Baffoe: Seventeen Seconds – A Measure Of A Champion
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Time slips away
And the light begins to fade
And everything is quiet now
Feeling is gone
And the picture disappears
And everything is cold now
The dream had to end
The wish never came true
And the girl
Starts to sing
A measure of life
-“Seventeen Seconds” by The Cure
By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Time indeed was slipping away late in the third period of Game 6.
Less than a minute and a half remained, and the internal light of immediate championship hopes was fading from Chicago Blackhawks fans as they watched their favorite team do the panicky hockey thing when losing by one goal. Like watching a submerged animal struggle for air, and the watchers themselves can’t breathe any more than resigned exhalation.
Everything was quiet as the seconds grew slimmer. That feeling that nobody quite knew yet, it was gone. These were Blackhawks fans after all. To call the fanbase a glass-half-empty one would be an insult to emptiness. More like swallowed, the glass broken, and the shards used to let blood. It’s a masochistic group to say the least.
The picture of the team crammed together around Lord Stanley’s Cup, a few sprawled on the ice, many with fingers raised in superiority, was being put on ice and, if fans were honest with themselves, not going to happen a game later either. Everything was cold now except the ice at TD Garden. The dream had to end. The wish was not going to come true, no matter how favored the Hawks would be at home in Game 7.
The girl, that large lady whose sweet music is most pleasant to the victors and terribly bitter to a Presidents’ Trophy confronted with the prospect of regular season accolades becoming mere trivia, started to sing.
But as though hitting a bump in the chunky Boston ice, her record skipped.
In seventeen seconds, history happened. The hockeyest hockey that ever hockeyed in hockey happened.
It took seventeen whirlwind seconds to change everything. To have fans—hell, players—look at each other and ask, “Did that just happen?” To make a song’s lyrics mean something totally different.
Seventeen seconds, and suddenly fifty-something seconds were in our favor, and our grins grew wider as that time slipped away, and they grew to Slim Pickens hoots and hat waves as the red light faded from two goals that leveled New England. Nothing was quiet, save that desire to place the cyanide under the tongue seventeen seconds ago. That feeling was gone.
Seventeen seconds, and a savage hero born of the playoffs gave his team new life before The Rat was allowed to sneak away with the cheese and ensure he would not be one of the seasons’ goats. The picture had reappeared. Nothing was cold now but the Chicago tavern bottles clanging in stunned newfound fortune.
Seventeen seconds to let John Wiedeman do what he does best. To crash through the massive wall of sadness and worry we were all stuck behind with a few booming goal calls that even he would tell you he wasn’t ready to make. The nightmare was ending, and the wish was coming true after it had been doused in kerosene and had our collective struck match hovering above it barely still held between two bitter quaking fingers.
Seventeen seconds to take one team pulling its goalie to the other team forced to do the same. Tuukka Rask skating to the bench along with all the hearts and stomachs and maybe colons of Bruins fans that had been ejected from their bodies.
Seventeen seconds made a kid with a freshly crimson zipper on his face this year’s toothy sacrifice, and not a sane person begrudged him some hard-earned cathartic cursing after being handed the prize. They brought out The Captain to claim glory for his teammates, to ring the victory bell after having his bell rung.
Those seconds validated a guy who had six million psychiatrists diagnosing and doubting all season and playoffs. A guy who was the MVP of the playoffs regardless of who was credited with the hardware and who deserved to hold and kiss the Cup more than anybody in the room.
And the Cup. “It means nothing without the cup.” A mantra we heard all of 2013. Damn the record start and regular season points and the buzz and the hype. All for naught without the Cup. And naught was very much in the lead Monday night.
But then seventeen seconds happened.
And those seventeen seconds birthed a champion from the jaws of sure defeat. They made hockey just the coolest damn thing in the world, if only for a short period of time to the rest of the country and the world, but a hell of a lot longer in the Windy City. They created a story that a crowd of idiots couldn’t spoil, nor could a singular clown, one finally exposed nationally what Chicago already knew about him.
We ran the gamut of practically every emotion humanly possible, and it was all in seventeen seconds.
Seventeen seconds. A measure of life.
A measure of a champion.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa before earning his degree from Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @TimBaffoe , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.