Chicago Blackhawks fans would be ready and watching closely at the beginning of the shortened season. Their team had a long, frustrating series with the Phoenix Coyotes in which all of the mistakes and weaknesses from the season plus some became glaringly obvious. Fans saw the Blackhawks exit the series in the sixth game losing every matchup on home ice, watched as a star player was severely injured, and wondered what happened to the skill of the other star players.
Then came the lockout. The Blackhawks had already had all summer to refocus, regroup, and rediscover what made them good as a team, and now they had to completely shift their focus to the most boring part of hockey – the business side. Fans’ questions about their team’s rebound season were mixed in with the questions of when and if there would even be a season as deadline after deadline came and went.
Finally, the season began and fans could finally see how badly their team wanted to prove themselves to the fans and to each other. Every player stepped it up a notch or two and the Blackhawks broke franchise and league records in the process of cleaning up the mess of the last few seasons and lockout business. Whether you’re rooting for or against the Blackhawks in their league-leading winning record, you have to admit they brought their own aspect of passion and rivalry to this season of hockey. Blackhawks fans experienced the NHL comeback in a way that was more exciting than it was for any other NHL fans (except for maybe the Toronto Maple Leafs fans. First playoffs appearance in nearly 200 years, it sounds like).
It almost feels ungrateful to even murmur about anything that the Blackhawks do wrong. A couple of soft goals, the all too familiar goalie shuffle, power play trouble, bad third periods, giving up leads…. all of that leads to a terrible 34-5-5 record, right? Remembering back to the beginning of the season, some fans might just expect the spectacular every night. But even with all of the frustrating mistakes that the Blackhawks have made recently, they are still leading the NHL by 5 points with only 4 games left to play.
No, Blackhawks fans don’t have much to complain about, but when they do, it’s only because they know there’s just one goal. And we don’t have it yet. That uncertainty is the only thing that causes us to become agitated when our team makes mistakes that every other team in the league has made. Our standards are higher and our team’s record is better than any others. There’s just one thing that could make this season better. Think about that. Just one thing that could make fans happier. I’d say that’s pretty great.
Has the Blackhawks’ performance this season made you feel differently about last season and the lockout?