I know. The Hawks have dominated the Flames in recent years, including The Game That Shall Not Be Named, Patrick Kane incessantly gnaws on his stupid mouthguard like it's a chew toy, and nobody will ever know exactly what Adam Burish said to Jarome Iginla at the end of game three last season that made him so angry, but at this point in the post season, Chicago is the lesser of two evils. Toews and Co. now have the opportunity to do away with those insufferable Canucks for the second year in a row, so without further ado, I present you with your guide to cheering for the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks, ultimately named after Native American warrior Chief Black Hawk (duh), are an Original Six franchise and have a rich and storied history, as I'm sure Hawks fans will tell anyone who will listen. They entered the NHL in 1926 and have won the Stanley Cup three times, the most recent of which in the 1960-61 season when boasting a lineup that included hall of famers Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, and Ted Lindsay, making their current winless streak longer than that of the Leafs. According to Wikipedia, the Hawks own the distinction of having the poorest regular season record of any Stanley Cup champion after they won it in 1938 with a record of 14-25.
In 1992, the Blackhawks won an NHL-record eleven straight playoff games en route to the Finals, where they lost to the Penguins, who tied that record with their four-game sweep of Chicago. In 1998, the Hawks missed the playoffs for the first time in 29 years, one year short of tying the record set by the Bruins, and would fail to qualify for the post season again until 2002 and then from 2003-2008. The Blackhawks were named the Worst Franchise in Professional Sports by ESPN in 2004, much of which can be attributed to former owner William Wirtz, who famously blacked out all Hawks home games in the Chicago area and instituted other policies that alienated the team's fan base.
Chicago drafted Jonathan Toews third overall in 2006 and won the draft lottery a year later, when they selected Patrick Kane. Wirtz's son Rocky took over the team that year after his father's death and drastically changed the team's front office policies along with its relationship with its fans, including striking a new deal with two local television stations to broadcast all Blackhawks regular season and playoff games. Chicago has since become the league leader in attendance, averaging 21,783 fans per game at the United Centre, and set franchise records for wins and points over the course of the 2009-10 season.
Chicago Blackhawks Roster
As we all know too well, the Blackhawks are a very talented team, boasting gold medal winning Canadian Olympians Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Keith. How many Canadian Olympians do the Canucks have? One. If you have any Canadian pride in you whatsoever, you'll cheer for the Blackhawks. And for you Americans out there, well, Patrick Kane is pretty cool I guess.
While the Canucks have confidence in Luongo (for now), goaltending remains something of a question mark for Chicago, but has looked far more stable since Antti Niemi took over the starting job from Cristobal Huet. With the state of Vancouver's banged-up blueline and the return of Brian Campbell to the Hawks lineup, Chicago looks set to win the defence battle. The Canucks and Blackhawks ranked 2nd and 3rd in goals for during the regular season, and Vancouver found the back of the net 25 times in the first round compared to Chicago's 17. Up front, I'd probably give the advantage to the Canucks in terms of forward depth (that's something I never thought I'd say). They were able to pull through even when the twins were shut down by the opposition and despite the lack of offence from Alex Burrows, thanks to the strong play of Mikael Samuelsson and timely contributions from the likes of Ryan Kesler, Steve Bernier, and Pavol Demitra. The Hawks are also blessed with quick-strike offence that is dangerous in all situations, as the Predators learnt the hard way in their quarterfinals loss to Chicago.
Goals For: 17
Goals Against: 15
Shots For: 180
Shots Against: 166
PK %: 96.3
Goals For: 25
Goals Against: 18
Shots For: 187
Shots Against: 166
The Song you Probably Hate but are Going to Want to Hear as Often as Possible
Chelsea Dagger--The Fratellis. The song played at the United Centre after every Blackhawks goal.
There you have it folks, you're officially cleared to hop aboard the Blackhawks bandwagon. Game time is 6PM Mountain, 8 Eastern on CBC. Enjoy the ride.
Go Hawks Go.