On a day when ESPN has been getting assailed for Stephen A. Smith's asinine comments about "ties" rendering the Chicago Blackhawks irrelevant when compared to the Miami Heat’s current run, Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville hopped on with the Scott van Pelt show on ESPN Radio to discuss his team’s start.
In a wide ranging interview, Quenneville hit on several big topics, including his team’s depth, their similarities to the club that won the Stanley Cup in 2010, and about Patrick Kane’s play as we approach the halfway point of the regular season.
On their 22 game point streak:
"At this stage, no matter who our opponent is, they’re playing like it’s their most important game, and we welcome the challenge and everybody’s stepping up… It’s gotten to be a huge thing amongst the guys where we don’t even talk about it but the guys are going into that next game and not wanting to let each other down. It’s been great."
On the 2010 team, and this Hawks team's similarities to them:
"We lost a really nice group of guys who really had a nice tight bond there over the years. We lost half our team. It took us a little bit to recapture that closeness and togetherness but we added some nice players.
"We seem to be back at that level where we have skill on all four lines. We can score throughout our lineup. We’ve got some depth on our bench and our back end. Our goal tending tandem has been outstanding, and in our organization, we have some guys who aren’t even playing here that probably deserve to play, so that’s the depth that we have and I think that’s going to be a strength going forward for our organization and team long term."
On Patrick Kane’s sizzling start:
"He’s been great this year. He’s had a great start to the season. He’s been phenomenal game in and game out. He has the puck more than I’ve ever seen him. He’s faster, he’s shooting the puck the best I’ve ever seen him (shoot). He wants to be on the ice, and he’s been leading the charge here… It’s almost like he’s taken it upon himself, like he’s not happy with what happened last year, or maybe the last two years, like ‘hey, we wanna be back on top’ and he’s been great."
Instead of focusing on the comments that Smith made about the sport, what fans need to focus on is the fact that the Worldwide Leader is talking about the NHL at all. The Blackhawks have become more than just a hockey story; they’ve become a big sports story.
If Smith et al butchering basic facts about today’s NHL is the price that we have to pay in order to avoid hearing ad nauseum about Tim Tebow’s latest activities or the craziness surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers, then fans should be willing to stomach the indignities in favor of less annoying coverage.
Or just stop assuming ESPN needs to cover hockey more. One of the two.
Update @ 4:41pm CST: Tony Kornheiser, after seconds before proclaiming that he watched yesterday's Hawks-Red Wings tilt, insisted that the Los Angeles Lakers' 33 game winning streak would always be superior to the Hawks' current points streak because the NHL allows ties.
Responding to backlash on this echoing of Smith's ignorance, @mlse, author of the Toronto Maple Leafs' blog "Pension Plan Puppets" put it in a tweet, "Boy, it's almost like ESPN puts loud mouth buffoons and/or lazy reporters front and centre on their coverage.