Upset Blackhawks didn’t deal? Reflect on those two Cups again
BY RICK MORRISSEY Sports Columnist March 5, 2014 10:59PM
Updated: March 5, 2014 11:04PM
I might be mistaken, but I believe the Blackhawks are the defending Stanley Cup champions. I risk further error by stating they have won two of the last four Cups, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
The NHL standings seem to suggest the current team, as constituted, isn’t too shabby, either.
So why all the caterwauling among the locals about the Hawks’ lack of a splash before the trade deadline Wednesday and the Blues’ earlier acquisitions of Ryan Miller and Steve Ott from the Sabres? Why the screeching that Thursday will dawn without Ryan Kesler in a Hawks uniform?
It’s an odd way to carry on, considering the Hawks look very much like a franchise in mid-dynasty.
I wish we all would act like we’ve been here before — ‘‘here’’ being along the championship parade route — but that apparently is impossible. Right now, many Hawks fans are lying on the ground and fighting for air. That’s because the sky has fallen on them.
I wish we all would carry ourselves like Patrick Roy did in his famous 1996 takedown of former Hawks star Jeremy Roenick. Roenick had said the Avalanche goalie was ‘‘probably getting his jock out of the stands’’ after Roenick had beaten him on a breakaway. How did Roy respond?
‘‘I can’t really hear what Jeremy says because I’ve got my two Stanley Cup rings plugged in my ears,’’ he said.
The Hawks didn’t have to make a big move. And it doesn’t matter that the Blues, who never have won a Cup, did make one. They’re the chasers. They want what the Hawks have. Until someone says otherwise, the Stanley Cup has established residency in Chicago.
‘‘We don’t have any players that we want to trade away,’’ general manager Stan Bowman said. ‘‘We’ve really accomplished a lot over the last couple of seasons with the group we have here. We’re not looking to break it apart.’’
It has been open season on Bowman of late. Do something, the crowd roared before trade deadline. Like win a championship, you mean? Bowman has two Stanley Cup rings, one for each ear. He can thank former Hawks GM Dale Tallon for the first one in 2010, but the second was due in part to Bowman’s vision and hard work.
He deserves the benefit of the doubt now. If he didn’t make any major moves before the deadline — if trading Brandon Pirri to the Panthers and acquiring defensemen David Rundblad and Mathieu Brisebois from the Coyotes was all he did — well, maybe that was all that needed to be done.
The Hawks are two points behind the first-place Blues in the Western Conference’s Central Division, which gives coach Joel Quenneville something to get his motivational arms around and nervous fans something to obsess about.
But the most reasonable thought came from captain Jonathan Toews: ‘‘Once the playoffs start, whatever happened during the regular season is pretty much forgotten.’’
Yes. Exactly. What he said.
The Hawks have proved they are one of those rare teams that can flip a switch and raise their game when it matters. The very idea of it goes against just about every coaching tenet, and it probably makes Quenneville sick to his stomach. But it’s true.
The Hawks are still the most talented team in the NHL. It’s why 10 of their players competed in the Sochi Olympics. Talent alone doesn’t decide championships. But whatever does, the Hawks have proved they have
When you’ve had as much success as they’ve had, there’s nothing wrong with standing pat. Or, to put it a different way, there’s everything right with standing pat.
There is no hint the Hawks have become complacent. If there were, we would be having a different discussion. I’d be wondering why Bowman didn’t shake things up. But there has been no suggestion of players going through the motions.
Let’s review fans’ past/future complaints. Corey Crawford wasn’t/isn’t good enough. The Hawks didn’t/don’t have a second-line center. And they didn’t/won’t make a trade.
Marian Hossa is out two to three weeks with an upper-body injury! And Bowman just sat on his hands in response!
Yet somehow the Hawks stumble on, winning games and zeroing in on the postseason. It must be a miracle.
What happened to the belief, folks?
Here’s what you say to the voice in your head that questions the Hawks’ readiness for another title run:
I can’t hear you because I’ve got two Stanley Cup rings plugged in my ears.