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Chicago Blackhawks, Cubs Share Spotlight Tonight

By Sean Fitzgerald
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The Chicago Blackhawks will raise their third championship banner in the last six years tonight, while the Cubs will be appearing in their first postseason game since 2008. In 2008, the Cubs were ending their run as a World Series contender. The Cubs would go the bottom of Major League Baseball, while the Blackhawks were starting to being their journey toward their first Stanley Cup since 1961 and ascending from being the laughingstock of the NHL.

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If you look at the foundation of both teams, each had to endure horrible seasons to get to the point they are at now. The Blackhawks did not sniff the playoffs from 2002-2008. Before their 2001 playoff run, the Blackhawks had not made the playoffs since the 1996-97 season.  Since the Blackhawks were so bad for so long, they were able to get high picks in the NHL draft each season. The Blackhawks picked third overall in 2006 and were able draft now-captain Jonathan Toews. The Blackhawks were fortunate enough to draft Patrick Kane with the first pick in the 2007 NHL draft as well. These two players became the cornerstones of the Blackhawks’ championship dynasty. The Blackhawks would pick up other core pieces along the way in Brent Seabrook (2003), Corey Crawford (2003), Duncan Keith (2002) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (2005).

The Cubs followed a similar model to the Blackhawks. They qualified for a National League Division Series in 1998 and then stunk until 2003, a year they came within five outs of making the World Series. The Cubs then would be bad again until 2007, when Lou Piniella took over for Dusty Baker as manager. The Cubs would get swept out of the playoffs in 2007 and 2008 and then went into the tank for the next several seasons, while acquiring top talent in the draft each season. The Cubs bottomed out in 2012 by losing 101 games. The Cubs found their cornerstone pieces either in the draft or as a result of moving their draft picks. In 2008, the Cubs drafted Andrew Casher 19th overall and would later flip him to the Padres for Anthony Rizzo, their current starting first baseman. In 2013, the Cubs took Kris Bryant with the second overall pick. In 2014, Kyle Schwarber was the Cubs pick at No. 9. These two have both had a huge impact on the team’s successful season in 2015. Similar to the ’Hawks adding Marian Hossa via free agency, the Cubs added Jon Lester that way before the 2015 season. While the Blackhawks would get Patrick Sharp in a steal of a deal with Philadelphia, the Cubs would unearth their own diamond in the rough in their fleecing of Baltimore for Jake Arrieta.

The formula for both teams has been good drafting and adding key pieces at the right time. The Blackhawks are at the top of the NHL mountain for the third time in six seasons. Now the Cubs after following a similar path as of late and could ascend to the same heights as the Blackhawks.

Good luck to both teams on their historic (for vastly different reasons) night.

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