So the Blackhawks are in the Finals. Lord save us. I can not think of another result that wasn’t Red Wing-related that pissed me off so much. Watching that game yesterday, I had the sense that the Hawks were going to inevitably tie the game up and win, much in the same way I knew the Sharks were going to win Game 5 against the Wings. As soon as the empty netter was scored, I turned the game off; there was no way I wanted to see the Hawks celebrate getting closer to winning the Stanley Cup.
First, a note to the Sharks: seriously? That was the team that beat the Wings 4 out of 5 times? I can’t believe that. Now, I can’t say with any certainty that the Wings would have beaten the Hawks 4 out of 7 times. But I do know one thing: they would have won a FUCKING GAME! Talk about rolling over and dying. At no point in any game during this series did I get the sense that the Sharks belonged here. They were awful in every aspect. And to every journalist who wrote about Jumbo Joe shedding his “choker” label, I better see some retractions, because he was absolutely invisible in this series.
Back to the Hawks. I can’t say I’m surprised they are in the Finals. They are a great team full of young superstars that is getting exceptional goaltending at the right time. They have eliminated the #1 and #3 seeds in the West, and will be huge favourites to win the Cup.
And I fucking hate them.
I can’t stand the Blackhawks. There are two obvious reasons for that. The first is that they are a major rival of the Red Wings. The second is that they are the home team. If you’ve ever lived in another team’s city, especially a rival, you know what I am talking about. You already hate the team, but because of where you live, you are forced to get coverage of them beyond the national media. It sucks. But, beyond those reasons, there are a couple of other factors that feed my hate of the Hawks.
The first is Patrick Kane. JJ from Kansas said that Kane was the Crosby of the Western Conference, and I tend to agree with that statement. As we discussed, the problem is that Kane gets a pass for his shit while Crosby is vilified if he farts on the ice. But, therein lies the difference between Kane and Crosby: all of Crosby’s antics (the diving, whining, cross-checking, speedbagging the opponent’s balls) are on the ice, while Kane is best remembered for beating up a Buffalo cab driver because of a dispute over 20 cents. I will take a player who is a douche but is a douche on the ice over a player that is an idiot off the ice: the former speaks to the guy as a player, while the latter speaks to him as a person. It’s a shame that all of the real jerks in the NHL (Crosby, Corey Perry, Chris Pronger) have all won Cups, and it looks like Kane is going to get one too: I hope they don’t present the Cup in the Hawks defensive zone, because Kane will not know where that is.
The second reason is the fact that, for as much as the Hawks talk about hating the Wings, they are the Wings. They play the same style, are coached the same way, get the same type of players; they even hired Scotty Bowman away from us. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: I say that they are still the Little Brother that can’t match what Big Brother has done on their own, so they try and copy everything we do so that they can try and be half as successful as us. But, there’s a big difference between what the Wings have done and what the Blackhawks have done: the Wings never had to suck balls for 10 years and rack up high draft picks to stay competitive. We have seen the Wings stay at or near the top of the NHL for the last 20 years, while the Blackhawks have been garbage for a while up until the last 2-3 years. Consider this: since the lockout, the Wings have been to the Finals twice; the Blackhawks have been to the PLAYOFFS twice in that same time frame. Oh, and the Wings split the season series this year with the Hawks even though they were injured and supposed to be in a “rebuilding” year. I love reminding Hawks fans about that.
