Editor/founder of Cheer the Anthem, season ticket holder in Section 326 and full-time sports writer who lists June 9, 2010, as one of the greatest days of his life. Contact him at email@example.com.
Posts by Bartl
NOTE: In every sports-themed movie, each character plays a distinctive role for their fictional squad. Blackhawks Theather will compare those characters and their roles with those of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. This segment will run each and every day for the next month at 10 a.m. CST. That should keep us all busy up to and throughout the Capocalypse. Enjoy.
At their age, the amount of talent possessed by each of these wunderkinds stopped people in their tracks to catch a glimpse. And like many young talents with money and fame coming so quickly, the ego and sense of invincibility took over at times.
No one every questioned the potential of Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh (Bull Durham). The kid threw 100 m.p.h and could strike out any hitter at any given time. Lack direction, his ego led to a bar fight with a veteran over a woman and his sexual escapades became more important to him than his control. He struggled in the face of having to tone down his attitude and ego with some direction, and eventually “Nuke” ended up in The Show, knowing exactly what to say when confronted by the media.
Patrick Kane draws a parallel. His off-season arrest for a confrontation with a Buffalo cab driver humbled him to the podium in front of his toughest critics to deliver an emotionless speech before USA training camp. If that wasn’t enough of a lesson, photos surfaced of Kane and teammates with their shirts off partying in a limo in Vancouver. Once again, he was forced to explain himself.
Sometimes we all forget athletes are human beings, too. If I was asked to tell stories of my days as a 21-year-old single male to people ready to make judgments, my presence would be banned in 30 states. The spotlight thrust the lives of “Nuke” and Kane into the public eye, and they struggled coming to grips with it.
The main comparison? Both “Nuke” and Kane succeeded and reached their ultimate goal — “Nuke” to The Majors, Kane winning the Stanley Cup. Maybe a little shit storm when you’re young isn’t all that bad.
Once again, I appeared on the HOCKEENIGHT PUCKCAST with Forklift and CT to discuss a whole bunch of shit. However, I stayed pretty much silent during Fork’s tales of Cuban beastiality. No joke, he talked about some Cuban guy having sex with animals.
I just wanted to post a quick thank you to those who have consistently come to Blackhawk Up throughout this season to read my passionate ramblings and continuous use of random four-letter words.
When I started Blackhawk Up in July of last year, I never expected the following I would gather and that the growth of the site would happen so quickly. It’s been less than a year I’ve been swearing at you, and all the kind words through comments, emails, Facebook messages and Twitter re-tweets have been absolutely amazing.
All of you made the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup that much sweeter for one specific reason: I got to share in the experience with all of you. It’s been a wild ride to this point, and there’s so much more to go.
Get on your Hossa, ride into the off-season with a smile on your face and continue to check in to this site through the summer months. I have some big stuff planned, so there won’t be a shortage of content during hockey’s brief summer hiatus.
Once again, thank you to everyone who continues to read Blackhawk Up. You make the time I spend on each and every word I write completely and totally worthwhile. Thank you.
I’ve posted this before, and it deserves more attention. The puck set is beautiful, and the proceeds to go charity. Don’t be cheap. Go get yourself a set.
Hawks Fans Can Celebrate Stanley Cup Title
With Special Commemorative 2-Puck Set with Cases
Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Illinois
Smiling As Hawks End 49-Year Drought
Only 5,000 Special Cup Items Will Be Produced To Raise Funds
For Youngsters Who Have Life-Threatening Illnesses
Chicago– It’s almost like a bunch of cobwebs have been removed and replaced by young and middle-aged cheering fans. It is a new ERA for Chicago Blackhawks fans, a season that finally ended with a bang, not a whimper.
For the first time in 49 years, the fabled Stanley Cup will now call Chicago home, as the Blackhawks stunned the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-3, in overtime on Patrick Kane’s goal in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on June 9, ending decades of frustration for their loyal fans. The last time the Hawks were Cup champs was in 1961, when John F. Kennedy was in the White House.
