Chicago, IL — Since the start of the regular hockey season is almost here my look at the Blackhawks competitors series is coming to a close. In my final examination I thought I would leave the best, or in this case the worst for last. One of my all time favorite movie series is the Star Wars saga. Both the new and old trilogies are filled with symbolism, religion, sagacious wisdom, and insight to human weaknesses. To improve as a collective humanity we must face our frailties or at least be aware of them.
These movies really illustrate what the essence of humanity is and how human emotions can dictate our destinies or rather how we handle our emotions dictates our fates. As I’m sure everyone has seen at least one of these films, you will agree the story is the classic good vs evil drama sure, but the more interesting aspect I think is how it speaks to all of us with all our flaws and strengths and the narrow margin that can sometimes separate the two depending on the paths we choose. Is there destiny or is it our natures that determine our destiny?
What does this have to do with hockey and the Canucks and Blackhawks you ask. Well I think the Canucks while easy to make them the evil emperor are actually more like Darth Vadar. They are human making them flawed and easily swayed to the dark side. The Blackhawks, are like Luke Skywalker. Human and flawed yes, but aware of their flaws and weaknesses and can admit their frailties and try to correct them.
What are the Canucks weaknesses? There are some that we can see based on numbers and then there are those that are not that easily noticed or fixed for that matter like the teams psyche and maybe a refusal to self scout. There is an undeniable lack of maturity when handling their emotions. First the easier to quantify stuff the numbers.
This team placed 1st in all categories in 2010. They were first in the league in offence,defense, power play & were 3rd in pk in the regular season. 1 They were the Presidents trophy winner with the best record in the entire NHL and by all accounts should have won the Stanley Cup last year based on numbers. The Blackhawks numbers were nowhere near the Canucks in 2010 yet they pushed them to the brink. The game of hockey is more than numbers though and as Vancouver proved sometimes having the numbers is not necessarily the formula for success in the post season. I doubt anyone will argue that this team is very talented and skilled so it is not a lack of talent that is keeping them from the Cup.
In the off-season they really changed their roster very little. They lost D-man Christian Ehrhoff and thugs Raffe Torres & Tanner Glass. Every Blackhawks fan knows who Raffe Torres is after that shot to Seabrook in last years playoffs. With the departure of Torres and Glass the Canucks will not be any the worse for wear and maybe better off with the taking of needless penalties gone. Now that there is a new sheriff in town policing the NHL unnecessary penalties and headshots must be eliminated.
No it is Ehrhoff that will be missed but largely this is the same team as that in 2010. I already stated in Part V of this series I think the San Jose Sharks will be the tougher competition for the Hawks and probably the team they face in the Western Conference Finals unless the Canucks can fix what has been keeping them from the holy grail. The San Jose Sharks have significantly improved themselves as have the Hawks in this past off-season.
During the regular season in 2010 the Blackhawks and the Canucks split the series 2-2 and we all know how close the playoffs were between these two. Actually the Hawks and the Canucks have split their regular season encounters for the past 3 years. 2 The bad thing for the Canucks is that the Hawks team was coming off a Stanley Cup hang over last year, which does not bode well for the Canucks in 2011 as the Hawks are now rested and ready to gear it all up and go. The Canucks should have handled to Hawks easily last year. Yet they did not.
The Canucks have bigger weaknesses that only they can fix. Their poor showing in game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Bruins on their home turf too may just be the final straw that broke a fragile teams psyche. They had to endure the torture of the Blackhawks the prior two seasons playoff runs but they never came as close as last year. Now they will have a hangover as well as they played in as many games as the Bruins but nothing to show for it. To exert all that time and energy to come up short requires a great amount of maturity to come back more determined. So far the Canucks have not shown they have the fiber to do this.
It is also possible the Canucks lack killer instinct. Of this I’m not sure but I do know they lack maturity. Evidenced by the taunting Alex Burrows did to Patrice Bergeron and the finger biting coupled with the boo wooing of their coach and goalie the maturity level on this team is less than sophomoric. Therein I believe lies their greatest weakness. This team does not know how to handle pressure and scrutiny. They let their emotions get the better of them at the worst possible times.
Now emotion can be a good thing but only if you react in a rational fashion. The Canucks problems are not easily remedied. To admit one is flawed takes great inner strength and maturity. If they do not do this collectively as an organization they will forever be destined to keep repeating the same mistakes. It is very hard to admit your own faults but that is exactly what Vancouver needs to do.
The Jedi and the Sith are of equal skill and talent what distinguishes them from each other is their philosophy on what should drive them. The Sith believe in emotions guiding them and emotions that are unattractive in humanity; lust, power, deception, dominance and selfishness or immature emotions. The Jedi are governed by; harmony, empathy, honesty, calmness and selflessness or mature emotions. Not to say that the Jedi do not have all of those bad emotions it’s just that they trained themselves to recognize those bad emotions and the dangers they lead to if unchecked. The Sith are also capable of all the good emotions as well. It is just that they choose not to evoke those emotions. Until Vancouver has an epiphany and realize that they need to look to themselves to improve rather than whine or use tactics to win they will always come away short and with an empty feeling.
It takes great faith in yourself and your support system to not fear failure. If you fear failure too much you will fail. Fear is a debilitating thing and can lead to frustration which can lead to anger or lashing out in childish ways – that could be a Yodaism. It took Darth Vadar a long time before he overcame his fears and only in the end did so because of a stronger emotion-the love of his son Luke Skywalker.
While the Canucks I doubt will ever love the Blackhawks they can learn from them. The Blackhawks have gone through disappointments and failures but it is how they’ve handled these things that separates these two teams. Whether the Vancouver Canucks organization can take a cue from the Hawks would involve a great deal of maturity on their part and let’s face it they don’t have a Yoda or Obi Wan Kenobi to get council from in their operations.
I think these two teams will be butting heads for some time in the playoffs and you can throw out the numbers because that will not determine who bests who. Until the Canucks can stabilize themselves mentally and emotionally though I don’t see them really challenging the Blackhawks. They took a step last year by defeating the Hawks in 7 games but they’re probably not too proud of that accomplishment as the series should not have even gotten that close. As long as the Blackhawks core is in place and number 19 is captaining the Blackhawks Vancouver will have their hands full for a long time. Youth is on the side of the Blackhawks and their organization is filled quality young apprentices or younglings.
Let us not forget Jedi’s beyond being skilled with light saber prowess also possess serious mind tricks that can render the most confident opponents brainless and their puppets at will. It somehow does not seem fair they they possess telepathic, telekinesis or psychokinesis powers. The Blackhawks sometimes do seem to have some kind of mind over matter will that they call upon when needed. Maybe they are from a galaxy far, far away or maybe their fans are empaths that can channel strength and powers from within the universe to their team when they need it the most. One thing is for certain, The Force is not only with the Blackhawks they know that they control the Force and that it resides inside every one of them. Their team motto may just be the same as the great Jedi Master Yoda– “My ally is the force and a powerful ally it is”. 3
1 The Hockey News Yearbook
2. Taken from Chicago Blackhawks website – http://www.chicagoblackhawks.com
3 taken from Yoda in Star Wars, Episode V – The empire strikes back (1980) – Lucas films.