Corey Crawford, the Bard of Châteauguay, Quebec, likely will have a few words to say during the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup rally Thursday.
You might recall the goalie’s eloquent speech from the 2013 title rally. At the time, I couldn’t decide if he reminded me of Winston Churchill or Patrick Henry. All I know is that neither of those fine orators are the YouTube star that Crawford became that day, thanks to this loaded statement on live local television:
“F****** right, Chicago! Biggest bunch of beauties in the league, f****** worked their n*** off for this trophy! Wooo! No one will ever take this away from us! We’re the champs!”
Crawford said Wednesday that he’d spend more time gathering his thoughts before this year’s rally than he did the last one. He certainly spent a lot of time “getting ready’’ before the 2013 edition.
“I’ll probably be a little bit more prepared this time, a little more professional, I think,’’ he said with a smile Wednesday at the United Center. “For all the mothers out there that are going to be cringing when I get up there, I’ll be good.’’
It’s good to be the king, and Crawford and the Hawks certainly are that these days. They will be treated as such while they make their way along a downtown parade route Thursday atop double-decker buses. Three Stanley Cups in six seasons have not taken the thrill out of the celebrations for the players or the parade-goers.
Hawks forward Brad Richards won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004. He figures Chicago “is a little more fired up’’ than Tampa was 11 years ago. If by “ a little more fired up,’’ he means “delirious, sleep deprived and quite possibly fermented’’ then, yes, Chicago is a little more fired up.
“Going to Wrigley and going around to different places (with the Cup on Tuesday) was pretty amazing,’’ he said. “I can’t wait to see the parade.’’
Those of you going to Thursday’s festivities have three duties:
Appreciate to the fullest that you live in a city with a hockey team that is the envy of all professional sports franchises.
Remember how arduous this season was, with all its ups and downs, and realize how sweet this championship is because of it.
And for goodness’ sake, forget about the salary cap, would you?
One of the unfortunate, unavoidable things about modern-day sports is the business end of it. And so, not 30 minutes after the Hawks won the Cup on Monday night, players were answering questions on the ice about their own or teammates’ impending departures because of salary cap issues.
What’s more romantic than a newspaper story that starts, “Against a background of screaming fans at the United Center, with players taking turns hoisting the Stanley Cup above their heads, Patrick Sharp pondered the Hawks’ estimated total ceiling space for next season.’’?
It’s not anyone’s fault — not reporters’ for covering all the angles, not general manager Stan Bowman’s for having to see the bigger picture and not players’ for acknowledging the obvious, that the Hawks will look different next season.
But it would be nice to live in the bubble of this accomplishment for a few days without reality finding a point of entry.
Don’t let the salary cap rain on your parade Thursday.
“We should be talking about what a game it was a couple nights ago and the fun we’re having and … six years, three Cups,’’ Sharp said. “It’s a pretty special accomplishment.’’
There’s a close bond between the Hawks and their fans. You can see it when the two sides interact while the Cup is on tour. Some superstars are untouchable. The Hawks are touchable, reachable and amenable to just about anything.
“It’s pretty cool,’’ captain Jonathan Toews said. “It’s great to see how the game of hockey and the Blackhawks can bring an entire city together and create such a great sense of energy.
“… The coolest thing is to really have the city on your back for a couple months, everybody’s part of the ride and you finally deliver on your promise and everybody’s really excited, celebrating and joyous.’’
We can’t know what it means to have our name on the Cup. For players, especially Canadian players, it borders on the religious.
“It’s hard to explain,’’ Crawford said. “A kid growing up, that’s all we did back home was live hockey. It was a dream since I was a kid, so it’s pretty special.’’
That sounds like a good speech for Thursday’s rally. Teammates, nonetheless, are on high alert.
“Keep an eye on Crawford,’’ Sharp said. “Put a muzzle on him or something like that.’’