It doesn't have quite the same ring to it as "A Christmas Story" but it will have to do for now. There really isn't an easy way to put into words the tale of the Chicago Blackhawks' Thanksgiving. In a world where the media and the folks who digest the content media produces have a penchant for the negative and controversial, this story about the Blackhawks is one that needs to be written about. All too often you can turn on the television or open a newspaper and see images of war, murder or worse. All too often we write and talk about people like Sean Avery until we're blue in the face. That's why today, we've got something a bit more heart warming.
The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the youngest teams in the NHL and they're on the up and up. They have made the playoffs once since 1997 and that was in 2002, when many of the guys on this team were still in school. The Hawks have an average age of 25.5 years, lowest in the league. However, in a story first written about (to my knowledge) on DeadSpin last night, they showed compassion beyond their years. I apologize for largely paraphrasing this story, but it's really not something that needs to be re-worded or given a new "spin." It simply needs to be read and taken for what it is.
Last month, the Hawks had six straight road games sandwiched around the Thanksgiving holiday. They went from Phoenix to Dallas to Toronto (nice travel agent), then had three days off before heading out for a California swing. That three-day break was their only chance to get home before the holiday, and the team had arranged for a commercial flight to take the players back to Chicago right after their game against the Leafs on Saturday night. General Manager Dale Tallon was staying behind, to attend his father's funeral in rural Ontario. Take it away, crazy anonymous emailer.
"This plane departs on schedule, but without a single member of the hockey team. Back in the locker room a vote is taken after the game was complete, and a unanimous decision is made by this young team to skip this flight and stay one more day. They make arrangements to check back in the hotel and on a frozen Sunday morning charter two buses that have no heat and begin a journey two hours straight north into a sparsely inhabited Canada , but where hockey is its passion. They arrive at their destination to the surprise of the teams general manager who is there attending his fathers wake.
After a few emotional hours, this team boards the buses and heads back for a two-hour trip back to Toronto . On the way they ask the drivers to stop in a tiny Canadian town because they are hungry. To the shock of the patrons and workers at this small hockey town McDonald's, a professional team walks out of two rickety buses and into the restaurant, which just happens to have pictures of two members of this team on its wall. The patrons know every single one of these players by sight being Fanatic fans of hockey in these parts. One can only imagine their amazement of the locals seeing and the entire professional hockey team sit down and have a meal in their tiny little town in the middle of a hockey season. After a while they board the buses and catch their same flight 24 hours later, giving one day to their general manager."
Who says professional athletes are out of touch? Well, at the very least, the Chicago Blackhawks aren't.