ESPNChicago.com writer Scoop Jackson is spending this week trying to prove that when it comes to sports, there is no city like Chicago.
Tuesday: Two things led me to the idea of picking this particular week, and using it to give a true documentation of what a week in the life of Chicago sports feels like:
1) Thursday. Strictly because the volume of activity happening in one city on one day is crazy, including the Bulls hosting the Heat and the Sox hosting the Orioles.
2) Game 3. Blackhawks versus Coyotes.
Here's the truth: The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs might be the best in all of sports. And while inside the United Center for the game as a working member of the media, it's literally impossible to act or stay objective. (The Blackhawks staff doesn't make it easy by laying red Blackhawk playoff rally towels atop every media member's game notes at their assigned seats.) With the first two games in the series being decided in overtime, there's an early sense of “Bulls/Celtics 2009” in the building.
Most of the talk throughout the UC before the puck dropped was of the “b.s.” (a term heard often in many fans conversations) behind Andrew Shaw's 3-game suspension for his hit on Coyote's goalie Mike Smith. So when Raffi Torres took Marian Hossa out, all anyone could wonder was whether or not the same punishment was going to be levied.
Most thought not. The general mentality among Hawks fans in the building: Us against the world.
Airport runway loud for most of the game, around the 3:30 mark of the third period the entire stadium dropped into a silence. ESPN 1000's Jonathan Hood said it was the sound of nervousness. The extreme quiet of 21,000 people's nerves on-end because they had a sense of how this was going to end.
And when it did, the UC became even quieter.
Walking from the Blackhawks locker room to the podium, Joel Quenneville had the look of a man who was sure of being unsure. In all of my years of covering sports, I can't say that I've ever seen that look on a coach's face. At the podium, the look disappeared, but what he was feeling didn't.
“The refs were a disgrace,” he said. "This one hurt.”
Then he left.
I stood in the corridor and watched the Blackhawks leader put his hands in his pockets as he walked away from all of us. As he did, I watched that look return to his face.