A fresh Cup for Blackhawks sounds good
By RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org April 16, 2012 8:30PM
Phoenix Coyotes' Martin Hanzal, left, of the Czech Republic, battles Chicago Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell (29) as linesman Shane Heyer tries to break up the scuffle while Coyotes' Shane Doan (19) and Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw, right, push one another during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Thursday, April 12, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. The Coyotes defeated the Blackhawks 3-2.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Updated: May 18, 2012 9:57AM
Maybe we got a little spoiled with that Stanley Cup in 2010, you know.
After the Blackhawks won the trophy for the first time in almost a half-century, the massive silver beer mug was seen for the next months everywhere in Chicago except the Cook County Jail.
Did it go there, warden? Hmm, might have. I was sitting at my Sun-Times desk one summer day, writing a sonnet, I believe, when somebody wearing white gloves plunked the thing next to my laptop.
Would I care to kiss the trophy, fill it with several cases of LaBatt’s, a diapered baby, or simply be alone with it in a meeting room?
None of the above, actually.
But the familiarity of the Cup with the general populace of Chicago, coming on the heels of that wild and frisky parade presided over by a well-served Patrick Kane and attended by, estimates say, over a million people, made the prize somehow less mystical than it was before the Hawks won it.
Then, last year, the buzz just wasn’t there come playoff time. The Hawks had shed so many familiar faces, while underachieving most of the season, that April seemed like the end of something rather than the start.
But now, friends, well — did you see the first two games of these Blackhawks playoffs?
Exciting? Gripping? Hello!
If you watched the late-starting games against the Phoenix Coyotes on TV, enough said.
If you didn’t, how do two last-second, game-tying Hawks goals to set up overtime — one a heartbreaking loss and the other a heart-mending win — sound for getting the old Stanley Cup juices flowing again?
Brent Seabrook ties Game 1 with a shot with 14.2 seconds remaining. Then Patrick Sharp ties Game 2 with 5.5 seconds left.
Count these guys out? Don’t think so. It’s especially sweaty-palmed when you remember there’s an empty net at the other end of the ice, and all the Coyotes have to do is fling one down the middle to end it.
And to come back to the United Center, where possible deafness will be an issue for attendees, only can jack up the Blackhawks more.
This would a nice time to jump back on that hockey buckwagon, those of you who have been paying too much attention to the Bulls and Wrigley Field developments and White Sox pitching.
This curiously frenzied Canadian game seems to exist in its own little universe for much of every year, sort of the way grizzly bears do before they come out into the fields and start chowing down on berries.
If you’re looking for intensity, you will have come to the right place. There were so many brawls in some of the playoff games that the Hawks’ Andrew Shaw’s clip to the head of Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith — a shot that knocked the stellar Smith to the ice for a spell — was like a swat at a mosquito.
Consider that in the Penguins-Flyers matchup, the legendarily skilled and formerly concussed Sidney Crosby actually fought the Pens’ high-priced Claude Giroux. That was about $14 million per year dancing the ice ballet.
That game had 72 penalty minutes in the first period.
Other fights were so nasty, it made you wonder about that old adage that fighting goes down in the payoffs. There was Predators captain Shea Weber bashing Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg’s noggin into the glass and earning a $2,500 fine. There was a dogpile of fist-pounding in the Blues-Sharks playoff, with a lot of the stuff looking not like strategy but thuggery.
You may recall Canucks star Daniel Sedin has been out 12 games with a concussion suffered on a head shot by the Hawks’ Duncan Keith, who earned himself a five-game suspension for it. Well, the still-loopy Sedin has flown to Los Angeles so he can maybe play and help his nearly-concussed-in-Game-3 brother, Henrik, keep the top-ranked Canucks from being ousted by the lowly Kings.
That’s how playoff hockey rolls. Leave nothing behind, not even brain cells.
So here come the Hawks, with the Stanley Cup image rising like a last-second dream. Or, if you prefer, a blow to the head.