Where were you when the Blackhawks made the playoffs in 2020?

Remembering that magical moment when the mediocre Hawks shocked the world.

SHARE Where were you when the Blackhawks made the playoffs in 2020?
Patrick Kane (left) and Duncan Keith celebrate a goal by Keith against the Blues in February.

Patrick Kane (left) and Duncan Keith celebrate a goal by Keith against the Blues in February.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Years from now, you’ll remember where you were when the news broke that the Blackhawks had made the playoffs in 2020.

You’ll be able to tell your grandchildren about it:

I was sitting all alone inside a desolate house, contemplating sports and God and why the fruit is on the bottom in some yogurt cups, when my friend Steve texted me.

Are you sitting down?

I texted back: There’s a pandemic. I’ve been sitting for 15 straight hours with nothing to do except watch my hair grow and reminisce about the Alpo Suhonen era. Also, how else are you supposed to sit besides down? Up?

There was a very long gap between texts, maybe 20 minutes. I think Steve was upset at how I had used my incredible command of the language as a cudgel. But then, finally, stunningly, a gift from above.

The Hawks are in the playoffs!!!

How can this be? I asked myself. The Hawks were, like, 10,000 points out of the last playoff spot when the season was shut down in March because of the coronavirus outbreak. I kicked myself for using the extraneous word ‘‘like’’ in the previous sentence.

Steve, have you started in on the brandy-infused chocolate candy again? I thought we talked about that. About the need for a hobby and some exercise during the pandemic. Nothing wrong with regular showering, either.

Steve proceeded to tell me that, no, I had it all wrong. The NHL had just released a plan that would eliminate the rest of the regular season in 2020 and go directly into the playoffs. Twenty-four of the 31 teams would take part in the postseason, meaning that the mediocre Hawks were in. And, Steve said, you know what that means.

Another Stanley Cup parade in Chicago?! I texted.

My phone rang. I almost jumped out of my chair, silence having been my live-in partner for so long. It was Steve.

“Hold it, Grandpa,’’ your granddaughter will say. “Where was Grandma? It couldn’t have been quiet with her around.’’

“Funny story about that, Kitty. The pandemic forced many people to work from home, which forced married couples to spend lots of time together. Possibly too much time. As it turned out, your grandma didn’t care for replays of old Bulls games as much as she thought she would. As she walked out, suitcase in hand, she said she was calling a ‘full timeout’ on our relationship. The slamming of the door made it difficult to catch the rest of what she was saying, but I thought I heard a mention of her sister’s house. She eventually came back.’’

“Was that during the time when Gunnar was around, Grandpa? Every now and then, Grandma still gets a dreamy look in her eye and murmurs something about ‘my Top Gun.’ ’’

“We’re not talking about him. Anyway, the Hawks. In the playoffs. Remember? The phone rang. It was Steve.’’

“We’re going all the way!’’ Steve said. “We’re going to shock the world! One more time with Kaner, Tazer, Duncs and Crow! A fourth Cup!’’

His words were a bit slurred, and I wondered if he had moved on to the hard stuff, rum cake, which was how it usually went when he was on a bender. But I didn’t care. And I really didn’t care if the Hawks were in the playoffs or in an off-Broadway production of “Hairspray.’’ After months of no sports because of COVID-19, they were going to play hockey. That’s all I cared about.

“Finally, we can watch a real, live game on TV,’’ I said. “All these weeks of watching replays of UFC fights. And I don’t even like mixed-martial arts. Oh, to see the Hawks jumping over the boards again, this time at a responsible distance from one another! Glory, glory, hallelujah!’’

“Well, hold on a second,’’ Steve said, sober as a minister’s admonition.

What now? I couldn’t hold on for a second longer. I needed sports, immediately.

“It’s still tentative,’’ Steve said. “League officials and players are still figuring out how to put on games safely. That means more questions and more discussion about practice, testing, quarantines, travel and other concerns. The season probably won’t start, if it starts, until mid-July.’’

I almost started crying. Here it was, late May, and I’d have to wait another month and a half to watch a game? The previous 10 weeks had been a complete tease in the world of sports. Every week, MLB seemed to leak a different plan for returning to play. First, the season would start in mid-May, we were told. Then it was June 1, and the games would be played in Arizona. Then it was Arizona, Texas and Florida. Then it was early July, somewhere. And now MLB and the players’ union were squabbling over money.

“Why must they torture us so?’’ I said, perhaps a bit too dramatically.

But this plan, not yet fully formed, would have to do. Something was better than nothing. That was the only way to look at it, the only way to survive emotionally. There was hope.

“Did the NHL get back to action, Grandpa?’’ Kitty said. “Did the Hawks win the Stanley Cup?’’

I smiled. I mentioned the joy of watching hockey again. The little things. A hip check. A one-timer. Right after I mentioned the term “man advantage,’’ a lament came from the other room. A strangled sob.

“Gunnar’’ is all I heard.

“Let’s finish the story another time,’’ I said. “Somebody’s about to get a game misconduct.’’

The Latest
Candace Parker reached another career milestone, becoming the fifth player in WNBA history with 600 career blocks.
The nearly 500 protesters also put tape over their mouths as a silent protest against social media’s “sensitive content” tag they say is being used to block news stories of Russian acts of terror.
A new report lays bare how far our state has to go since the disruption caused by COVID-19.
The boy was arrested moments after allegedly trying to take a vehicle from a man Saturday in the 3800 block of West Arthington Street.
“Let me put it this way,” Krishnamoorthi said Sunday. “I think that the Prime Minister of Japan said he gets a lot of advice from Rahm Emanuel directly.”