One-time Hawks fan Dempster stays neutral

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The last time the Chicago Blackhawks played in the Stanley Cup finals, Ryan Dempster was pitching for the Cubs and arranged for the entire team to attend a playoff game. That was in 2010.

A group of Blackhawks players reciprocated by showing up at Wrigley Field that May, and they saw Dempster pitch one of his best games of the year, shutting out the Dodgers on three hits over eight innings.

A native of British Columbia, Dempster is a lifelong fan of the sport he didn’t play, he said this spring, because “I can’t skate.’’ His allegiance has always been to the Vancouver Canucks, but he threw his support behind the Hawks on their way to the Cup in ’10.

“It was a really fun time in the city, you know?’’ Dempster said. “Just like it’s going to be a fun time for Boston. Two ‘Original Six’ teams.’’’

He has remained friendly with a number of Blackhawks players.

“I knew a bunch of ‘em,’’ he said. “I know them to see them, have a beer, stuff like that. Pretty cool.’’

Three years later and pitching for the Red Sox, Dempster went Switzerland when asked where his allegiance lay in this series.

“I like good hockey,’’ he said. “That’s what I’m pulling for. Should be fun to watch. I hope we get to see a little of the games.’’