As the Blackhawks reached hockey’s mountaintop in 2010, winning their first Stanley Cup since 1961, the Cubs were beginning to decline. They went 75-87 that season, Year 1 of a five-year rebuild.
You’ll have to forgive then-Cubs ace Ryan Dempster, an avid hockey fan, for how he felt watching the Blackhawks run through the 2010 playoffs while his own club struggled.
“I think at times, I was more excited for what they were doing out on the ice than what we were doing on the baseball field,” Dempster told NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan last week. “Especially in 2010 and watching them go through all that was incredible.”
Dempster befriended fellow Canadians Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews, and those friendships provided him the chance to celebrate with the Hawks after they won the Cup against the Philadelphia Flyers — though he almost passed up the opportunity.
Kaplan explained what happened that night, June 9, 2010, on his radio show Tuesday.
[Dempster] said he's asleep, and what I found out later was he was in Milwaukee. He had to pitch in Milwaukee the next day at 1:10 and he's asleep in his hotel room and the phone rings.
It's Brent Seabrook: 'Dude, we won the Cup. Get out here.' [Dempster] is like 'I got a game tomorrow.'
He got someone to drive him to Chicago and he stayed out late, like 5:30 in the morning. Got back to Milwaukee and then actually pitched into the sixth inning.
The Cubs lost on June 10, 2010 via a walk-off, but Dempster pitched well, tossing 5 1/3 innings while allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and five walks with three strikeouts. The late-night rendezvous seemed well worth it.
“Sometimes I don’t highly encourage those kind of things, but every once in a while when you have something special like the Stanley Cup coming through,” Dempster said, “you have to make exceptions but be willing — if you’re going to stay out with the owls, you gotta get up and soar with the eagles in the morning.”
“For a Canadian kid, I grew up watching hockey night in Canada, I loved hockey. “To be able to hold the Stanley Cup, to sip a beer out of a Stanley Cup, what an incredible moment at a time that I’ll forever be grateful for those guys sharing a little bit of their time with their trophy with me."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.