Chicago, IL — It took me a couple of days to process everything that happened in the 2014-15 season for the Chicago Blackhawks and quit honestly I was emotionally drained and stressed out.
I can’t even imagine what the players, coaches, staff and organization as a whole must be feeling. I can not recall a season with as many obstacles for a team to overcome both on and off the ice.
The fact that this team overcame all is a testament to every one in the organization. Make no mistake this took the entire organization to win this Stanley Cup which I guess in the modern-day salary cap era is what exactly it will take.
If you can remember all the way back to the first regular season opener against the Dallas Stars in Dallas it was an early indication of the battle this team would have to endure on the ice for the rest of the season.
The team had to come back tie the game up and eventually win in a shoot out against a very talented young divisional opponent, which is sort of how the entire season went on and even into and through the playoffs.
The Hawks are no question in the toughest division and conference in the NHL and that will not change going forward. In fact the target is even bigger on the Hawks now that it ever was.
The good thing is this team loves challenges and will probably embrace this going forward. All the teams in the west and in the central just keep getting better so the Hawks will be challenged every step of the way going forward.
The Hawks also had to face injuries, which every team does but to lose your leading scorer at the crunch part of the season and turn that into an opportunity to get on ice help in Timonen, Vermette and Desjardins was fortunate yes with the timing, but also a sign by the management that there was belief in the team.
Again they were right. This symbolic move had more weight than any of us will ever know on the team.
This brings me to the Hawks also have to battle the NHL themselves. The league does not really want repeat teams winning championships because they view it as they want to spread the wealth throughout the league which is the purpose of the cap. Bill Daly said it himself on NHLNetwork.
Again this is a battle that the Hawks will have to keep waging year in and year out. If there is a front office that can handle this does anyone doubt that the Hawks can’t manage this? If you do you have not been following Stan Bowman’s moves closely enough.
Maybe though the toughest things to overcome were the off ice obstacles. As I have written before there is something that we all share as humans but never feel comfortable with and that is loss. Specifically loss of those close to us.
This team not only had to face that once this year but twice. The only comfort is that they could look to each other for support and empathy. As a fan who myself had to experience the loss of someone dear this year, know that we as fans too can empathize and sympathize with your losses.
If all of that was not enough there were malicious rumors and here say that surrounded the team when they were all dealing with things like loss, grief and just the grind of an 82 game NHL schedule, the leeches piled on.
The Hawks handled all of this with class and a professional demeanor that I’m not sure most could have done. I’m amazed at how well they handled this so huge applauds to them for their comportment in dealing with vicious idiots with dignity.
Through all of this and despite all of this, the Blackhawks still found their way into the playoffs and then were faced with four grueling rounds of playoff hockey against four different but yet quality opponents culminating with all the head games that the Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to want to heap on the Hawks who by the way didn’t really even blink at.
In the end the Hawks were just the better team in every sense no disrespect to Tampa but it is true. Your time will come.
The Hawks had to face the physical demands against the Ducks who were hell-bent on decapitating them and overcame that, they faced a very good hockey team in the Nashville Predators who did seem maybe more concerned with keeping the red out in the stands than worrying about the highly talented “red machine” (thank you Duncan Keith for that) on the ice and overcame that.
They faced a very talented team in the Wild with the hottest goalie coming into the playoffs and answered that resoundingly with a series sweep. I guess you could say the Blackhawks were not ready to relinquish any of their championship mettle to any team.
The Blackhawks have an uncanny knack, instead of getting tired as series go on they get stronger and are closers. I truly believe if they did not get down in 2014 3-1 in games to the LA Kings they would have won that series and the Cup. Cie le vie it just fueled them for this year so it was just meant to be.
Coach Quenneville at the rally said that “team” best encapsulated this years Cup win and that is most definitely true. It took all four lines rolling, two goaltenders that were magnificent when called on and that defense what can you say warriors.
It was only fitting Duncan Keith won the Conn Smyth trophy. He is just symbolic of the entire defensive core and their committment to battle through adversity.
Chicago appreciate this as it is rare for this to keep occurring and every time there are new experiences.
How great was it to see guys get their first championships like Kimmo Timonen, Antoine Vermette or even Brad Richards get another ring after being tossed by the New York Rangers. Richards just fit Chicago better, I mean not every team can have Patrick Kane.
It was great to see new guys get their taste of potentially what more could be coming like Teuvo Teravainen and Trevor Van Riemsdyk who both had to overcome their own trials in the playoff but will be better off for it in the long run.
Championships are fun, you get parades, rallies, chasing the Cup around, great hockey games but maybe what makes championships great was summed up by Captain seriously Everything.
Jonathan Toews said and I’m paraphrasing that this is so much bigger than sports and he is right. It brings people together hockey fans, non-hockey fans it doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter your age, gender or race or ethnicity or religion or politics.
We all came together to support and rally our team on and for a brief millisecond we were bound by something in common a shared desire or feelings we could relate to and cheer on a group of extraordinary individuals who by the way are great guys, leaders and pretty good hockey players too.
Enjoy your summer boys you deserve it. Thank you for working so hard and bringing so many joy and pride to a city that has really fallen in love with this team. Thanks for some really great hockey.
As Captain Seriously Everything says next year “let’s go for four”. GO HAWKS!