And no one is any happier than the youngsters at the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Illinois, many of who have life-threatening medical conditions and depend on this organization to fulfill some special wishes. Just like these young boys and girls who never give up hope, fans of the Blackhawks never gave up on winning the Stanley Cup again.
And to help celebrate this special hockey moment, and raise some needed funds for the local Make-A-Wish kids, Nikco Sports announced it will be offering a special, limited edition commemorative Stanley Cup championship 2-puck set manufactured by Sherwood Hockey, the official hockey puck of the NHL, complete with display cases, to preserve this special time in Chicago sports history. Only 5,000 sets will be produced, with the goal of adding to the more than $1.7 million that Nikco Sports has raised for children’s charities in recent years.
The two pucks are licensed by the National Hockey League and can be ordered on a first-come basis for $39.95 by calling 1-800-345-2868 or ordering online at www.nikcosports.com. Each purchase comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity to enhance the value and collectibility of this special piece of sports memorabilia. There will be a limit of 5 sets per order, to ensure that as many Blackhawks fans as possible get a piece of history.
The Blackhawks team puck will feature the historic and colorful Hawks official team logo, and salute their four Stanley Cup championships won in 1933-34, 1937-38 and 1960-61 and the latest one during the 2009-2010 season. It will also list the conference titles captured in 1992 and 2010 and acknowledge their 14 Division titles. On this puck will be the words “Stanley Cup Champions.” Any customer who ordered the limited edition set recently when it was introduced as a Stanley Cup appearance puck set will have their sets upgraded to include Stanley Cup Champions.
The second puck is a tribute to the 2009-2010 season and will have the official Stanley Cup logo and Western Conference logo and then a recap of each playoff series triumph over Nashville, Vancouver, San Jose and Philadelphia, as well as celebrating the Hawks 52-22-8 (OT): Points–112 Season Record and Central Division Championship, giving Hawks fans a great way to reflect back on the many happy moments during the season.
The Hawks finished the playoffs by winning 16 of 22 contests. Many Hawks fans still point to a last second goal by Kane in Game 5 of the opening series against Nashville that tied the game and propelled the Hawks to beat the Predators in overtime as a key turning point. Chicago went on to win that series, 4 games to 2, then did the same thing in the second round against Vancouver. That led to a 4-0 sweep in a tight series against the San Jose Sharks. The Hawks won 2-1, 4-2, 3-2 (OT) and 4-2.
Then came a 4-2 series victory over the Flyers, including the clincher in OT.
It seemed like most every game was a nail biter.
“Chicago was a team of destiny, with its never-say-die attitude and hard work ethic,” noted Nikco Sports CEO Craig Bidner. “Blackhawks fans waited a very long time to win another Stanley Cup, and the celebration in Chicago will go on for weeks, if not all summer. It was quite the season. The way this team battled and worked hard reminds me of how so many youngsters who are involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Illinois also battle on an ongoing basis. It makes our staff at Nikco Sports proud to play a small part in this special Stanley Cup commemorative program that is raising funds for these deserving youngsters.”
During the past several years, Nikco Sports has raised more than $1.7 million for charitable organizations across the nation with the issue of limited-edition sports memorabilia that has honored amateur and professional teams, as well as select athletes such athletes as Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Jerome Bettis, Ben Roethlisberger, along with Peyton Manning, Jim Kelly, Carson Palmer, Steve Young, John Elway, David Robinson, John Stockton, Magic Johnson, Roger Clemens, Ryne Sandberg, Paul Molitor, Kirby Puckett, Edgar Martinez, Ichiro, Ozzie Smith, Mark McGwire, Ken Griffey Jr., Nolan Ryan, Tony Gwynn, Craig Biggio and Cal Ripken Jr.
Game 4, 1992 Stanley Cup Final. Mario Lemieux saw a 10-year-old boy pressed along the glass during the pre-game skate. Lemieux snatch a puck from the ice, lofted it over the glass into the boy’s tiny hands, winked and skated away.
