As sad as it is for me to say, the Chicago Blackhawks will not be back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. For those of us who are die-hard sports fans, this tragedy comes with the territory. We’ve all experienced losses at various points of the season and each loss may mean something different, but when you get so close to winning it all, you can’t help but feel crushed when you can’t reach the ultimate goal.
For some teams, losing is the norm. The Chicago Cubs, the Detroit Lions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, these are all teams (amongst many others) for which losing comes with the territory of being a fan. Luckily for me, I’m only a fan of one of these perennial losers, but that makes it even harder when a good team loses after they get so close. The Cubs, the aforementioned perennial loser, got so close in 2003 before imploding at the end of the NLCS against the Marlins (do not blame Bartman, please). Last night, the Blackhawks, after coming back from a three games to one deficit, fell in overtime and failed to reach the Cup finals for a second straight season. While these were both painful to me, I have a story for you about the worst loss for a team that was so close to reaching the big game to me, as a fan.
2007 was an amazing year for the Green Bay Packers. There had been a couple of years of Brett Favre retirement speculation to this point, but he was back for another year, and he looked rejuvenated. He threw for his most yards and touchdowns since 2004, his fewest interceptions since 2001 and his highest passer rating since his MVP-winning season of 1996. The team went 13-3, they looked so good all season, and I thought if anyone was going to take down the undefeated Patriots, it was going to be the Packers that season. But then, with temperatures below zero in Green Bay, the Packers took on the New York Giants. The Packers were down during the second half before tying it up in the fourth quarter and the game headed to overtime. Just after the overtime period started, Brett Favre was intercepted by Corey Webster, the Giants kicked a field goal and they would go on to upset the Patriots and become Super Bowl champions. I still believe to this day that the only two teams that could have beaten the Patriots that year were the Giants and the Packers.
I was heartbroken. Brett Favre was my hero. I knew his career was winding down, and I knew he may not be coming back, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that his potential (and that would later be confirmed to be) last pass as a Packer. How could that possibly happen? That was our year! This was immediately what came to my mind when the Los Angeles Kings scored last night. And to some kid, Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane is their hero; their Brett Favre.
Losing is a part of sports, something we all have to deal with. It hurts the most when a loss comes after such a great season and your team got so close to becoming the champions, or at least to getting at the championship. But things get better. For my Packers, it took a few years, but they won Super Bowl 45 3 years later. The Blackhawks, while they won’t be the champions, are still one of the best teams in the NHL and as long as they have Toews, Kane, Keith, etc, they will be back. It hurts now but the team will get back. My point today is that as fans, we have to deal with these tough losses, but even so, there is still success on the horizon, and it certainly isn’t unattainable.