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Tampa Bay Rays Show Their Support For Chicago Blackhawks

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon is known for his themed road trips. In the past, Maddon and his players had Miami Vice,  Western attire and even a Johnny Cash themed trip. But this time Maddon thought it would be appropriate to do an NHL theme because the team was headed to Toronto to play the Blue Jays while the Stanley Cup Finals were also going on.

Originally, the Rays players were just going to sport whatever hockey jersey they could find. (I can’t imagine that would be an easy task in Florida.) But luckily Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, a Chicago native, has a nephew who works in the Chicago Blackhawks ticketing department. He was able to pull a few strings and the Blackhawks offered to send jerseys to anyone who wanted one.

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Blackhawks Owner Tells Chicago to Boycott Orange During Cup Finals

The Stanley Cup Finals begin on Saturday night at the United Center in Chicago with the Blackhawks hosting the Philadelphia Flyers. In an act of superstition, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz is telling the people of Chicago to boycott everything orange — one of the primary colors of the Flyers.

“I’m taking every orange tie in my closet and throwing it out. Restaurants could take anything orange off the menu for the time being. Weekend, maybe. And no wearing orange.”

This is pretty cool. It would be even cooler if people actually listened and there was no orange around the city this weekend. It could very well happen. Blackhawks fever is rampant; even the famous Art Institute lions have gotten in the spirit and are sporting Blackhawks helmets.

So listen up Chicago, the following things are banned until the series is over: orange soda, orange juice, Doritos, Cheetos, carrots, goldfish (the actual fish and the delicious snack), any piece of orange clothing, sunsets, open flames, sherbet, actual oranges, and bad spray tans. Anything I left out that is orange is also prohibited.

As for Philadelphia, there are way too many things that are red to made a good list for you but apples, roses, strawberries, cherries, Coca Cola labels, ladybugs and traffic lights are a pretty good start. Although I wouldn’t really recommend boycotting red lights but hey, that’s your call.

Sources:
Blackhawks Boycott! Orange is Out [Chicago Sun-Times]

Mike Richards’ Determination Punches Philadelphia’s Ticket to Cup Finals

A lot of people don’t like the Flyers.  That comes with the territory of being a Philadelphia team, in the same way it does with Boston, New York and sometimes even Chicago teams.  People hate the teams where the fans are the craziest and most obnoxious.  Those four cities probably top that list.  However, you can’t discredit what the Philadelphia Flyers have been able to accomplish, regardless of your opinion of their team and/or fan base.  Any time a No. 7 seed is able to reach the Stanley Cup Finals — even if it meant only having to beat a No. 8 seed in the Conference Finals — you have to tip your hat to them and realize that they must have wanted it more than the other seven teams.

That certainly showed in their series with the Boston Bruins, when Philadelphia somehow managed to rally from three games down (and three goals down in Game 7) to defeat the Bruins, who were arguably the hottest team in the playoffs at the time.  Leadership takes on an enhanced role in postseason play in any sport, and Philly captain Mike Richards has shown he is more than willing to live up to the challenge.  Thanks in large part to his will to win, his Flyers are now headed to the Stanley Cup Finals to take on the Chicago Blackhawks.  Check out this video of Mike Richards laying it all on the line with a shorthanded goal and an assist in the clincher of the Eastern Conference Finals against Montreal, courtesy of The Sporting Blog.

Source:
Mike Richards’ Amazing Short-Handed Goal Propels Flyers To Finals, Likeability [The Sporting Blog]

Jonathan Toews Won’t Touch Trophy Yet

On Sunday, the Chicago Blackhawks punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup for the first time in 18 years.  After the Blackhawks became the Western Conference champions, 22-year-old captain Jonathan Toews was presented with the Clarence Campbell Bowl for winning the Western Conference, and he stayed the heck away from that thing.

Good move, Captain Serious. When it comes to my sports, I am extremely superstitious. I believe in growing playoff beards , always watching the game at the same bar, and wearing my favorite jersey for games. Back when the Chicago White Sox won the World Series, it was because of my lucky black and white socks. But to see the Hawks captain be as superstitious as me is pretty awesome.

