Tonight the Blackhawks return to the United Center in search of their lost playoff magic. After storming out to back-to-back victories to take a 2-0 series lead, the Hawks dropped two straight in Philly. The series is now a best of three, with the Hawks hoping they can play at home like they used to play on the road.
Yet, this futility and frustration is nothing new for Chicago. Championships don't come easy around these parts, but, as a fan I can confidently say I wouldn't have it any other way.
If any city knows sports related pain, it's Chicago. We've experienced droughts the likes of which few other cities can claim. Baseball? Eighty-eight years and 101 years (and counting). Hockey? Forty-nine years. Football? Twenty-three. Even our local college teams haven't won in 59 years (national championship) or 61 years (bowl victory... any bowl victory).
And when we actually make it to the playoffs? We've been trampled. We've been swept. We've been cursed. And most of the time, we've just plain sucked.
Thing is, sometimes we do it. Sometimes we overcome all of the history and we just win. And when we do, boy do we know how to celebrate. That's why we show up year after year, despite all the pain and heartbreak. Because the victories when they come are worth all of our frustrations a million times over. In Chicago, because we aren't perennial winners, every championship is savored and cherished. We remember late nights in '98 as MJ made the shot, and streaking in '05 after a World Series sweep. The victories become part of us, part of our identity as Chicagoans, as much as any alteration of grammar or artery clogging meal.
So, Hawks fans, don't despair. Because when we win (and we WILL win), the frustration in this final will make it all the sweeter.