If you were to take a look around the Internet after last night’s loss by the Chicago Blackhawks, you would quickly see some conflicting emotions. Yes, there were some fans who were keeping their heads up, optimistic that the team’s three day rest period before their next game Thursday will do the trick to cure what ails the team.
Then again, there are others who are really bummed out about things, concerned that deeper issues could be at play as the team has lost two in a row after a strong start. Whichever way one leans, however, it would probably do everyone some good to keep in mind the big picture, which NBC Sports Network’s Joe Posnanski did in his excellent piece on the Blackhawks after attending last night’s game.
Here are a couple of gems from the column:
“Every now and again, when a city is lucky, it gets a team it can fall in love with. This takes something a little bit more than just being a winning team. It takes a connection. The Showtime Lakers of Magic Johnson had that connection –they won with the sort of style that spoke to people in Los Angeles. The 1998 Yankees had a special romance with New York – those Yankees were rich and star-driven and powerful, the stuff that courses through New York…
“These Blackhawks are only halfway through the season. But they’re winning Chicago’s heart.”
Posnanski’s prose weaves a tale of a team poised to pull off the double play required to win over a city. Not only does the team have to be good, but they also have to be able to establish a connection with the city. Joe cites the team’s 13 different game winning goal scorers as evidence that they are more than just a club gifted with one or two stars: they are a collection of many assets, much like Chicago is a collection of many neighborhoods.
Posnanski is dead on with another thing that he says. With the Bears’ collapse this year, the White Sox fade down the stretch last year, the Bulls’ difficulties without Derrick Rose, and, well, the Cubs being the Cubs, the Blackhawks are the only team in town that is able to command the attention of a sports-loving metropolis.
As much as Posnanski seems to imply it, however, Chicago will never be a Blackhawks town. Even if they win the Stanley Cup this season, the sport that just about every fan in the city lives and dies by is football. If you tune in to either of the major sports talk stations in the Windy City, there are decent odds the hosts will be discussing the Hawks or Rose’s recovery, but the favorite in that situation is dissecting the latest moves of the Bears.
Whether it’s the hiring of new assistant coaches, speculation on whether or not new head coach Marc Trestman can get this team to elite status again, or even questioning whether Brian Urlacher and Devin Hester should come back, there is ALWAYS something being discussed with the Bears. This is a reflection not just of what gins up the most conversation on the airwaves and among listeners, but also of just how prevalent the NFL is on the sports landscape.
That is true nationally, and it is especially true locally.
Yes, the city is embracing the Hawks in a way that no one could have possibly foreseen even five or six years ago, but even with the hockey craze that has enveloped Chicago, they still can’t call themselves the top dog in this town.
While the Blackhawks can make a legitimate claim to being the Second City’s Second Team, the fact of the matter is that the Bears have been and will be for the foreseeable future, Chicago’s team.