CHICAGO – Certain things, I love.
My wife. My family. My old golden retriever from when I was a kid.
Surely, you also have a short list of loves.
So does Hawks forward Andrew Shaw, the hero of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Shaw loves scoring goals. He loves Bolly. And he loves shin pads.
How do we know this?
Because it’s Shaw. Because it’s the Cup.
In a move that was both genius and prescient, somebody at NBC decided to attach a mini-microphone to Shaw’s No. 65 sweater during Wednesday’s series opener against the Boston Bruins.
It just so happened that the game turned out to be a triple-overtime classic, and it just so happened that Shaw turned out to be the one to score the game-winner when he redirected a puck off his shin pad and into the back of the net.
By now, the video of Shaw’s “mic’d up” celebration on the ice has gone viral.
Try following along without cracking a smile.
Announcer: “More banging in the boards, and it’s squibbed on back to Rozsival. Rozsival, a shot. They score!”
Shaw: “Ahhhh!!! Yeahhh!!! Woooo!!!”
A few joyous expletives follow. Exhausted Hawks leap off the bench to celebrate, and Shaw winds up in a full-on embrace with teammate Dave Bolland, a fellow antagonist and the player who first deflected Rozsival’s shot before Shaw notched the goal.
“Bolly! I love you!!!” Shaw screams into Bolland’s face from 1 inch away. “I love shin pads!!!”
That’s vintage Shaw.
All of that wild energy you see on TV? It’s just the tip of the Shawberg.
Poor Patrick Kane has to occupy a locker next to the guy.
“Yeah, I sit next to him,” Kane said with a smile Thursday at the United Center. “There’s times when I’ve almost got to tell him to shut up because he just asks questions and doesn’t stop talking when you’re next to him there in between periods.
“He’s really excited to be here.”
I’ll vouch for that.
Before games, it’s common practice for a group of Hawks players to gather in a corner hallway of the United Center basement and kick around a soccer ball. Hockey players are far more cordial than most of their peers in other professional sports, so if someone happens to enter the hallway during their game, they’ll hold the ball and wait.
A few weeks ago, I happened to be that someone.
Stopping play, Shaw grabbed the soccer ball with both hands. A mischievous grin crept across his face. He eyed a light fixture about 7 feet off the ground on a side wall, timed his steps, and threw down a 360-degree slam dunk on top of the fixture.
The judges – as in, his teammates – ate it up. They doubled over laughing.
Thankfully, nothing broke. No lights. No hands. No fingers.
As for breaking tension, Shaw can do that.
As for breaking a stalemate in the third overtime, Shaw can do that, too.
So let’s forget all of that “One Goal” nonsense. It’s too 2010. Too boring. Too stuffy.
The Hawks’ new motto should be “I love shin pads!!!”
What four words better describe this thrill ride of a season?
It’s fun. It’s unexpected. It’s the best kind of weird.
Print it on T-shirts. Write it on poster boards. Take a bar of white soap and scribble it in big, bold letters across the side windows of your car.
Because if you love shin pads, it’s probably safe to say you love Shaw.
If you love Shaw, you love the Hawks.
And if you love the Hawks, you have to be loving life right now.