John Madden doesn’t wear No. 11. He’s No. 1 twice.
My love for him is bordering on the ridiculous. I’m like a giddy teenage girl who just watched those idiots from Twilight take their shirts off. He’s been the unsung hero on a team in which fans drool over star players and damn those not performing to their standards.
Madden falls in neither of those categories. He’s the one who does the dirty work and possesses just enough flash for the casual fan to notice he’s even on the team. Pathetic losers like me who believe a regular-season loss in January is cause to be curt to everyone within four feet notice? We notice a hell of a lot more.
Beyond anchoring a Blackhawks penalty-kill unit which ranks 6th overall in the NHL, Madden is 16 on-ice minutes per game of pure nuisance. His active stick bothers opponents in the every zone, his awareness puts his teammates in a better position with the puck, and his all-or-nothing style of play makes for an energized shift each time his line is on the ice. Along with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, you don’t have to worry about Madden pissing you off. He does most everything right, is extremely rarely caught out of position and can play proficiently on both ends of the ice.
Furthermore, nearly all of Madden’s goal fit under the “clutch” category. Five of his nine goals have either tied the game or put the Blackhawks in the lead, including his game-changing two-goal night Dec. 27 against Nashville. Madden’s goal against Calgary on Oct. 12 started the ‘Hawks’ six-goal rally to beat the Flames and two other goals have capped the Blackhawks scoring for the night.
Madden is the type of player you can forget about if you don’t pay enough attention, then forcefully thrusts himself into the spotlight with a game-shifting play ranging from a goal to simply an energized shift. He’s overshadowed by stars like Toews, Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. He’s overlooked because of the flashy play of Kris VERSTEEG! and at times Patrick Sharp. He’s not talked about like big-contract players Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet, nor is he a young up-and-coming fan favorite like Antti Niemi.
Madden simply does his job, and he does it with 110 percent effort and rewarding play for his teammates. That’s why my non-sexual crush continues to escalate.
I just hope you notice him as much as I do — and as much as you should.