‘61 or ‘11, it’s still all about effort for Hawks
By Adam L. Jahns email@example.com January 9, 2011 12:32AM
islanders at blackhawks
The facts: 6, Ch. 9, 720-AM.
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Glenn Hall just couldn’t believe all the equipment Corey Crawford and Marty Turco were wearing.
“To see that equipment, even if [the puck] hits you, it doesn’t hurt,” the Hall of Fame goalie and Blackhawks legend said. “In the old days, we had very little equipment. You used to beg to get new equipment.
“I didn’t have a mask when I played in Chicago. Mind you, they didn’t shoot the puck in the old days like these kids are shooting it now. Everybody is shooting it a ton.”
Hall backstopped the Hawks to the Stanley Cup in 1961 and was one of five members from that Cup-winning team who stopped by Johnny’s Ice House West for practice Saturday.
Tonight, the Hawks will honor members of the 1961 team — Hall, Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Pierre Pilote, Ab McDonald, Eric Nesterenko, Bill Hay and Wayne Hicks.
Of course, equipment changes are just some of the differences that occurred in the half-century that separates the days when Hull and Mikita ruled Chicago and the current era of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane as the NHL evolved from six teams into a billion-dollar entity with a salary cap.
None of the ex-Hawks thought Chicago’s Cup drought would last almost five decades. The Hawks lost to the Maple Leafs in the finals in 1962, the Canadiens in 1965, 1971 and 1973 and the Penguins in 1992.
“We . . . thought we’d win the next year [in 1962], and we didn’t,” Hall said. “It was too long. . . . They make [repeating] more difficult now with the salary cap and how they couldn’t keep so many of their good players.”
But some things haven’t changed, such as the challenges of repeating.
“After you win it, you’re the king of the hill and everybody wants to kick your butt,” said McDonald, 75, who won three Cups with the Canadiens before joining the Hawks. “They all seem to try a little bit harder when they play a first-place team.”
“The good teams you beat the year before play a little better against you,” said Hay, 75, now the chairman and CEO of the Hockey Hall of Fame. “Our teams got better after ’61. So did the others. We weren’t far away from winning.”
The current set of Hawks is facing that reality right now.
“We’re learning it is pretty tough,” Toews said. “Obviously, last year we worked really hard. But now you see the adversity and . . . how difficult it is to get back to where you want to be.”
What advice would Mikita give the Hawks?
“If you’re going to meet a guy, beat him with your best effort,” Mikita said. “The same way on defense: That guy is not getting by me. Give it your best shot. And if he beats you with his best shot and you don’t have that best shot, you’re in trouble. If it’s the other way, you have a chance.”
Mikita said there always is some luck involved, too. But in the end, it’s all about effort.
“There was always something in the second or third period,” Mikita said. “We hit the post. It bounced over the guy’s stick or went in off our [butt] or something.
“You need luck to be able to [repeat] and the talent to be able to show it, and [you have] to make sure . . . the guy you’re going to be against [you believe], ‘You’re not going to beat me.’ That’s the mentality you have to have.”