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Blackhawks Fans Need to Have Faith in Trades, Management

Fans of the Chicago Blackhawks are still celebrating. Even though three weeks have passed since they won the Stanley Cup, fans still sport their championship tees and hats with pride. (I know I do.) But fans in Blackhawks nation were shocked on Wednesday to hear that Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager and a prospect were traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for two 2010 draft picks and three players. On top of that, Colin Fraser was traded Thursday morning to the Edmonton Oilers for a 6th round 2010 draft pick.

The thing that upset people the most was that beloved Byfuglien would no longer be sporting the Indian head sweater. It was disappointing to see a player who is so talented on both sides of the puck leave Chicago. Big Buff has proved that he not only is a force on defense but that he is a heck of an offensive player too. He was a major factor in the Blackhawks championship run, whether it be his hat trick performance in Vancouver or the three game-winning goals he had against San Jose.

It’s hard news to swallow yes, but should we cry? No. The Blackhawks are running a very smart system; the front office turned the franchise around from having one of the worst records in the league to winning the Stanley Cup. The reality is that when it comes to cap space, some players have to go. I would have rather seen someone like Kris Versteeg, who has a relatively pricey salary, go but hey, that’s why I’m not the Blackhawks GM.

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Jonathan Toews: Blackhawks Want Another Cup

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has enjoyed an amazing year to say the least. He won a gold medal in Vancouver with the Canadian hockey team, the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs MVP, and oh yeah, he brought the Stanley Cup back to Chicago for the first time in 49 years.  And things haven’t stopped there. Despite playing the sidekick to Miley Cyrus at the 2010 MuchMusic Awards, Toews still has a reason to smile — he’ll be the cover boy of NHL ’11. (Two Blackhawks in a row, Patrick Kane graced this year’s cover.)

Regardless of all the accomplishments this year, Toews is still not satisfied. In one of the captain’s rare radio appearances, he told Waddle & Silvy on ESPN 1000 that he has no interest in handing over the Cup next year:

“We may not have said that publicly, but amongst each other in the euphoria of winning and celebrating with fans around us, jokingly and seriously we’ve said let’s do this again, and we mean it. The feeling is incredible, but we realize once the puck drops next year it’s back to business, and you have to find a new champion. We don’t want it to be a new champion. We want it to be us again.”

It’s hard for me to refrain from saying “Hell yeah!”…so I won’t. Hell yeah! Of course any team that wins a championship doesn’t want to lose it the next year — that’s just common sense. What I am excited about is that the Blackhawks, amongst their celebrating, are serious about next season. It’s not an easy task to repeat a championship and I’m glad the boys are already getting down to business. After all, their season starts on Oct. 7th in Colorado and that’s only less than four months away. Opposing teams are never easy on the defending champs but something tells me the ‘Hawks can do it again.

Sources:
Blackhawks’ Toews: Let’s Do it Again [ESPN Chicago]
Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Blackhawks Unite Chicago in Celebration

The Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years on Wednesday night at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. From the start of these Stanley Cup playoffs (granted I’m no Barry Melrose who called it at the beginning of the season), I said that the Blackhawks would reign victorious — and they did. There was no looting last night (Yup, I’m looking at you Montreal), but there were tears shed by Jeremy Roenick and there was a whole lot of cheering in the streets of Chicago.

The last time Chicago had a reason to celebrate was when the White Sox won the World Series in 2005, but only half the baseball fans in the city were happy. Last night however was different; hockey truly unified the city. There was no gloating by Sox fans nor any jealousy by Cubs fans — it was just one huge crowd of happy hockey fans who couldn’t believe what had just happened. No one cared about bandwaggoners or hugging complete strangers. All in all it was a beautiful site.

This team has given Chicago a ray of hope in an otherwise disappointing sports season. There’s nothing to cheer about on either side of town baseball-wise, the Chicago Bears were a bust, and the Bulls …well you all know my feelings about that. I’m glad I don’t have to give a broadcast today because quite honestly I barely have a voice. There was nothing better than watching this team win last night even though there was some confusion over Patrick Kane’s overtime goal.

The Blackhawks’ slogan has been “One Goal” for quite a while. Who would have known that would be all it took to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup? Just one goal and it was all over for the Philadelphia Flyers. Just one goal and a team whose captain, Jonathan Toews, can barely get into a bar would win MVP and make the fans of the Indian head proud. Just one goal and a city became one. So I say thank you Chicago Blackhawks for an amazing season and for bringing hockey back to Chicago. Thank you for giving us a reason to smile and even cry like JR (I cried last night too, don’t feel so badly).

