Editor's note: Tim Sassone, the Daily Herald's veteran hockey writer, received this letter before Game 7 from a Canadian soldier and Blackhawks fan stationed in Afghanistan. It was edited for clarity and length, and a copy was shared with the Blackhawks.
My name is Major James Armstrong and I am a Canadian Forces soldier serving in Afghanistan. I was hoping you could pass a message to the Blackhawks organization for me.
As a lifelong Hawks fan, they are really delivering something great for me in Afghanistan and I wanted to fire some support back to them from the war zone.
Last year during the second round of the playoffs, the Blackhawks and USO were seeking a Canadian Forces member to be on the ice during the Canadian national anthem when the Hawks were playing the Canucks in Game 5. As a Blackhawks fan and Afghanistan veteran, and a serving exchange officer with NORAD in Colorado Springs, I was selected to attend the game. I have seen the Blackhawks play in every Canadian city, but never in Chicago. My first game was a dream come true for my wife and I. It is a story I tell my unit mates quite a bit.
Though they lost that game, it was great to be a small part of their drive to the Cup and to be able to meet Mr. Wirtz.
Since then, I have been deployed to Afghanistan again, leaving my family behind at our exchange officer post in Colorado Springs. I am with a Canadian unit, Task Force Silver Dart, that operates all of the air assets over here in an effort to keep our troops off the road and away from IEDs.
Being in a Canadian unit I take a lot of ribbing about being a Hawks fan, especially during Games 1, 2, and 3.
Here in Afghanistan you cannot have anything but "a don't quit" attitude. Anything less than that and folks can get hurt. It is an attitude that I have held true in my support for the Hawks, too.
The Hawks have shown their "don't quit" attitude and that rings true with me over here.
I wanted to pass on a photo of me with my Hawks jersey here in Afghanistan. I am fairly certain it is the only one here! If I wasn't back here for another tour with my great unit, then I would have been at some of those home games to cheer on the boys. Their great comeback has helped me during this tour with something great to follow and cheer for.
If you don't mind passing on the photo of me and my Hawks jersey in Afghanistan and my comments to the organization I would greatly appreciate it.
As a side note, you should know that every day you are the first website I open in the morning after finding the scores. Love the articles and the blog. Dave Manson was a favorite of mine too, but Chelios and Larmer still hold the top spots for me. Keep up the great work.
All the best and many thanks.
-- Major James Armstrong, 686 Canadian Forces