That boy was me, and since that day my passion for hockey never died. When I saw Lemieux circling the Chicago Stadium ice with the Stanley Cup later that night, I hoped one day I would witness a Blackhawk doing the exact same thing.
Never let anyone tell you dreams don’t come true.
The rough stretches, the questionable trades which ran heroes out of town too soon, the edge of the cliff on which the franchise teetered for years, money invested, time spent, heart-shattering losses, watching the hated Red Wings win four Cups … it was all worth it. It will always be worth it. June 9, 2010 is a day only death can take away from me.
People wonder how I can talk this way about a team, a game. “There are more important things in life than sports,” they say, all while updating their Facebook status and planning their entire night around an episode of Jersey Shore. “How can you be so emotional over that stuff?”
With all the uncertainties in life, all the emotions spent on everyday events and questioning of the decisions you make day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute, it’s always guaranteed your team will begin play on the first day of the season at the same time every year. The players may struggle, may disappoint and you’ll even question your loyalty. But no matter what, you’re always given the option to struggle with them or share in their joy. And when you invest yourself hoping for the opportunity to witness something as amazing as Stanley Cup championship, it’s a feeling you’ll remember for the rest of your life. There’s not many things you can say that about.
Patrick Kane scoring just over four minutes into overtime erased 49 years of Blackhawks fans feeling the disappointment of watching another team and another city embrace the Stanley Cup. People poured out into the streets, and hundreds of thousands of fans will rally for the parade tomorrow in downtown Chicago.
The waiting is over, the dream has been realized and the memory is ingrained.
And do you know what the best part is? We’re guaranteed to do this all over again next year.
It ends tonight. No more worrying, no more nervousness, no more games at the United Center. I’m ready for the 2009-10 hockey season to be over, and so are the Blackhawks.
Most sports experts will tell us the pressure rests on the ‘Hawks tonight to close out the series in Philadelphia and avoid coming back to Chicago for an always-tense Game 7. Well, forget it. Not only are the Flyers fighting for their season tonight, Q-Stache laid out the blueprint for victory in Game 5. His line shuffling had the Flyers on their heels most of the night, and it’s up to Peter Laviolette and Philadelphia to provide resistence to the Blackhawks new-look attack.
In Game 3, Laviolette’s last-change advantage led to Philadelphia’s OT winner as the ‘Hawks struggled to get their desired personnel on the ice. He’ll use that same advantage tonight in hopes of countering the ‘Hawks offense. Still, he needs to figure out when to put Chris Pronger on the ice now that Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien have been split up.
The Flyers’ aggressive forecheck didn’t do much to keep the ‘Hawks at bay, especially in the first period when most of the damage was done. In Game 4, Philadelphia caused havoc in the Blackhawks’ zone with Mike Richards making the most notable play when he swiped the puck from Niklas Hjalmarsson and slipping it five-hole past Antti Niemi. They’ll need more of that tonight to create more offense for guys like Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux and Ville Leino – all of whom the Blackhawks are having trouble containing.
Michael Leighton will get the start tonight after being yanked for the second time in the series in Game 5. Niemi has been sketchy for most of the series, and the Blackhawks will need his top performance to withstand the Flyers, who are sure to come out amped in front of their home crowd.
OK, I’m done analyzing this game because my stomach is turning writing this. Bottom line, the Blackhawks have a chance to clinch their first Stanley Cup championship in 49 years.
Go get it, ‘Hawks.
Never would I have expected to see something like this from the Chicago Tribune. This is New York Post kind of stuff. I can’t remember the last time the Trib so blatently made fun of an opposing player with graphic like this. By no means am I saying this isn’t creative, but even the Chicago blogs haven’t come up with anything like this for him yet.
The above photo is a bit fuzzy when it comes to the writing, so sorry about that. Under ‘Chrissy Pronger,’ it says, “Looks like Tarzan, skates like Jane.” The overall knock to Pronger is quite obviously there, as the Trib traded his hockey pants for a skirt. But of course, they showed a bit of respect to Pronger, writing underneath the puck labled ’100%’, “… CHANCE we’ll change our minds if Hawks sign him.”
