Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup: A quick reflection on a stunning season
The Bruins deserved this. The hockey gods needed to even their balance sheet. In an improbable flurry of goals, Boston stunned the bumbling Toronto Maple Leafs on May 13. The Eastern Conference champs have been playing with house money for a month.
Let's rewind for a minute. As the lockout lingered on, postponing the start of this season, hockey beat writers were forced to dream up content. I'll chalk that up as the reason for the few dopey pieces I read that claimed Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville was on the hot seat. Fools! The man, the mustache, is a tactical genius.
I'm not sure where the nearest bronze foundry is to Chicago, but someone running the place just got an order for a man-sized hunk. Or three. The United Center will have to find new cement plots for statues of Toews and Kane and, if there is justice, Coach Q, too. With its second Stanley Cup in the span of three years and four seasons, the Blackhawks are now hometown heroes equivalent to the Jordan Bulls. Well, as much as a hockey team can be in America. You only need to measure the insane amount of merchandise being sold and worn on the streets downtown. MJ wore the emblem of the Nike swoosh. Kane sports the dashing swoosh of his mullet. Both are now permanently fixed in the firmament of Chicago sports stars.
Can the NHL and sports media in general stop shoving Sidney Crosby down the public's throat as the only famous face in the game now? Please. Kane is dazzling. And American. Get him on a Wheaties box, stat. No, I'm not underselling Toews. The man (kid? He's still kind of a kid, right?) is just too down to earth to want the attention.
For weeks I have been engaging in a game of reverse psychology, telling myself the Hawks will lose, muttering pessimistic thoughts to coworkers. I'm too superstitious to be cocky. I needed to tell myself it couldn't happen. Boston seemed to have that mystical mojo. But Andrew Shaw, the perfect picture of hockey with a stitched gash on his swollen cheek, hoisting the Cup, summed it up on national television, repeatedly, "Fuckin' A, man!" Fuckin' A, man.
Has there been a team in Chicago sports history that has been this utterly likable, top to bottom, on the roster? The Bulls had Rodman. But even Ray Emery, a former screw-up rebound machine with Mike Tyson on his mask, played a golden role in a miracle season. Then there's Bickell, scoring about as many goals in the playoffs than he did in the entire (shortened) season. Seebs more than redeeming himself after being called out by Q. Sharp being as quietly amazing as he is handsome. The Kruger line on PKs. Crawford. Christ, Crawford. Again, I'd like to remind everyone that at one point in the season, people were questioning his ability and justification for starting.
I see the advertising banner every day at Ogilvie train station on the way to work. It has been a slogan of the Blackhawks team for some time: "One goal."
Seventeen seconds. Two goals.
P.S.: Can we stop playing that goddamn Fall Out Boy song now?