Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

A Look into the Future

Sure, it's been less than one week since the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime to win the 2010 Stanley Cup. That was the franchise's first league championship since 1961. Last Friday, the City of Chicago hosted a fantastic parade and rally in hot and humid weather to celebrate our returning hockey heroes. The team, complete with the Stanley Cup in tow, made appearances around the city, at the final game of the Cubs/White Sox series at Wrigley Field, and even an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Since Chicago rarely claims professional sports championships, I am trying my best to soak it in and make every moment last. Still, I can't help but look into the future five, maybe 10 years.

So what do I see down the road for the Blackhawks? Will they string together several Stanley Cup titles? Will they make a run like the Chicago White Sox did in 2005 when they won the World Series then faded away? It's too early to tell, but I think we can compare this era of Blackhawks hockey to two different teams in Chicago sports. One is good while the other could have been. Let's look at the Bears of the 1980s, and the Bulls of the 1990s. With Walter Payton running the ball and the 46 Defense, the Bears would claim a Super Bowl title for the 1985 season. Behind the acrobatics of Michael Jordan and solid defense of Scottie Pippen, the Bulls won six NBA titles with three between 1991 and 1993 and three more between 1996 and 1998. Both eras were exciting, but they produced very radically different legacies.

When the Bears pounded the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX, it appeared the Bears would become the next great football dynasty like the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s. Surely a string of NFL titles would follow. Sadly, the Bears wouldn't appear in another championship game until Super Bowl XLI. And for the record, they lost that one to the Indianapolis Colts. Almost immediately, the Bears players lost sight of their goal and were easily distracted by the temptations away from the game. If they could have won a few more titles, they could have been the Team of the 1980s. Joe Montana and Jerry Rice kept winning and easily stole that title from the Bears.

As the late 1980s became the early 1990s, the Chicago Bulls knew they had something special. Michael Jordan was on the verge of transforming from an exciting young player into the greatest NBA player of all time. For years, they battled the Detroit Pistons and fell short. Finally, in 1991 they broke through and dethroned the Pistons to advance to the NBA Finals. In their first trip to the finals, they defeated Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. Not content with just one title, they made minor moves and defeated the Portland Trailblazers in 1992 and the Phoenix Suns in 1993. Jordan retired for almost two seasons, and they failed to reach the finals in 1994 and 1995. But, when Jordan returned in 1996, another three titles were earned against the Seattle Supersonics and twice against the Utah Jazz.

So which path will the Blackhawks follow? Will financial concerns break apart the team? Can they make the necessary moves to add to an already exciting young team? Will Patrick Kane learn to control his celebrity and remain on the straight and narrow?

Only time will tell.


7 Comments
stevenheinzel
Good blog, Bill.
stheinz   Tuesday, June 15, 2010
billpearch
Thanks.
Bill Pearch   Tuesday, June 15, 2010
hawkwolf
I hope Free Agency doesn't kill the Black Hawks like it has so many NHL teams. The Carolina Hurricanes won the cup in 2006 and there are hardly any of the original players left and those that are still here are nearing their 40th birthdays and want to retire Hurricanes. Look for the Hurricanes to challenge for the cup next year because we Caniacs want it to come back down here.
BeanCounter37   Tuesday, June 15, 2010
billpearch
Hey Bean, let's hope our teams battle for it next season.
Bill Pearch   Tuesday, June 15, 2010
ozthegreat
It will be a financial decision. Niemi is an RFA and will want to get his money. A handful of FA role players will likely be gone also due to wanting more money than they're worth. That's the beauty of being a second tier player coming off a championship. The NBA is far different than most pro sports. The Bulls had their big 2, Jordan & Pippen, and over the 6 titles plugged in role players and won. Hockey is the ultimate team sport and it's very hard to build a complete group of guys that click on every level with one goal in mind. Even baseball, while a "team" sport, is made up of mini individual battles btween batter & pitcher. Dale Talon put together a hell of a hockey team before leaving the organization. Hopefully the current regime can learn from those moves and tweak this team to create a consistent winner. Carolina won't be battling for anything anytime soon. Sorry.
ozthegreat   Wednesday, June 16, 2010
hawkwolf
Hey oz: What do you know? The Canes have some of the best young talent in the NFL and with some of the older talent you will be surprised. Last year when they lost 13 in a row was a complete disaster but the fans kept going. By the way: I don't think that I would call myself ozthegreat because you are telling people that you have a big ego.
BeanCounter37   Friday, June 18, 2010
ozthegreat
It's a Wizard of Oz reference dude...not ego related. Don't mistake intellegence for ego... So, because "the fans kept going" means the championship is on it's way? If only that were true, the Cubs would've won a World Series by now.
ozthegreat   Friday, June 18, 2010
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