Not so sure about that…
Here’s some humor to start the show:
One more. One. More.
Whoever bought the six cases of 5 Hour Energy the Blackhawks slammed before face-off, promote them and grant them sexual favors. The ‘Hawks started the game flying up and down the ice and had an answer for everything the Flyers threw at them in Sunday’s 7-4, Game 5 victory. It’s back to Philadelphia, and the Stanley Cup will be in the building.
These are the Blackhawks we’ve been waiting to see — slightly modified, of course. As many expected, Q-Stache shuffled up the lines and separated Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien for the majority of even-strength shifts. It seemed to work out for everyone.
Toews was a beast all night, Kane potted a goal off a beautiful feed from Andrew Ladd and Byfuglien looked like a man possessed. Buff scored twice and splattered Chris Pronger into the boards on a couple different occasions while being extremely effective in every aspect of the game. Kaner joked at the post-game press conference about Byfuglien: “Yeah, he gets rid of us then starts producing.”
Kris Versteeg scored possibly the biggest goal of the night when he put the ‘Hawks up 3-0 and chased Michael Leighton in the first period. The Flyers needed only 32 seconds (more on this later) at the start of the second period before Scott Hartnell’s goal cut the lead back to two. Without Versteeg’s goal, the game would’ve had a completely different feel being a one-goal game at that point after the ‘Hawks dominated the first period.
Giving a hell of a lot of credit to Philadelphia, it never went away and was within inches of completely turning the game in its favor. If the Flyers took more advantage of some iffy goaltending by Antti Niemi, who was out of position on at least three great chances for Philly, they could easily be heading home with the series lead.
Alas, the ‘Hawks survived the threats and will have a chance to close this bitch out Wednesday.
Stuff and things…
– How rewarding is it that Pronger played like a complete pile of shit? That big, goofy asshole was minus-5 in 28:47 of ice time, deflected Brent Seabrook’s shot into the net off his skate, took a beating from and was rendered ineffective by Byfuglien and watched one of Buff’s goals from the penalty box. Justice.
As the clock wound down, Ben Eager picked up the puck and skated toward the benches. I can only hope he tried to give it to Pronger and said, “Here, you want this one, too?”
– The refs were absolutely horrendous for both sides tonight. They missed obvious high-sticking penalties when Brian Campbell and Daniel Briere almost had parts of their face torn off. Dicks.
– Marian Hossa. He’s… I would bear his children. He might get arrested tonight just for being so damn awesome.
– Byfuglien also had two assists. He should be allowed to skate around the Flyers’ next practice with a giant middle finger in the air for 12-15 minutes.
– Kind of a disheartening stat: The Flyers have answered a Blackhawks goal with one of their own within two minutes 4 times in the series, and they’ve scored 4 goals in either the first or last minute of the period. Not cool. It’s the Stanley Cup Final. We’ve heard a lot about momentum and while I believe overall “momentum” heading into the next game is a bit overrated, momentum within a game is not. Especially on the road in Game 6, this kind of shit can’t happen.
– The Blackhawks are still losing sight of Flyers creeping to the net from behind the cage. Briere missed two golden opportunities tonight in which he was pretty much standing by himself. Scoring seven goals made us overlook this a bit, especially since the ‘Hawks took it too the Flyers offensively most of the game. However, blown coverage bit the ‘Hawks in the ass multiple times this series. Keep your eyes peeled, fellas, and tighten up along the blue line to disrupt the Flyers’ rush into the zone.
– I’m not sure what’s scarier: Brent Sopel and Nick Boynton with their hideous faces standing in front of me in a dark alley, or the two of them being paired up on defense.
