NOTE: Sorry for no strict recap and/or Boxing. I was on vacation in Boston for a Bruins game and admittedly didn’t see much of either game this weekend. In fact, I still haven’t seen a highlight of the Thrashers game. It would be more of a disservice if I wrote about stuff I didn’t see. You’re alive, so you’ll be OK with that.
Sunday night, it took a matter of 14 seconds for the Edmonton Oilers to relieve the Blackhawks of their lead and take their own.
The clock on when we’re going to see the defending Stanley Cup champions is still ticking.
What is it I’m hoping for? I don’t know. I can’t say I’m demanding to see every semblance of dominance we saw last season when the Blackhawks were the best team in the NHL. I’m not going to start crying if Marty Turco isn’t “The One” or if the departed ‘Hawks succeed. Business decisions had to be made.
I will say I may have been a bit too harsh on some of our star players to date. Stars alone don’t win titles. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane didn’t win that Cup alone last season. I’m guilty of saying I want to see more out of them and Duncan Keith and the other top-tier talent the ‘Hawks possess. There’s a lot of it. I understand the role of a star player is to play like a star all the time. But even Michael Jordan had off nights.
It’s the off-the-ice stuff that needs the attention. No more talking about how they miss the old guys. No more talking about the new locker room and how it’s taking time to jell.
What I’m hoping for is the Blackhawks new faces and role players to start proving they’re impressed by that brand new banner hanging at the United Center. I want them to think back to the home opener when they stayed on the bench secluded from the players from the title team, and they watched the ring bearers witness something they’ll never forget.
I want them to start imagining that they’re on the ice at the 2011 home opener standing in the same spot and watching a banner be raised. It’s not to say they’re talented enough to make it happen, but it sure as hell doesn’t seem like they’re playing up to what’s now expected in Chicago. And they really don’t seem to be playing with the purpose of getting to that point.
And most of all, I want last year’s team members to starting telling the new faces why that’s so important.
There was a different look about last year’s champs. There were a lot of times the role players didn’t do their jobs and we got on them. However, they still had the fire in their eyes and the determination to accomplish that goal of winning the Cup. They always talked like it. Maybe they just knew the media and what had to be said, but everyone constantly talked about winning the Cup. It never went away.
Do you see that from the new faces yet? Do you see Fernando Pisani or John Scott or Viktor Stalberg have that look like, “Whatever I have to do, whatever these guys want me to do, I’ll do it because I want what they have”…?
I sure haven’t. And beyond that, it’s happening at home — where that banner hangs right above them as a constant reminder of the expectations surrounding anyone in a Blackhawks sweater.
I refuse to believe these Blackhawks that take the ice every night don’t have what it takes to win another Cup. Maybe it’s the superfan in me, but we’ve all seen flashes of brilliance from lots of those new guys. It’s the consistency that’s lacking. Last year’s ‘Hawks team was consistently good, then got great when they needed to be great.
This team is consistently mediocre, and they’ve gotten good at times. The personalities are different, sure. Last year’s team had a closeness about them that even the players have acknowledged is lacking at this point. Well, what are they going to do to regain that? Last year’s team didn’t know each other until they met. Seems like a stupid thing to say, right?
However, these guys are all professionals and share a locker room, and a city. Figure something out. Remember in that Seinfeld episode when Elaine referred to her and George as friends-in-law? Elaine then sat down with George and told Jerry afterward, “I wanted to talk about how we have nothing to talk about.” Well, do that if you have to. Get your shit together, and get it together fast.
Toews knows what I’m talking about:
“That motivation should be coming within our own locker room … we’re adults and we’re mature hockey players and when it’s time to light that fire, you know where… “
While the ‘Hawks find some lighter fluid, the Detroit Red Wings continue to win. The St. Louis Blues, of all the goddamn teams, are playing phenominal. The ‘Hawks are currently staring up at both their naked asses being waved in their proverbial face. I know, it’s early. But how many times have teams had rough starts in a good division and simply can’t catch up because the other teams above them continued to play well? It’s not uncommon. More often than not, a solid start leads to long-term success.
So, what’s it going to take? Losing two games to a bottom-feeding Western Conference team at home within a week? I hope so. Maybe on Wednesday we can watch a team beginning to get things in order, beginning to play together rather than trying to do things in spite of each other.
The ‘Hawks still haven’t hit the opposition with their best shot.
Hopefully we won’t have to wait much longer.