There is finally a must see sports team in Chicago. No, not the bumbling Bears or the happy to be mediocre Bulls. Neither one of those two putrid teams can hold a candle to the United Center’s other tenant, The Chicago Blackhawks. The roar is back in Chicago. The Hawks put themselves back on the map last year with a remarkable run to the NHL’s Western Conference Finals. They eventually lost to the Stanley Cup runner-up Red Wings in 5 games, but everyone who watched them realized something was brewing on the west side. This off-season was filled with some controversy for the Hawks, but they have started fast this season, and have only one goal in mind. Win it all. Even with goalie questions, and the mental hurdle that is the Detroit Red Wings, the Blackhawks look poised to bring the Stanley Cup back to Chicago.
The feel good story of the Blackhawks playoff run was still fresh in everyone’s mind when Patrick Kane and his cousin decided to rough up a cop in the former number one picks home town of Buffalo. That incident followed former general manager Dale Tallon’s screw up on the contract offers for restricted free agents Kris Versteeg, Ben Eager, and Colin Fraser. Tallon’s Jerry Angelo restricted free agent snafu led to his firing. If that didn’t, it was the bad contracts he handed out to Christina Huet and Brian Campbell. Some thought the success had gone to the Hawks’ heads, but with Stan Bowman taking over as general manager, the Hawks were in good hands.
There are questions on this team despite the recent 8 game winning streak. Most notably, the play of Christobal Huet. The over paid net minder has played well so far this season posting a 12-5 record with a .909 save %, and a 2.19 goals against, but he still makes me nervous. The guy loves letting in cheap goals as much as he loves standing on his head like in game 5 vs the Wings last year. Even with the second best penalty killing unit in the league and improved defense, the Hawks need Huet to play at a high level to win grind it out playoff games.
Marion Hossa made his debut in the beat down of the Sharks on Wednesday, and he showed just how good he is scoring two goals without breaking a sweat. The Hawks have so many quality young players on this team like Toews, Kane, Keith, and Seabrook that during this stretch I forgot they even had Hossa. With 75 goals in 24 games the Hawks ranked 5th in the league. Adding Hossa will make them even more dangerous. This team may score 6-7 goals a night no matter who they are playing.
The biggest challenge with this team will be what it seemingly has always been, The Detroit Red Wings. I’m not ready to push the Wings aside and assume they are done just because of their slow start. The fact that they have given up more goals than they have scored and currently reside in 4th place in the Central Division doesn’t mean much to me. I still believe the Wings will be there when it counts, and the Hawks will have to go through them to get to the Finals. It reminds me of when the Bulls finally got past the Pistons in ’91 after 3 unsuccessful attempts from ’88-’90. The Wings may be older, but until the Hawks beat them in a series it will be a mental challenge for them to deal with. Having said that, I do believe this is the year for the Hawks to at least get to the Finals. Will they win? Not even Bob from Warrenville knows that, but what I do know is this team is a must see every time they are on TV. They are a must see for me as much as Entourage used to be, and Curb Your Enthusiasm still is. I also know that if there is one team in town close to bringing a title back to Chicago it’s the Blackhawks, and don’t bet against it happening next June.
Here is a video I think any die hard Blackhawks fan would enjoy. Go Hawks!