Jeremy Roenick Cries: Why Chicago Blackhawk Fans Love Him
He began his NHL career there. He got to the Stanley Cup there.
So for Jeremy Roenick to watch his former team take home Lord Stanley's Cup Wednesday night, there had to be a cavalcade of emotions going through J.R.'s mind.
The moment has sparked much talk today. Chicago fans feel like the teary-eyed moment on live TV endears Roenick even more to his original home.
Plenty of other hockey fans are feeling like Roenick stole the moment with his emotion.
We'll take the former rather than the latter approach here and show you why the emotion was so tip of tongue for the retired superstar Wednesday night.
There's No Crying In Hockey!
The moment was special for any Chicago Blackhawks fan. You wait 49 years to hoist the Stanley Cup; That's two generations worth of fans.
Roenick lived that passion for eight years. He began his NHL career with the Blackhawks, got to the Stanley Cup in 1992 with the team, and walked away empty.
That's what made the emotion all the more real coming from Roenick.
Thank Goodness for Mike Milbury
Roenick's fellow analyst Mike Milbury added a little lightness to the moment by saying, "Well, I didn't get to do it either but I'm not going to cry."
Milbury summed up the emotions, though he said with a smile that he's not going to cry.
"You had a hell of a 21-year career, bud. You got to that moment once. A guy who blocked shots with his nose."
A Fan Above All
Roenick has been a fan favorite for years because, at the core of his game, he's a fan.
He has told stories of growing up in New England and going to Whalers games. His favorite moment was when when Gordie Howe picked a pile of snow up off the ice and tossed it over the glass, on to a young Roenick's head.
"I thought that was the coolest thing that ever happened in my whole life, it took three seconds. It was me, Gordie Howe, and no one else...That moment stuck with me for years, and years, and years," Roenick said at his retirement press conference.
"It was little, it was small and it took nothing out of his power or time, but it resonated with me my whole life."
He said it explains why he tried to be as fan friendly as possible at every stop of his career.
"So, as a player, as I got older, I tried to reach out to fans, reach out to kids, whether on the ice or on the street on in a restaurant. I try to do little things where I can make the same impression on a young child that Gordie Howe made on me."
The Downside to Being So Open
Roenick's openness makes him a good quote and a good talking head, but it also has got him in plenty of hot water.
During the 2004-05 lockout, he addressed fans who think NHL players are spoiled by saying, "Kiss my ass." He later said that those fans who shared that view shouldn't watch the game on TV anymore.
He openly questioned why he was left off the 2006 Olympic squad and then questioned a number of selections on the 2010 Olympic team.
That seeming lack of a filter has caused a polarizing effect with hockey fans.
Flyers Fans Don't Have Happy Memories
The crying moment had Flyers fans raging on Twitter Wednesday night and Thursday morning, calling Roenick everything from a crybaby to a spoiled selfish diva.
It's hard to blame Philly fans though. Their last memory of Roenick was of a guy who forced the Flyers to pay him for injuries caused before the 2004-05 lockout. The collective bargaining agreement said that players injured before the lockout would be paid during the lockout.
Flyers doctors cleared Roenick from any signs of post-concussion syndrome. Roenick got second and third opinions that said otherwise. The two sides agreed on a low-seven-figure buyout before Roenick moved on to the Los Angeles Kings after the lockout.
A Fan Favorite in Chicago Always
Roenick went on to play for Philly, L.A., Phoenix, and San Jose over the last part of his career, and he was linked to the Rick Tocchet betting scandal in Phoenix.
But Chicago will always see Roenick as a Blackhawk.
Roenick scored 267 of his 513 career goals and 596 of his 1,216 career points with the Blackhawks.
He was hailed as a humanitarian in the Windy City and revered for leading Chicago to the 1992 Stanley Cup.
The End to a Stellar Career
Many saw Roenick as washed up after his run in Phoenix. But San Jose GM and former Chicago teammate Ron Wilson gave him another shot with the Sharks.
On February 21, 2009, at the end of his two seasons in San Jose, Roenick hit 700 career assists.
He is only the sixth American-born player (and 48th overall in NHL history) to hit that milestone.