The best thing about Toews not touching the trophy is the meaning behind the action. For him not to touch that trophy means that he won’t settle for less than the Stanley Cup. Toews wants it so bad apparently he loses sleep over it:

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Blackhawks Return to Stanley Cup Finals for First Time Since 1992

The Chicago Blackhawks wrapped up the Western Conference by sweeping the San Jose Sharks in their best of seven series, winning 4-2 on Sunday. The win sends Chicago to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1992.

Dustin Byfuglien became the game’s hero once again scoring on a power play in the third period to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead. Kris Versteeg scored the empty net goal with 42 seconds left to seal up the win for Chicago. Now that the Blackhawks have gotten past the Sharks, they await the winner of the Eastern Conference. The Flyers have a 3-1 series lead on the Canadiens with Game 5 set for Monday night.

If the Flyers advance the Blackhawks will face one of the toughest defenses in the NHL. If the Habs pull of the comeback, they will have a huge amount of momentum behind them heading into the finals. Plus, a Montreal win would produce a will be a true Original Six showdown — you can’t get much better than that.

Personally, I see the Flyers winning the East and going up against the Hawks for the Cup. As I said at the start of the playoffs, I see the Blackhawks taking the Stanley Cup back to Chicago because they are a young, hungry team. But for right now, Chicago is celebrating their sweep of the Sharks and a trip to the Cup.

Photo Credit: Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images

Chicago Blackhawks: Don’t Rest Easy Yet

On Friday night, the Chicago Blackhawks finally came home after an extended road trip from Vancouver to San Jose.  The San Jose Sharks were looking to win their first game of the series and avoid going down 3-0 in the Western Conference Finals. Well that’s exactly what happened.

The Sharks tied the game with about four minutes left in the third period and both teams failed to score before the clock wound down. It was time for some overtime hockey and at 12:24 in OT, Dustin Byfuglien scored his seventh playoff goal to win it for the Hawks. It was a good feeling to know that the Blackhawks could win a game at home.

Now, I didn’t see any looting Friday night like the fans of Montreal do after a win, but I did hear a lot of “We’ve got the Cup” talk.  No, we don’t. If the 2010 NHL playoffs have taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Who would have expected the Washington Capitals to be knocked out in the first round? Who would have expected it to be by the eighth seeded Montreal Canadiens? Who would expect those same Canadiens to knock out the defending Stanley Cup champs — the Pittsburgh Penguins? And who would expect it to be so hard for teams to win on their home ice during the playoffs?

All I can say is that it’s not over yet. The Blackhawks are within reach of their first shot at the Stanley Cup since ’92 and the Sharks are on the brink of being eliminated earlier than expected once again. Still, nothing has been finalized yet. The Boston Bruins have already proven that a 3-0 series lead can disappear in the blink of an eye.

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Caps Make Long-Term and Expensive Investment in Nicklas Backstrom

Even though the Washington Capitals were eliminated in the first round of the 2010 NHL Playoffs they have still given us something to talk about. The Caps announced Monday that they would be making another long-term investment by signing center Nicklas Backstrom to a 10-year, $67 million contact.

Hockey salaries rarely make the list for being pricey, but the Caps are already carrying Alexander Ovechkin’s salary of $124 million over 13 years, so what’s another $67 mil to them? The Caps are locking up one of the players who led them to their amazing regular season (maybe next year they won’t lose to an eight seed).

This is a good investment for the Caps. Backstrom and Ovechkin are now guaranteed to play together for a long time, which I’m sure makes other teams around the NHL cringe. Backstrom had a great year for the Caps with 100 points — 33 goals and 68 assists on the season. He also had an impressive seven multi-goal games in 2010. Another perk about Backstrom is that he has never missed a game.  Hopefully saying that won’t jinx his perfect attendance. Overall, the Caps are making a great investment in this young player that will prove to pay off in the long-term.

Sources:
Caps Signs Nicklas Backstrom to 10-year, $67 M Deal [Washington Post]