Today started like any other game day…we had a goofy Photoshop ready to go, and I was figuring out where to use jokes about The Original Canadian Dream and Circus Bear Roman Polak. You’ll see the shop soon, just not tonight.
Then an hour or so before puck drop, word came from the Blackhawks that Assistant Equipment Manager Clint Reif passed away at age 34, leaving behind a wife and 4 kids.
Reif was the last member of the 2013 team to have a day with the Stanley Cup. Coach Joel Quenneville was clearly shaken when addressing the media prior to the game.
But there was still a game to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the United Center.
The Leafs are a spectacularly bad defensive team, allowing every Blackhawk, including Michael Roszival, really good looks at the net, and not paying much attention to anyone in red who was handling a puck, with the exception of the Circus Bear boarding Patrick Kane in the second period.
The Leafs quit playing with a few seconds left in the first, and it resulted with Kris Versteeg burying the puck. In fact, I kept seeing the Leafs quitting all night. They had plenty of opportunities, as once again Antti Raanta had the rebound control of a Bouncy House.
So what we basically had was two teams going through the motions tonight. The Hawks because they had a loss within their family, the Leafs, who knows.
It was odd seeing the Hawks scoring goals, and seeing no smiles on any of the players as they congratulated each other.
There will be a night again, maybe soon, when the Hawks can play with joy again. But tonight they went about the business of winning a game. I’m sure every player thought of Clint all night.
On a far more trivial scale, we’ll get back to doing Hockeenight things next game. I didn’t think it was right to write about a wife and four kids and then do our usual fart jokes and stuff. Hope you guys understand.