Thanks to the efforts of one Andrew Desjardins, the good people of Lively are in for a very special visitor this summer. In fact, Desjardins fingerprints were still fresh on the Stanley Cup when he decided where he would take it for his day with the most beautiful trophy in sports this summer.
“Oh, 100 percent, the Cup will be in Lively,” Desjardins said while celebrating the Cup on the ice of the United Center in Chicago Monday night. “No doubt about it.”
Desjardins was a small piece of the Blackhawks puzzle, but a vital one. When the Blackhawks went out and acquired him from the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline, they did so because they wanted some sandpaper and grit among their bottom six forwards, and that’s exactly what they got in Desjardins.
Playing on the left side of the fourth line with Marcus Kruger at centre and Andrew Shaw on right wing, Desjardins came as advertised. There were nights when that energy line was among the Blackhawks’ best. He killed penalties, provided energy and kept opponents on their toes. And in the clinching game, which the Blackhawks won 2-0, he was out defending the lead with the Lightning was pressing to get back into the game. In fact, he hit the post of the empty Tampa net late in the game.
Winning the Stanley Cup is the dream of every kid who plays hockey and Desjardins joins a group of local products such as Toe Blake, Randy Carlyle, Jim Pappin, Al Arbour, Larry Aurie, Eddie Shack, Red Green, Sam Rothschild and Dave Hannan to win the Cup. Desjardins was particularly touched that he was the fifth player to receive the trophy, after Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, then veterans Kimmo Timonen, Antoine Vermette and Brad Richards.
“They didn’t have to do that,” Desjardins said. “It just goes to show you what kind of people there are on this team.”
It’s a long way from Lively for Desjardins, a 28-year-old who was never drafted into the NHL. It’s also a long way from the Laredo Bucks in the Central League and the Phoenix Roadrunners of the East Coast League to carrying the Stanley Cup around the ice at the United Center. It was a journey that was not lost on Desjardins. And it’s not as though Desjardins was some kind of minor hockey prodigy. After all, he was drafted only in the 15th round of the OHL draft by the Soo Greyhounds in 2002.
“It’s still sinking in, but I don’t think people really realize how hard and grueling it is to do this,” Desjardins said. “How many ups and downs and fatigue and bumps and bruises. It’s just outstanding stuff right now.”
Desjardins had his family with him to share the moment and is grateful to have such a solid support network. “I don’t know if I realize sometimes what I’m into going into Game 7’s and all this stuff,” Desjardins said. “I think sometimes they’re more nervous than I am, but they really keep me focused. It’s just support, support, support. My whole town of Lively back home – support, support.”
That support group will have a chance to be rewarded when Desjardins comes back with the Stanley Cup in tow this summer.