Hawks fans. Good Lord, are there Hawks fans now. There are people who are now sporting their Hawk hats and growing playoff beards and talking about how Toews and Kane are awesome and they can’t wait for Niemi to be here and win 5 Cups with them. Are you fucking kidding me? I went to the grocery store the other day and saw 6 people wearing Hawks shit. I can guarantee that of those 6 people, 5 of them couldn’t name one player on the Hawks 5 years ago. Further, in this grocery store, 5 years ago I could probably have found 1 or 2 things with the Hawks logo on it: now there’s shit everywhere. This city has hopped on the bandwagon, and done so very quickly. But, God forbid you say that the fans are there because the Hawks are good: to hear them talk, it was all Bill Wirtz’ fault. He was a terrible owner, and he certainly got in the way of the Hawks being good; I think when they did succeed, it was in spite of him, not because of him. But, the reason the fans came back was not because he died; it’s because they had players like Toews and Kane and Keith that were good, and the team got better. If the team had continued to suck, the fans would still not be going to the games. A couple of stories from my own experience to illustrate this: about 4 years ago, my father-in-law called me on a Thursday and asked if I wanted to go to the Hawks game. I asked him who was playing, and he said they were playing the Wings. Naturally, I said yes, and we were able to get tickets ON THE DAY OF THE GAME that were in the 300 level at centre ice. The building was about ¾ full for the Wings, which never happened. Now, they sell out every game and the fans think this shows how supportive they are. The second story concerns a co-worker of mine. 3 years ago after the Hawks got Toews and Kane, they played the Wings very early in the season (it may have been the first game, I can’t remember). That was the game where Kane scored the SO winner against Hasek. The next day at work, a co-worker came up to me and said “saw the Hawks beat the Wings last night” and proceeded to talk shit. Being the kind of guy I am, I brought up the fact that the Wings were probably tired of beating the Hawks, seeing as how they had done it 15 of the last 16 times. It was then that he said “I don’t like hockey. I was just busting your balls because the Wings lost and I know you are a Wings fan”. Fast forward 3 years; this same co-worker was at the game yesterday texting pictures from the game and talking about how awesome the Hawks are and how excited he is the Hawks are going to the Finals. I have secretly renamed this guy “Exhibit A” because of how he personifies the way this city has gotten behind the Hawks.
If anyone local reads this blog and is upset at what I wrote, I don’t really care. I can’t stand the Hawks, because of one final thing: their identity is not based on their love of the Hawks, but of their hatred of the Wings. They are like White Sox fans (another team and fanbase I can’t stand); Sox fans spend more time hating the Cubs than liking the Sox. I can’t understand that mentality, as I have always been a “cheer for your team” kind of guy. You see on blogs like Second City Hockey that they won’t talk about the Wings by name: they call the Wings “Scum”. Really? You hate the team that much that you have to call them some sort of derogatory nickname like that? You know why Hawks’ fans act like this? Jealousy. Don’t let any of them tell you different; if the shoe were on the other foot, Hawks fans would be all over us telling us how we wish our team could be as good as the Hawks have been for the last 15 years.
There are a few saving graces for me; things that make me smile and keep me sane. I love knowing that even if the Hawks do win the Cup, the team will have to be blown up in the off-season because of all the dumb-fuck contracts given out to idiots like Hossa*, Campbell and Huet. I hope Hawks fans enjoyed seeing Byfugly and Sharp, because it’s almost a guarantee they are gone; so is their goalie. Quenneville still has never beaten the Red Wings in a playoff series, and I know that deep down, Hawks fans are pissed that they didn’t get a chance to play the Wings this year in the playoffs. They know that we can still point out that they have not beaten us to win the Cup, and until they do, they are still our bitch. Hell, even when they won the division this year, they didn’t beat us in the season series. As of this writing, it looks like it’s going to be a Philly-Chicago Finals, so I am going to do what any self-respecting Red Wing fan will do – get updates from Twitter and hope that somehow, someway, no one wins the Cup this year.
* Speaking of Hossa, what a colossal waste of money that guy has been for the Hawks. He missed half of the year with a shoulder injury, then didn’t do much this season, and has a whole 2 goals in the playoffs. My father-in-law said that he is a two-way player; two-way players still score goals once in a while. I think I may make a graph charting that as Hossa’s contribution has decreased, his teams have done more. What really chaps my ass is that, despite his disappearing act, he is in the Finals for a third consecutive year. Un-fucking-believeable. I wonder what he’ll do if he loses; I’m thinking suicide watch.