– Peter Laviolette is the biggest sore loser in hockey. If the Flyers win, he sits at the post-game press conference with a smile on his face like he’s getting a blowjob under the table from Megan Fox. After a loss, he’s the biggest jerk to every single media member asking so much as a simple question that would require a simple 20-second answer. He talks down to everyone and treats them as if they know nothing, and it’s the most egotistical, smug thing I’ve ever witnessed. He could take a page out of Q-Stache’s book when it comes to dealing with the media. You have to do it, so suck it up and answer the goddamn question like a man and not a smug pansy.
The NHL is channeling its inner-NBA by giving the ‘Hawks and Flyers two days off between games. We have to wait until Wednesday for the Blackhawks to play in their first potential Stanley Cup-clincher since 1961. Damn that sounds awesome.
Following Game 4, myself and McClure of Second City Hockey discussed his optimism and my pessimism for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Final. It ended with McClure giving me a hug.
I’m still not in a good frame of mind. I’ve come to realize fans in Chicago either overreact or don’t react enough when it comes to sports. There’s no in between. Everyone has gone from, “Eh, we’re going to sweep this series and the Flyers have no chance,” to, “OMFG what are we gonna do? It’s over. It’s over! IT’S OVER!”
Granted, I’m leaning more on the side that we’re in trouble. Tell me all you want about how history is on the side of the team which takes a 2-0 series lead. But if you’re referencing that, you’re forgetting 41 of the last 45 teams which has won Game 4 ended up hoisting the Cup. History isn’t on our side anymore.
Luckily, the Blackhawks and Flyers have to play hockey and neither team will win the Cup because of a penmanship contest on paper. Now, I have both good news and bad news leading up to Game 5.
THE GOOD NEWS
The Blackhawks are yet to play their best game.
One of the most prolific offenses in the NHL has been pretty much strapped, despite Game 1′s six-goal outburst. Brian Campbell and Duncan Keith have played tremendous on D through the first four games, but the blue-line unit as a whole has been less than spectacular. Antti Niemi has played well, but he also hasn’t been “Sharks” good. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien haven’t done close to what we — and they — expected.
Why is this good? Hopefully it means the best game is coming, the stellar play of Marian Hossa in this series will be matched by everyone and the ‘Hawks will show us the team we’ve known and loved throughout the season and playoffs. It has to happen, right?
THE BAD NEWS
The Blackhawks are yet to play their best game.
Nope, that’s not a copy-and-paste fail. The good news and bad news are both the same. Why is this bad? Well, we’re four games into the biggest playoff series for this franchise since 1992, it’s the Stanley Cup Final and the Blackhawks are by far the more talented team. The fact the Blackhawks are yet to show the Flyers their best game is concerning.
The Blackhawks served up Game 3 to the Flyers with poor decisions and giveaways. Bounces didn’t go their way. It seemed as if each loose puck ended up on the stick of a Flyer. My thought has always been bounces go a certain way for one reason — the team receiving those bounces takes the luck factor out of it. While the Blackhawks played the overall better game in Game 3, Philadelphia skaters were in the right place at the right time and Michael Leighton was in the position he needed to be more often than not.
The penalty disparity in this series is absolutely atrocious and each referee should be ashamed of himself. Friday night’s 5-on-3 advantage not withstanding, Philadelphia has received nearly every single call in this series. How Chris Pronger has only been in the box once through four games is reason enough to ban these crews from refereeing another Stanley Cup Final for their careers. I hate to use the officiating as an excuse, but when I have Flyers fans telling me the refs have given Philadelphia the upper hand in this series I know there’s validity to what I’m saying.
LINE CHANGES APLENTY?
Who knows. Q-Stache can be creative, and we all haven’t been a fan of his panic-switch changes. However, Justin Bourne put together a good read on how changes have a positive influence on the mindset of a player and how it could benefit the ‘Hawks. Check it out.
Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear whichever team wins Game 5 will win the Cup. I firmly believe this series ends in Philly on Tuesday night. The problem? I’m not sure if it’ll be Toews or Mike Richards hoisting the Cup.
Puck drop is 7 p.m. CST from the United Center. Time to get nasty.