Blackhawks pay tribute to Tim Sassone

After covering the Blackhawks for more than a quarter of a century, it took a lot to impress Tim Sassone.

Because honestly, he'd seen it all: the good, the very good, the bad … and the really bad.

But as it turned out he hadn't quite seen it all until that magical 2009-10 season when the Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in nearly 50 years.

Tim often told friends that one of his favorite memories on the beat occurred at the very end of that season, on the ice in Philadelphia, just moments after the Blackhawks had clinched the Cup.

That's when Patrick Sharp spotted Tim on the ice, skated away from celebrating with his teammates for a moment and came up to Tim and shook his hand.

It was a small gesture but one that provided a great memory — for both men.

“I just remember that he's been around here since Day One that I've been here, and I knew how good it felt for me to win the Stanley Cup with my teammates and I know he's a part of that in some ways and so it was nice to give him a handshake and celebrate with him,” Sharp said.

News of Tim's passing Tuesday shook Sharp and the Blackhawks family as well.

“It's a sad day,” he said. “We like to consider Tim a friend of everybody's. He's been on the beat for a long time, and we know how much he cares about the Blackhawks. He was very fair, very honest. He wasn't afraid to write both sides of the story.

“You could tell he had a passion for the Blackhawks and cared a lot about the players.”

Tim's loss will be felt around the United Center for quite a while by the entire Blackhawks family, including players, coaches and fellow media members.

And before Tuesday night's game against the Dallas Stars, that entire Hawks family — along with yet another packed house — were able to give a final salute during a touching moment of silence while Tim's picture graced the video screen above center ice. As one media member tweeted afterward, “you could hear a pin drop. Classy of Hawks fans.”

And that was as good a testament as any to Tim's character. Here are some thoughts from those who worked closest with him over the years:

Jonathan Toews:

“He was a great guy. It's a shock. He's a guy that you're so used to seeing around the locker room all the time, so it's not an easy thing that he's gone.

“The Blackhawk family, the players, the people who work in the office and make this thing go every day — people like Tim are a big part of that. He wrote so many things and was a huge part of the Blackhawks' story, especially the last little while, so it's sad to see it happen to someone so close to all the action like that.”

Chris Kuc, Chicago Tribune:

“It's a nice dynamic; we were competitors, but at the same time we were great friends. We used to drive to practices and games together because we lived nearby each other in the Western suburbs.

“On the outside he has this gruff exterior, but once you get to know him he's just a sweet guy, a great guy. I was thinking about when it was his turn to drive, he'd come and pull into my driveway and my 4-year-old son would get so excited and run outside and talk to Tim, and Tim was so sweet to him — I'm going to miss that the most.

“He was a great family man. He put his family first — his wife, Christine, and his son Andrew and daughter Ali — he'd go to all their events and did everything for them.”

Joel Quenneville:

Tough news. Tim's a great man, covered the Hawks and hockey here in Chicago for years. The hockey world lost a great man.”

Pat Foley:

“A wonderful guy, a good guy to be around. Even when he was grumpy — as we all get sometimes — you could turn him around pretty quick. He had a great laugh, one of those guys you look forward to seeing. You always want more of those folks in your neck of the woods.

“Like 'Q' said, it's a tough loss, and we're certainly thinking about his wife and kids. I know the last couple of years have not been easy on him, but whenever you were around him you would've never known that. He had a real special aura around him.

“Anybody who wants to be in the media … you want to be like that guy.”

Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook:

Keith: “Sad to hear that. I always had a lot of respect for him. He always gave us a lot of respect and was always fair to us as players. He was one of the first guys I remember when I came here to Chicago.”

Seabrook: “The same things Duncan said — he showed us a lot of respect and had a good hockey mind.”

Keith: “He knew hockey really well. The questions he'd ask, you could tell he's been around the game for a long time and was a smart hockey guy.”

Troy Murray:

“The thing about Tim was that he's been around here so long — obviously from when I was around as a player in the early 1980s. He was there through the good and the bad.

As a writer, Tim was very honest and very open about what was going on. It was very truthful, and I think he prided himself in not having a bias in what was going on, He called a spade a spade. Some people thought at times that he might have been a little bit too critical during the bad times — but they were bad times!

“I know among the players he had a great deal of respect in my day, and even in today's day. First off, he was a huge Blackhawks fan and he loved the team. That was where he wanted to be, and I think that came through in the way he wrote.

“All you ask for is the honesty, and that's the way Tim was. As a player and now as a broadcaster, I have nothing but great respect for what he did for the Blackhawks.”

Longtime Blackhawks writer Tim Sassone dies

A respected journalist, Sassone always made the right call

Remembering Tim Sassone

With more than 11,000 Twitter followers and plenty of Facebook friends who followed his Blackhawks coverage, here's a sampling of social media reaction to the death of Tim Sassone:

Jason Kay, The Hockey News: So sad to hear the news of the passing of Tim Sassone. The Chicago reporter was a true pro and a valued member of THN's family for decades.

Chris Boden @CSNBoden: Tim Sassone was never afraid to ask the necessary questions & provided honest opinion & insight. Always a #Blackhawks must-read.

Alison Moran: It was my sincere honor to count Tim Sassone among my friends in the sports business. All the way back to my internship days, he was friendly and made me feel welcome in the pressbox, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations. A good, no-nonsense man who told it exactly the way it was.

Howard Moore of Chicago: He wrote about Hockey when there were very few people interested in the game. Tim and Verdi are all time great Hockey writers here. RIP Tim.

Bill Placzek, St. Petersburg, FL: Today we lost the best Chicago hockey writer we had. Tim, you brought so many of us together on your boards, and always had the courage to question management when others spouted the company line. The world is a smaller place today.

Rick Rooney: You kept the Hawks alive when they were dead in this town giving us Hawks fans some hope. You answered emails and replied to tweets and were so gracious when I spoke to you at the Prospect Camps.

Brandon Faber, Blackhawks: Tough day with the news @TimSassone has left us far too soon. A great writer who dedicated his last 26 years to the #Blackhawks #RIP

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