The few days of Chicago Blackhawks management ripping apart their championship team were absolutely painful for me and many fans.
Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg, Adam Burish, and the much loved Dustin Byfuglien are all gone. All were known players on the Hawks team, and all were loved by fans, not necassarily for their goals or the amount of points they scored but for their attitude and presence on the ice.
Like many other great sports cities, the fans fall in love with their favorite teams' players.
Chicago is no different.
Watching the Hawks, whether it be live or on TV, fans feel some kind of connection to the players. It's that weird feeling, like you know the player and are friends with him.
Watching a Blackahawk game is like watching your friends play. You cheer for them to do well, and when they mess up, you easily forgive and forget. At the end of the day, whether the team wins or losses, your all still friends.
That's what makes Chicago fans so great. They have a passion for both the game and the players.
So when i saw player after player get sent away to another team, I was seriously saddened by it. I knew, because of the salary cap issue, it was bound to happen, but that knowledge didn't help abate the sad feeling.
Being a fan means loving every player on the team, from the stars to the players who don't get a lot of press.
Like Adam Burish, who doesn't score a whole lot of goals or provide many assists, but whose presence on the ice can't be denied. He has always played high intensity hockey, never lacking grit and determination.
Or Dustin Byfuglien, who won every Hawk fans' heart after another stellar playoff performance. You can't forget a guy who does well when it matters most.
Kriss Versteeg, with his uncanny ability to score some outrageous goals, became a fan favorite.
Andrew Ladd, with his tough-man mentality and his down-to-earth style of play, won many Chicago hearts.
It'll look like the same Blackhawk team to non-Chicago fans next season. But for too many Chicago fans, including myself, it won't be the same.
This year's team brought home a Stanley Cup trophy to Cup-hungry fans. Those players brought us joy and happiness.
You may take away the players, but you can never take the happy memories those Blackhawks left behind.
The 2009-2010 team will always be in our hearts.