Professional athletes don’t get much attention when they do something good and honorable. Maybe that is because that doesn’t happen very often, or maybe because sometimes there is no PR machine to hype it, which in effect means that it didn’t happen.
So it’s nice to read a story like this, which is mostly unremarkable except for the fact that it was a bunch of professional athletes.
The Chicago Blackhawks were on the last night of a seven-day road trip back in November, and were due to fly back to Chicago after a night game against Toronto. But instead they stayed overnight, practiced in the morning, and then took a two-hour bus ride to Gravenhurst, Ontario, to attend the wake of Stan Tallon, the father of Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon.
Nobody complained. The entire team, plus all the coaches, the trainers, even the team president, took the two hour bus ride to a wake for somebody that I imagine none of them knew very well, if at all, just to show support for one of their own.
Here’s Dale Tallon:
The GM gets emotional still talking about what it meant to see the players walk through the door.
“I thought to myself, ‘What is this? Am I back in Chicago?’ ” Tallon said. “They started coming in and, wow. My mother, she gets the hockey package and watches all the games, it was so great for her. She was having such a hard time with it, we all were, but to see that, it was so heartwarming and it really took the edge off everything. That was the buzz the rest of the night.
“My dad was a hockey player and there were pictures of him when he was a young player, so the guys were looking at all the pictures and stuff. It was really cool.
“It makes you feel good about the character of our team and the homework we’ve done as a staff in drafting and getting these players. They’re genuinely good kids. It makes you feel good about our young population, to make the decision they did.”
Going to wakes for friends and family is part of what you do as a civilized person. But the world of sports being what it is today, we’ve come to expect athletes to act in uncivilized ways.
So good on you, Chicago Blackhawks. Whether they were told to go by management, or decided as a team, it really doesn’t matter, because they conducted themselves like they wanted to be there. And their effort brightened the day of Dale Tallon’s entire family, on a day when they could have used it.