As you know, my favorite hockey team won the Stanley Cup this year. I’m happy. Hell, I’m ecstatic. Patrick Kane scored the game-winning goal. Jonathan Toews won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP. And Antti Niemi proved that he was the real deal.
Still, there are several ways that this year’s Cup victory could have been better for this longtime Blackhawks fan—6 ways, to be exact.
6. If Patrick Kane’s goal was immediately decisive
Patrick Kane scored the game-winning overtime goal in Game 6, and at first only he realized it. After a moment of confusion, the goal was announced. An anti-climactic end to a hard-fought series. What really would have been great is if Kane’s goal was an instantaneous death blow, causing ‘Hawk fans everywhere to jump to their feet and cheer in unison.
5. If Denis Savard was still the Head Coach of the Blackhawks
Now, don’t get me wrong—I think Joel Quenneville is doing a great job. I hope “Q” sticks around for a long time.
But Denis Savard holds a special place for lots of Blackhawks fans. He was the face of the team in the 1980s, and we all had high hopes for him as the team’s head coach. It is a shame that he was not allowed to grow as a coach, while his charges grew as players. That would have made this Cup win extra sweet.
4. If Jeremy Roenick was on the Blackhawks
Jeremy Roenick retired after the end of the 2008-09 season, but he probably had another year in the tank left—especially if it was for the Chicago Blackhawks.
What I don’t get is, if the ‘Hawks needed an “old guy” to provide leadership, why did they sign John Madden instead of Roenick? Sure, Madden won two Cups with New Jersey and “knows how to win,” as the adage goes. But who would you rather watch play hockey, Roenick or Madden
Signing Roenick to a 1-year deal would have somewhat made amends for his unceremonious trade in 1996. It would have given him one more shot at winning the Stanley Cup. And most importantly, it would have allowed JR to retire as a Blackhawk.
3. If Chris Chelios was on the Blackhawks
Now, I wouldn’t have expected the Blackhawks to bring back both Roenick AND Chris Chelios.
But one or the other would have placated 1990s fans. Remember, these were my guys in the 1990s. Chelios was the heart and soul of the franchise back then. Trading him and Roenick away made the ‘Hawks suck for nearly a decade.
Why did the ‘Hawks have bit-player d-men like Nick Boynton and Jassen Cullimore on the roster, when Chelios’ services were available? He could have been that 7th or 8th “depth defenseman.” Chelios winning the Cup with Chicago would have made this grown fan cry, and allowed the future Hall of Famer to end his career with dignity.
2. If Pat Foley was doing the play-by-play
All Blackhawks fans would agree that—while Mike Emerick is a great play-by-play announcer—the Stanley Cup Finals would have been better if narrated by Blackhawks broadcaster Pat Foley. The guy is a legend in Chicago—like a smarter, sober equivalent to Harry Cary of Chicago Cubs fame. (Non-Chicago viewers might remember him from SportsChannel or Fox Sports broadcasts). Foley is also arguably the biggest ‘Hawks fan there is. Hearing him shout “Hawks WIN the Stanley Cup!” would have been pure rhapsody.
1. If the Blackhawks clinched the series at home
I am in no way suggesting that I wanted this series to go to a Game 7. That would be too nerve-wracking.
But nothing compares to seeing your team win a championship at home. Imagine, the Stanley Cup skated around the ice at the United Center, while 20,000 frenzied fans in the audience cheered. Alas, it was not meant to be.
Two times, I experienced this feeling when the minor-league Chicago Wolves won league championships in 1998 and 2002.
In 1998, and with 10 minutes left in the deciding game, fans took to their feet and applauded nearly the whole time as the Wolves clung to a lead and won the series. It was the best hockey game I ever attended.
In 2002, the Wolves won the deciding game in overtime. A split-second after 17,000 screaming fans jumped to their feet, confetti rained down as fireworks shot from the scoreboard. Best celebration ever.
When the Blackhawks were awarded the Stanley Cup, sadly they were also awarded a chorus of boos from the Philadelphia fans…while their own fans applauded from afar. It is truly a shame that both Blackhawks players and Blackhawks fans were denied the remarkable experience of winning a championship at home.
Nonetheless, a win is a win. A championship is still a championship.