Reinventing his life
Suomi’s biggest regret is that he didn’t keep his Blackhawks jersey. All that’s left of his playing days are a few pictures and his top-of-the-line skates, which in the 1930s cost about $50—equal to some $600 today.
After his short stint in the NHL, Suomi played for the Chicago Hornets of the long-defunct Chicago Arena League until 1940.
A pal he met while playing hockey helped him get a job at a paper manufacturer, where he worked until his late wife, Ann, talked him into opening a small hardware store in Countryside, a tiny Chicago suburb.
His namesake Al’s Hardware was open for 46 years. Suomi worked there almost every day until 2008 when at age 94 he sold the place. He says he “got too old and competition was too great.”
These days, Suomi lives with his daughter, Marilynn Twigg, and takes life at a slow pace.
He still has fans. Every month he gets about six letters—some from overseas—from people asking him to autograph pictures, Twigg says.
For now, all Suomi wants is the young Hawks to bring the Cup back to Chicago. “They got a good team. They’re hustlers,” he says.
And if he could get the team’s ear for just a moment he’d tell them to “just keep playing their game …. There’s no reason they can’t do it.”
Mark Konkol is a writer in Chicago.
Editor’s note: Al Suomi got his wish—the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in a sudden death overtime, beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in game 7.