Samardzija supports Blackhawks, loses shootout
CHICAGO -- Jeff Samardzija may have beaten the White Sox on Monday, but he lost to Paul Konerko in a shootout between periods of Wednesday's Blackhawks playoff game.
Samardzija joined some of his teammates at Game 7 between the Blackhawks and Red Wings, which Chicago won in overtime, 2-1.
"That was fun to go to a game like that, Game 7, and have it go into overtime," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "To have that goal taken away [because of a penalty] was a little upsetting but, thank God, they ended up winning. It all worked out."
Samardzija wore a Bob Probert No. 24 Blackhawks jersey. He was a big fan of the forward, who was known as an enforcer.
"He's one of the guys I remember growing up," Samardzija said. "I used to watch the games with my dad. I don't think my dad was the best stick handler or skater either, and he had his buddies on the team and they were goal scorers. You breathe on them the wrong way, and I think [my dad's] job was to go straighten them out. I think that's why he liked Probert which is why I like Probert."
Between the second and third period, Samardzija and Konerko took part in a shootout. The Cubs pitcher missed all three shots. Konerko did much better.
"I was walking down there and they told me Paulie was shooting the puck," Samardzija said. "I said, 'He's going to make me feel like an idiot.' It's the first time I've been on the ice with a packed house."
The Cubs pitcher knows who's the better hockey player among the two of them.
"He knows where [he is on] the totem pole on that," Samardzija said. "He's up top. He's got a nice little wrister there. I was trying to finesse it."
The Cubs have been very supportive of the Blackhawks. Former coach Denis Savard sang during the seventh-inning stretch on Wednesday at Wrigley Field.
"It was exciting and tons of fun," Samardzija said about being at the game. "We'd been to a few games the last couple years. We kind of knew what to expect, but that was Game 7 against Nashville. Game 7 against Detroit is totally different. It's cool to be that close to the ice and see the communication that goes on between the teams and the goalies and the defensemen."
The Blackhawks may want to keep Samardzija and Konerko on call.
"I have a whole year to get ready for my next one," Samardzija said. "They won, so if they have another Game 7, I'm pretty sure me and Paulie have to shoot the puck again at the second intermission."
Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson and James Russell joined Samardzija and Sveum at the game at the United Center. They saw how excited Chicago fans can be when the team is successful. Samardzija feels that buzz now for the Cubs-White Sox series.
"To be honest with you, we haven't had that many games where guys can see what the Chicago fans and big games are like," Samardzija said. "They're totally different when you're playing big games and everyone's coming out and fighting for tickets and there's a madhouse in the streets. It's a different feel than when you're playing another team on a weekday here.
"To see that excitement and see how people react to situations and how bad they want to be at those games and how bad they want the playoff games, it makes you realize this stuff needs to happen now [with the Cubs] and as soon as possible."