Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Hey guys, my name’s Nick Rogers, I’m the newest staff writer here on Blackhawk Up and I am not only an avid hockey fan, I am an avid Blackhawks fan. They say every story has a beginning, well here’s mine.
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, I ended up in DeKalb, but my Blackhawks passion wasn’t a fire like it is today. Back in 2007, our captain Jonathan Toews joined the team, I saw him play on TV one night and was instantly mesmerized, the way he dished passes to teammates, dashed around defenders, and looked as precise as a surgeon further ignited my hockey interest. Fast forward a year, and enter Joel Quenneville and Patrick Kane. the odds-on next superstar, if I was enamored by Toews, I was absolutely hypnotized by Kane. He could do things on the ice that I had only dreamed of, speeding past defensemen like a bullet train. While “Q” brought a head coaching mind that rivaled some of the greats, and replaced Denis Savard, who was relieved of his duties. It was the combo that would pull the Blackhawks out of the Daze, Amonte, and Tkachuk days. After his first year, I casually watched hockey, including the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field, but I was still only half-way interested.
Then, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics happened. After Team USA stunned Canada in the early elimination rounds, the interest turned into an obsession, I was hooked. The United States had ignited my interest, and that interest carried over into the NHL season, and the Blackhawks were good, so good they were considered favorites, they ran through the playoffs, who could forget the Nashville series, or Patrick Kane’s goal line, odd-angled, Cup clinching goal.
Enter the Capocalypse, the Blackhawks, while retaining their core, lost key depth and support figures in their Cup run, players like Dustin Byfuglien (who went to the Winnipeg Jets and excels there), Ben Eager, Kris Versteeg, and goaltender Antti Niemi. The Blackhawks ended up signing Marty Turco, a signee many fans were enamored with, and who was…average. As many goals given up by his puck-playing woes could attest to. Turco was later replaced by a young, Canadian upstart named Corey Crawford. Crawford ousted Turco and later gained his place as the starter. Two early round Stanley Cup Playoff exits by the Hawks had the fans in a funk, we were two years removed from the Cup and we wanted more. GM Stan Bowman and John McDonough quickly loaded up with developed talent from Rockford as well as talent from other teams in trades and signings. NHL VetsMichael Frolik, Johnny Oduya, Michal Handzus, and Michal Roszival were among the new faces, among many others from Rockford. The Chicago Blackhawks only got younger, and added talent from Rockford such future star Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger, and Ben Smith.
Then, all of the momentum came to a screeching halt with the NHL Lockout, but after that, my interest piqued with the start of the shortened NHL season. “The Streak” was what set my interest into a raging inferno, and the playoff run only further affirmed my Blackhawks diehard faith. I started paying more attention to Rockford, to the Draft, and to the NHL as a whole.
The Stanley Cup playoffs got under way and the Hawks dispatched the Wild with relative ease in 5 games, then, a bit of (okay, a very big) scare came from the Detroit Red Wings, but an incredible come back and not one, but two, overtime goals sent the Blackhawks to a date with the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. Many people (including myself) thought this would be an incredibly difficult series, but the Hawks won in 5 games, setting up a date with Original Six rival Boston.
The Hawks-Bruins series had a very odd start, a triple-OT winner by Andrew Shaw caused the Hawks to go up 1-0, then, the Hawks dropped two straight, and many thought Boston was too physical, but the Blackhawks fired off two quick wins, going up 3-2 in the series, and the would-be penultimate game was set up. The Hawks were dominated early, but made it a one goal deficit when they tied it with a minute and some change remaining.
Boston made its mistake 17 seconds later, they should have called a timeout, slow the momentum. Instead they let Patrick Kane knife into the zone as if he was a surgeon. After a few passes, a blast from the point, is tipped by Frolik off the post, and to Bolland, who lifted it above Tuukka Rask and in. Less than a minute later, the Hawks were Stanley Cup Champions twice in four seasons.
2013 only affirmed my passion for hockey, but we all know how the story ended in 2014. I look forward to writing about whatever may happen in the future for our great team, and I am especially looking forward to providing you guys, loyal fans like myself, in-depth analysis and contributing to all the ‘Hawks content a great site like Blackhawk Up puts out.