The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

Notes on the Blackhawks

The Lightning and Blackhawks will battle for the Stanley Cup. (USATSI)

Notes on the Blackhawks

BY Richard Kagan

Last Monday, the Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-0 to win game 6 and the Stanley Cup.  That night, thunderstorms raged outside, and inside the United Center, home of the Hawks, the Lightning were shut out.

The Hawks got a late goal in the 2nd period by Conn Smythe winner Duncan Keith.  He followed up his shot and put it past an out of position Ben Bishop for the first goal which sent Hawks fans into near delirium.  Patrick Kane, the great winger, tallied just his first goal of the series, but it was a beautiful goal.  The no-look set up pass by Brad Richard found Kane all alone and he shot the puck into a gaping net.  That goal sent the fans into a frenzy with little time left in the 3rd period. Now, it was 2-0 Hawks and the Lightning were just about done.

This was an extremely close, hard fought series. The 2-0 win was the only game where a team had a 2 goal advantage in the whole series.  The 23 goals scored by both teams (Hawks had 13) were the 2nd fewest scored in a 6 game series.  The Hawks Cup win on home ice was the first time since 1938, when FDR was President.

Tampa Bay played  well with two of their key players being injured. Ben Bishop, the goalie revealed he had a groin issue and Tyler Johnson, the irrepressible center was finally slowed down due to a broken wrist suffered earlier the series. Yet the Lightning played on and almost broke through.

It was Chicago’s depth and defense that carried the day.  Defensman Keith played heroically, totaling more than 700 minutes in the series.  He was an anchor next to goalie Corey Crawford who came up huge in the final two games of the series.  When the Hawks had to have a win, Crawford stood tall.

This was the 3rd Cup win in the last 6 years for Chicago. In their long franchise history they had won the Cup 6 times, and 3 came since 2010.  The Hawks were lifted up from the ash heap by Rocky Wirtz, son of Arthur Wirtz, who used to own the Hawks. John McDonough was bought in from the Chicago Cubs organization to lead the team, and Stan Bowman, son of the great coach Scotty Bowman, took over as General Manager.

The team started showing all Hawks games on TV, and soon the United Center was rocking again. A few young players such as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were drafted, and the rest.., well, the story is still being written.  Toews is 27, and Kane 26 and yet they’ve won 3 Cups together. Bowman has crafted winning teams in the salary-cap era, and has cut well known players in the past. Dave Bolland who scored the winning goal vs. Boston in 2013 was released.  Media reports suggest that winger Patrick Sharp may be gone as well as fan favorite Brian Bickell.

They held another parade in Chicago the other day and an estimated 2 million people turned out.  All this for a team that was practically invisible a decade earlier.  We saw a lot of joy, a lot of happy Hawks fans, and a Hawks team that seemed to love every moment.


[credit photo (USATSI)]


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Notes on the Blackhawks
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Notes on the Blackhawks

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