CHICAGO – Andrew Shaw has had a tough time getting to sleep since the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup four days ago at Boston’s TD Garden.
It’s not so much excitement or adrenaline that is keeping Shaw awake until the wee hours of the morning. It’s a broken rib and a purple, stitched-up face that appears to be hiding a golf ball somewhere beneath his right temple.
“It’s hard to sleep on my stomach because of my face,” Shaw said with a half-grimace, half-grin Thursday at the United Center. “But it’s hard to sleep on my back because of my ribs.”
It’s hard not to admire Shaw as the epitome of hockey tough.
“I don’t know how he does it,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “But he doesn’t stop.”
The Hawks will parade through the streets of the city today with a couple of million of their closest friends. They will board trolleys at the United Center and follow Washington Street toward the lakefront, where they’ll celebrate with a rally at Grant Park’s Hutchinson Field.
Every Hawks player will receive rousing ovations. Every Hawks player will count their lucky stitches that they are able to play in a city that supports its teams with such passion.
But no other Hawks player will look quite like Shaw.
“He wasn’t that pretty to start with,” said teammate Viktor Stalberg, laughing at his friend’s unsightly bruises as a result of a flying puck to the face. “That didn’t make it any better.”
I don’t know. I think it looks pretty good.
To be fair, all sorts of Hawks players battled through serious injuries during the postseason.
Bryan Bickell sprained his right knee in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings, putting his status in jeopardy for the Stanley Cup Final against Boston. That didn’t stop him from scoring the game-tying goal to help the Hawks win the Cup.
Michal Handzus never showed signs of playing with a broken wrist. Marian Hossa returned despite a significant disc injury in his back that pinched a nerve and made his foot go numb. Hossa might require back surgery, but that didn’t stop him from hoisting the Cup.
Yet Shaw’s ugly face, combined with his broken rib, represented the wildest one-two punch of injuries. He broke a rib on his back left side on May 29 in Game 7 against Detroit.
“Just a couple cross checks in front of the net,” Shaw said, shrugging as if he were discussing yesterday’s weather. “Just caught me as I was opened up the wrong way, I guess.”
Shaw never missed a game, by the way.
Oh, and he won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on a double deflection.
Fast forward to Game 6 against the Bruins. Shaw looked to pass but was intercepted by Bruins forward Nathan Horton, who tried to shoot the puck into the offensive zone.
Shaw put his stick in front of Horton’s. The puck ricocheted up and blasted Shaw in the face.
I mean, blasted.
Shaw lay still for several scary moments while a dark red pool of blood stained the ice. Later, crews would use shovels to clean the surface because so much ice had been stained.
Although he stayed down for a while, at no point was Shaw knocked out cold.
“I was just trying to take in my thoughts, make sure everything was OK before I started moving,” Shaw said. “It’s kind of scary when you get hit that close to an eye. I was kind of just making sure I was all right at that point.”
Next came stitches during the first intermission.
“I think I took 16, 17,” Shaw said, unfazed by the number.
Next came the second period. Shaw was on the ice.
“I knew my head was fine,” Shaw said. “It was just whether I could get the bleeding to stop or not.”
It kept bleeding. Shaw ruined several towels at various points during the rest of the game.
Now, he’s lying on pillows, trying his best to fall asleep.
“It’s something you battle through,” Shaw said. “Eventually, you fall off into a doze.”
All the while, he’s living a dream.
• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @tcmusick.