|The Blackhawks surprised GM Dale Tallon, shown here with Patrick Kane, while he was in Ontario mourning the loss of his father.
Dale Tallon couldn't believe his eyes.
It was Sunday, Nov. 22 and Tallon's team, the Chicago Blackhawks, was supposed to be back home. At least, that's where the general manager thought they were going directly after their game in Toronto Saturday night.
The Hawks were at halftime of their annual circus trip, a six-game road swing at the time when the United Center gets overtaken by clowns and elephants, and they were supposed to have three days at home before heading west for three more games.
Instead, the entire team walked through the doors of the W.J. Cavill Funeral Home in rural Gravenhurst, Ont. on Sunday night to spend a few hours with their grieving general manager, who was mourning the passing of his father, Stanley Tallon.
The compassionate venture required the Hawks to cancel their flight plans Saturday, find a hotel for the night, ice to practice on the following morning, two busses to charter for the two-hour ride from Toronto to Gravenhurst and a new flight home Sunday night.
If you can't imagine today's professional athletes sacrificing so much for someone else, you haven't met these Chicago Blackhawks. The decision to alter their plans and attend the wake came in the dressing room following their 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs.
It was unanimous.
"He would do the same thing for us, no question about it," Hawks forward Adam Burish told the team's website.
According to Stanley Tallon's obituary published by Sun Media, he died peacefully on Nov. 21 at the Muskoka Landing Nursing Home in Huntsville, Ont. His wake was held two nights and his funeral, at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church in Gravenhurst, was Monday morning.
"It was a no-brainer that we were going to be there for Dale and his family," Burish said. "Every guy in this locker room would say he's a guy they'd do anything for. He comes in here and he's always positive. He treats everybody here like his sons or part of his family, so to show up to his father's funeral for him and his wife and their two daughters, it was a thing most people would do for him and something that needed to be done and we were happy to do it.
"That was the serious part of the story."
Oh, yes, there is a funny part, too.
On the way back to Toronto, the Blackhawks players complained of being hungry. Since there was no team meal set up - this trip, after all, was unscheduled - they found the next best option for a quick meal on the go.
"It was a small town, there wasn't much going on," Burish said. "It looked like of a ghost town, and then all of a sudden we saw McDonald's and everyone was like, 'Let's go, let's go.' "
They went and they conquered.
"The bus stopped, everyone got off and I think everyone definitely took advantage of the situation and pigged themselves out," Patrick Kane
told the team's website.
Burish said the champions were without question Patrick Sharp
, Brent Seabrook
and James Wisniewski.
"I know Sharpie and Seabs, we couldn't get them out of there," Burish said. "They wanted more Big Macs. Every time they could get another Big Mac in them they did. Wiz, too. French fries galore over there."
Imagine this scene: Quiet, rural town outside of Toronto on a sleepy Sunday night. A McDonald's that usually just draws a local crowd. And, in walks 23 professional hockey players all wearing nice suits.
"The people were kind of like, 'What is going on here?'" Burish said. "Guys are coming in dressed in nice suits and started ordering Big Macs and French fries?"
Of course, most of the customers recognized the players, especially considering some of their pictures adorned the restaurant's wall.
"We saw some little hockey cards of Kane and Toews," Burish said. "Toews was actually the one who asked to go to the McDonald's and we think he did that just so he could see his hockey cards."
"(Burish) is probably mad he didn't have one in there," Kane said.
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Staff Writer