicker than the guys on the ice: you could see Toews and Hossa glancing back up the rink while nervously hugging people.. then all hell broke loose, not least in a darkened room in E17 of London.
I've never attended a game at United Center, hell I've never been to Chicago (which will change in the near future, all things being equal) but I'd like to think I enjoyed the moment as much as any of you guys. I've been the guy who's home-town sports team (In my case Munster Rugby from Limerick, Ireland) have overcome years of near misses and what-ifs to finally reach that pinnacle.. and it's the best feeling on earth. The years of adversity seem worth it because it makes the final release that much sweeter.
So, well done, 'Hawks. The obvious heroes: Kane, Toews, Hossa, Keith, Seabrook, Niemi, Buff, Coach Q.. and to Sharp, Bolland, Hjalmarsson, Eager, Sopel... hats off to you guys too. And we'll see you for the new season. Right now I'm going to watch me a replay of the final and pinch myself occasionally.
Can't wait for another season of fractured sleep and great hockey mornings (it's rarely Hockey Night here..)
Two in a row?
Let's get on it!