It really just doesn’t happen anymore in sports. Dynasty requires time, persistence and trial and error. Today, in more than just sports, it’s all about instant gratification, sexy free-agent splashes and quick turnarounds.
Ask any Blackhawks fan, or live with a few for awhile, and you’ll know that this process did not happen overnight. It’s one thing to win a Championship, it’s another to completely dismantle that Championship team, retool it, win it all again and then get bounced out of the Western Conference Finals the following year, on a goal that might as well been an act of god I might add, to only comeback the next year and for the 3rd time in 6 quick years it seems, win Lord Stanley’s Cup once again.
For a town that has suffered a 100-year plus drought from their beloved Cubs, a 30-year drought from their Chicago Bears and the Bulls still trying to reach back to the NBA Finals since the Jordan years, three championships in six years from the Hawks offers the city of Chicago and it’s loyal fans something that they truly miss, consistent greatness.
This city adores this team, in many ways, the core seven players of Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Keith, Seabrook and Hjalmarsson are like the royal family to Chicago. In 2010, when they won their first Cup, they were young, talented and maybe a bit naive. Hell, Kane and Toews barely could grow facial hair or were legally able to drink. Now as they skated around the ice with Lord Stanley’s Cup, they were doing so as fathers.
Yet, that doesn’t mean all the credit goes to those guys who have been together through the years, what may make this Championship stand above the other two is how everyone on this team contributed throughout the run. Scott Darling, the guy who might of had the longest road to the NHL than any other Hawk? They don’t win this without his stellar goalkeeping saving them in the first round. Brandon Saad, Tuevo Teravainen, Johnny Oduya, Antoine Vermette and Marcus Kruger all provided valuable assistance to the stars along the way.
And then there is the polarizing goalie, Corey Crawford. Last time the Hawks won the Cup, well, you know what he said. This time didn’t seem as easy. In Round 1 he struggled, many questioning if he should sit for the rest of the playoffs, as long as Darling continued his remarkable play. Yet, through all the criticism he found his way back to Championship form, as many goaltenders with a Cup under their belt do. Whatever he might say on Thursday at the parade, he will have surely deserved it once again.
As commissioner Gary Bettman handed Stanley to Chicago Captain Jonathan Toews to hoist, he noted something that many die-hard fans would not have dreamed of seven or so years ago when the crowd would barely reach 7,000 a game.
“I’d say you have a dynasty.”
Ask your Grandfather, or father about some of the greatest teams in sports history and they will come back with something like, “Those great Yankees teams” or “Those great Celtics or Lakers teams.” Surely the NHL has a few of their own, with Gretzky’s Oilers teams, the early 80’s Islanders and the Canadiens of the 70’s.
When we tell our kids about the great Blackhawks teams, it will be a in plural sense, along with the rest of the all-time great hockey teams. That’s a dynasty. Winning a championship is memorable and special. Winning multiple in a finite amount of time, implementing yourself as a dynasty, is forever.
Most of the time, we don’t realize how great a team is until it is long gone. Understand that the NHL has the toughest salary cap of any American Professional sports league, to keep this going, with this team is unfathomable. Tough decisions linger in the future for the front office, that’s the reality. As for now though, it’s fantasy come true for the city of Chicago.
The people of Chicago understand what it means to suffer as a fan base and all the hardships that come with it. Much like the previous two, it will be celebrated for months to come, kicked off by a record-breaking parade, surely.
And then October will come around once again, and the Hawks will lace up their skates to ensure that Lord Stanley stays in its most popular home of this decade. In many instances, when a dynasty is completed, it marks the end of an era, though, not this one. Kane and Toews are 26 and 27 with brand new contracts that will keep in them in Chicago for the duration of their already storied careers. The iconic Michael Jordan statue outside the United Center is going to have some company pretty soon.
A Chicago Dynasty. It has a nice ring to it.
3 rings, actually.