It’s a dynasty. At least, it is in the words of Gary Bettman. Whether or not the Hockey Hall of Fame raises this team to official status is to be determined. Three Cups in six years is no small feat, especially in a supposed era of parity. The Hall’s most recent dynasty, the 1984-90 Edmonton Oilers won 5 in 7 in the loose and fast 1980s; adjusting for the dead puck salary capped era, and I think you’ve got a compelling case that, in 2010-2015, three Cups is equivalent.
What can I say about this Blackhawks team? I feel like I’ll be repeating myself from both two years ago, and, if you simply replaced “Kings” from last year, it would sound basically the same. The Kings might have been the league’s flagship franchise for three-ish years, but it’s obvious the Blackhawks have always been the true power in this NHL. Since 2009, they’ve won three Stanley Cups, made the Conference Final twice, were an overtime goal away from pulling off the reverse sweep against Vancouver in 2011, and five overtime goals from more-or-less beating Phoenix in 2012. That last one’s a stretch, but I give them a pass because they were still reeling from 2010’s post-Cup salary cap caused explosion and Phoenix was nearly a team of destiny that year themselves. Chicago is the best team now, period. It’s indisputable. I am supremely envious. I want nothing but the same thing for Buffalo. If The Plan works out, we might just get it.
I thought this series was pretty good; weird, but good. Each game was exciting, a bounce or two away from going the other way — in Game One that literally happened at the end. The next two were track meets driven by the speed of the Lightning’s and the Hawks’ forwards, with Bishop’s unfortunate groin tear (OW!) slowing his heretofore dominance. His ugly brain fart in Game Five proved to be somewhat of a mental blast for the Lightning, who sllowed the worst Cup Final goal since at least 2007 and never recovered to score more than one goal for the rest of the series. On the other hand, it was the outstanding Hawks defense, anchored by beast-mode Duncan “Conn Smythe” Keith, shutting down almost every chance thrown their way. It was fun to watch, at least. Not quite on par with recent Western Conference Finals or 2013 though. No overtimes, so that’s a mark against. Just a solid series, I’d say.
Now the Hawks’ core has three rings each. The last one they earned at home for the first time since 1938. The Cup was late, delayed by weather, which is shades of what happened back in ’38 when the Cup wasn’t even there at all. The red sea was sloshing gleefully all the while. It’s hard not to love the Blackhawks’ home jerseys. It’s a classic look, made legendary by their current success. The logo… eh, not crazy about it. The brown doesn’t mesh with the red, however the multi-colored feathers are an element that really ties it all together, in my opinion. The 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cups were won on the road by a squad in white. While I enjoy the aesthetics of the home set, the road set I find very ugly. Nearly monochrome, no vibrance, boring. If the Hawks were destined to win this Cup, I’m glad they finally did it at home.
Party on, Chicago. The rest of the league is gunning for you next year. I hope somebody else succeeds; in an age of parity, I can only handle so many Hawks/Kings Cups at once. But, since the pattern’s been Kings/Hawks alternating for the last four years, I might as well pencil in LA to win next year, right? I’ll put them down on my list right next to the San Francisco Giants…
The Draft is nine days away. Nine days from history for at least two franchises. I expect a multitude of Draft day trades, especially from those well-to-do teams who can’t afford to pay their second-tier stars. Free agency has been somewhat of a bust lately, so I’m not holding my breath for July 1. It’s officially* summer. Time to hibernate until the fall.
See you again next year, bracket. Wonder what changes the coming months will bring?
*Like a white raven and winter, the raising of the Stanley Cup signifies the start of summer. What, that’s not actually true?