MORE THAN HOPE, THERE IS HISTORY
The Chicago Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup. Let us look briefly at how they arrived here. Let us understand that to achieve the greatest victory in hockey, a team often must rise from its ashes.
In February 2004, ESPN named the Blackhawks as the worst franchise in professional sports.
During the 2005-2006 season, the Blackhawks finished with one of the worst records in the league (26–43–13), second to last in the Western Conference and twenty seventh in the league.
With the third overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, the Blackhawks selected Jonathan Toews. Towes would eventually become their captain at the age of 20.
The Blackhawks wanted to add major pieces in the free agent market that year but the player-free agents were uninterested. All they were able to acquire were Patrick Lalime and Sebastien Caron. They were however able to make a trade for Martin Havlat and former King Bryan Smolinski. They then traded former King Kyle Calder for current Kings’ center, Michal Handzus. Calder was their leading scorer at the time.
Injuries took away any hope the Hawks may have had. They traded Smolinski. They fired their coach Trent Yawney and appointed then assistant coach, Denis Savard as head coach. The Blackhawks finished last in the Central Division, 12 points out of the playoffs.
Their failure became their eventual success through the draft once again. They won the lottery and selected with the first overall pick right wing Patrick Kane. Kane shined the following season with 21 goals and 51 assists in 82 games. The Blackhawks finished with a record 40-34-8, missing the playoffs by just three points.
That was the first time in 6 years that the Hawks finished above .500.
The Blackhawks hired Joel Quenneville, spent money to sign their core, and fast forwarded to the 2008-2009 season. They finished second place in their division, with a record of 46-24-12. That was good enough for fourth in the Western Conference.
They finally clinched a playoff birth – the first time since the 2001-2002 season. Read that again to make sure you read it correctly and appreciate the parallel.
It was also their first 100 point season in 17 years.
They beat the Flames, beat the Canucks, but lost badly to the Red Wings in the Conference Finals.
The Hawks gained the experience of winning and losing in the playoffs and through the heart ache, failures, high draft picks, developing and signing their young core, and the acquisition of a high profile free agent in Marian Hossa as well as veteran leadership built around their talented youth, earned the right this season to lift the Stanley Cup.
Their past is relevant to their present, as ours will be to our future.