I'm both surprised and disappointed to hear the doom-and-gloom scenarios scuttling through the cyber-community of Blackhawks hockey after their no-show in St. Louis Saturday night. Have expectations really grown that exponentially in the past 2 months? Yes, it was a divisional match-up, yes, second place was on the line, yes, the Hawks were the only team not to show up even though the Blues also played Friday night, in Minnesota, in an overtime loss.
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I simply want to say to Hawk Nation "stop worrying" and I'll tell you why. It struck me in the second period of the 'Yotes game Friday night. Right after Tuomos' second goal, I turned to my friends in the rafters of United Centre, and I said, "The Hawks have 'The Look'." The same "look" of the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox. Like that legendary championship team, the Hawks didn't start the season with "The Look", nor did it appear it was going to happen any time soon. This is an intangible aura that builds slowly, internally, a combination of growing confidence, skill and, let's admit it, lucky bounces. Suddenly, one night, it manifests itself, there's a spark, and those who follow the team are immediately aware that they've been watching something grow before their very eyes, something of which they're just now becoming aware.
Ozzie Guillen, manager of the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox, called it "killer instinct". You could smell victory, or at the very least, the potential for victory, almost every time the White Sox took the field in 2005. The "Killer Instinct" of the 2005 White Sox ensured that when they had an opponent down, they never let up, never took the pressure off, and almost never gave them the slightest chance to get back into the game. That championship season was a dazzling whirlwind of come-from-behind ninth inning victories, breathtaking double plays, masterful, timely strike-outs, and, above all, the never-say-die attitudes and unshakable faith that every game could be won.
Sound familiar? It should. These championship attributes are all manifest in our 2008 Chicago Blackhawks. I freely admit I left the Dallas game early. My lesson is well-learned, I'll never leave early again. Like the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox, these Hawks are finding ways to get it done. They're never out of a game, and, as we've seen lately, when they have a team down, they never let up, they keep attacking, looking for more offense, sending a message both to their opponent and to the Hawk faithful that they know they're standing at the precipice of something fantastic.
Four-for-four against Detroit? Come on. Three short-handed goals in one game? Against Detroit? Be serious. Patrick Sharp with more short-handed goals than the Ottawa Senators? Yougottabekiddinme. These are all red flags, Hawk Nation, that something is happening. It's starting to click, and whether it's luck or whether we're creating our own breaks, it's unfolding before your eyes.
Success feeds upon itself, as does failure. The Blackhawks are now so skilled, and have so much potential, that failure has become a choice, as opposed to the unavoidable fate resigned to in previous years. Sometimes, when I watch Kane and Toews, I think to myself that they're so young they have no idea of the magic they're creating out there, so effortlessly, so instinctively. United Centre is coming alive again. The Hawks recently made the cover of "Hockey News". Like the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox, the Hawks have flown under the radar for so long, the rest of the league is down and out before they know what hit them.
What the Hawk faithful need to keep in mind, however, is that even the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox didn't go 162 - 0. There were plenty of games where they got their heads kicked in, but they had the confidence and skill to re-group and rebound. They knew, like I believe the Hawks know, that they're better than that, above that beating they took. And they learned and grew from their mistakes. And another thing to keep in mind, as Hawk faithful, is that we're hanging a huge amount of hope on the shoulders of two 19-year-old kids. This instant-gratification mindset that has become ingrained in our society simply has no place in sport; you'll get your heart broken more often than not.
So everybody, please, take a deep breath and enjoy the magic that's beginning to unfold before us at United Centre. Enjoy each home game you're at for the beauty and majesty of the game itself, and the wonderful opportunity we all have to be witnesses to the renaissance of the greatest sport in the world in the greatest city in the world. It'll happen, it's coming...and just as the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox captured the hearts and souls of every baseball fan in Chicago, the Blackhawks will once again regain the respect, prominence and success they once had in Chicago. Be patient, everyone...this flight will have some turbulence, but the destination is back on the radar; the Hawks have "The Look".
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