Jeremy Roenick Cries After Hawks Win

The Chicago Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup beating the Flyers 4-3 in overtime of Game 6 in Philadelphia on Patrick Kane’s game-winning goal. Jeremy Roenick was in a unique position to provide analysis for the Stanley Cup Final because he played for both the Blackhawks and Flyers. After the game ended, Roenick was sharing some thoughts with Dan Patrick and Mike Milbury on NBC. Roenick became extremely emotional seeing the Blackhawks celebrate their first Cup in almost 50 years because he had played his first eight seasons for Chicago. Despite making four straight All-Star games for the Hawks, Roenick only made the Stanley Cup Final once in 1992 and his team came up short against the Penguins. No doubt Roenick was overcome with emotion seeing those guys celebrate the win and it got to the point where he started to tear up. Here’s the Jeremy Roenick crying video after Game 6:

It bothers me that Milbury was giving Roenick so much crap for showing his emotion on the telecast. It’s not about how good of a career Roenick had, it’s about what it means to win the Cup. Roenick never got to celebrate like that, and although he’s proud, we were privileged to see the genuine emotion of how much winning that Cup means. I’m glad that Roenick shared with us his real feelings so we could truly understand what it meant for those players to win it and get to live their dream.

Patrick Kane on Game-Winner: Holy Crap!

Though only 21-years-old, winger Patrick Kane just cemented his status as a hero in Chicago. Kane scored the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final giving the Blackhawks a 4-3 win over the Flyers. Kane went five-hole on Michael Leighton and began celebrating immediately though the refs had a delayed goal call. Once the call was confirmed, it was official and the Blackhawks won the Cup for the first time since 1961. Here’s the video of Patrick Kane’s game-winning goal that provided Chicago with the Stanley Cup:

After scoring the game-winner, Kane told NBC that scoring the game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup Final was a dream come true. Then, Kane encapsulated the feelings of all Blackhawks fans saying “I can’t believe this just happened … holy crap!” The brash youngster who’s made his share of head-turning comments then was told to be on his best behavior for the parade. His response? “Not a chance, not a chance!” Somehow I’m guessing Chicago fans wouldn’t have wanted to hear anything else.

M.J. Supports Blackhawks, Some Fans Didn’t Want Him There

Game 5 of the Stanley Cup took place on Sunday night at the United Center in Chicago. Among the usual star-studded crowd of celebrities like Vince Vaughn and former Chicago Blackhawks players Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Tony Esposito, there was another Chicago legend in the crowd — Michael Jordan.

It was only a couple months ago that Jordan became the new Charlotte Bobcats owner and confused his new city with Chicago. Was this a hint that Jordan missed the Windy City? Well his airness showed up to the United Center to watch the Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers battle it out for a series lead. The UC is often called “The House that Jordan Built,” but despite that some people were upset he was there.

Rumors are swirling around Chicago that Michael Jordan is telling top free agents like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade not to come to the Chicago Bulls. It’s hard to know if that’s true, but I have a message to those unwelcoming fans: Sunday night was not about basketball. Jordan is a legend in Chicago. If MJ wants to show up to support one of the local teams then I will welcome him with open arms. Is it really smart to sit here and complain about the man who brought six championships to Chicago when there are already the negative recruiting rumors out there? No, it’s not. If there’s any truth to those rumors it only gives Jordan more of a reason to tell players to stay away from the city and fans.

Like I said, last night wasn’t about basketball. The coolest thing about M.J.’s presence in the building had to be the jersey he was wearing. Jordan owns a custom 23 Blackhawks jersey, but he chose to sport a Jonathan Toews jersey for Game 5. I would think for Toews that had to be an amazing feeling to see Michael Jordan wearing your jersey. At the end of the day I think it’s stupid to get upset about Jordan being there; Blackhawks fans should be happy that their team won instead of focusing on someone who showed up to support them.

Photo Credit: Mouthpiece Sports

Stanley Cup Refs Missing Too Many Calls

Wednesday night, we not only had an MLB umpire blowing a perfect game for Tigers pitcher Armando Galarrgga, but apparently the NHL Stanley Cup referees were also out of it. The problem is the missed calls were not limited to Game 3 of the series — the referees have been missing calls against both the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers the entire series.

Now before you jump to conclusions that I’m angry because of some Blackhawks favoritism (and the fact that they lost), I want you to know that’s not the case; there are some plays that the Blackhawks got away with too. What stood out as the most egregious error was the refs missing a boarding call on this hit by Chris Pronger on Patrick Kane:

Kaner’s helmet was knocked off because of that hit from Pronger. What did the refs do? Well they didn’t call boarding like they should have. That was the second time that Pronger had gone after Kane and it was pretty obvious he had it out for him. But hey, that’s hockey.

I’m cool with players going after one another — that’s just adds to the competitive nature of the game. But when you have Pronger who is 6’6″ and 220 pounds targeting Kane who is 5’8″ and 178 pounds, there is something wrong with that. Flyers fans almost saw Kane’s bones break right in front of them. I guess that’s why they call them the “Orange Crush”.

The point of this is that NHL refs need to pay closer attention to some of these plays. Not just for the Blackhawks, but also for the Flyers too — this is the Stanley Cup Finals. The only positive I did see from Pronger going after Kane last night was that Kane wasn’t going to back down. It reminded me of the heart that he showed during the Gold Medal Game at the Vancover Olympics. The kid might actually be growing some cojones instead of shying away from every check that comes his way.