Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks: World Cup Of Hockey Necessary Risk

By Tim Lively
Sep 11, 2016; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Team North America defenseman Colton Parayko (4) and Team Europe forward Marian Hossa (81) battle for the puck in the first period during a World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2016; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Team North America defenseman Colton Parayko (4) and Team Europe forward Marian Hossa (81) battle for the puck in the first period during a World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sep 11, 2016; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Team North America defenseman Colton Parayko (4) and Team Europe forward Marian Hossa (81) battle for the puck in the first period during a World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2016; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Team North America defenseman Colton Parayko (4) and Team Europe forward Marian Hossa (81) battle for the puck in the first period during a World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

If selected Chicago Blackhawks are capable of playing in the World Cup of Hockey, they need to be there

The one source of contention among fans of our beloved Chicago Blackhawks during this otherwise relatively quiet offseason has been certain ‘Hawks players skating for their respective countries in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

Many in ’Hawks Nation argue, given their deep playoff runs over the course of the past three years and fatigue clearly seeming to be affecting their play (i.e. Brent Seabrook and Marian Hossa) during this past season, the Blackhawks’ recent first-round exit from the playoffs at the hands of the St. Louis Blues would at least give them a chance to get some much needed (and deserved) rest before starting another Stanley Cup quest.

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So worrisome is the amount of time the Blackhawks have to recharge their batteries this offseason, that the fact that as many as 10 ‘Hawks players are participating in the World Cup, which by at least North American standards is a pretty pointless tournament, has given cause for many Chicago denizens to accuse these players of not having their priorities and loyalties straight.

Both sides of the argument

This sentiment among Blackhawks fans is certainly understandable. For us, the window for this generation of ‘Hawks players to bring the Stanley Cup back to Chi-Town is only getting smaller, and to participate in any activity that could potentially hinder their ability to do so, even if it is offseason hockey, is just a completely unnecessary risk.

The injuries Marcus Kruger and Hossa have already sustained during the World Cup, the severity of which are still not fully understood as of this post, are prefect examples of such concerns coming to fruition.

chicago blackhawks
Apr 9, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (22) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

What Blackhawks fans need to understand, however, is that to ask any of the Blackhawks who have the chance to represent their respective country in the World Cup, a hockey tournament on a world stage, to turn down such an opportunity would be like asking them not to breathe.

Let me put this into context. From a time commitment standpoint, playing hockey is tough, period. Unlike football, basketball or baseball, where all you need is an empty court or field to practice and hone your skills as an aspiring professional athlete, with hockey you need ice (and to answer the question before you ask it, no, roller hockey isn’t just as good, #practicelikeyouplay), plain and simple. And, spoiler alert, there are only so many ice rinks in a given area.

Thus, as a hopeful hockey player trying to make it to the big leagues, you need to be able to hit the ice as much as possible, and more often than not, to accomplish this you’re waking up before the sun has risen, driving an hour or more to the ice rink two towns over that was able to squeeze you in for 30 minutes of ice time, then driving back an hour more to get ready for school, only to repeat the whole process over again after class is out, except this time, it’s late at night.

In other words, to go through such a routine day in and day out, you better really love hockey. Thus, for those players who did make it to the NHL, they were driven by their life-long passion for hockey that made them sacrifice so much just to get a few extra hours of ice time.

chicago blackhawks
Apr 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks fans celebrate during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

This life-long passion doesn’t flicker out once these players have achieved their dreams. This is why, in spite of playing more games in the past several years than any NHL team, 10 Blackhawks players have chosen to seize the opportunity to hit the ice during the offseason in the World Cup. The risk of injury is just not egregious enough to ask them to abstain from doing something they love.

I’m sure this isn’t allaying the concerns those in ’Hawks Nation have about our Blackhawks players getting needlessly injured during a relatively meaningless tournament and jeopardizing their performance for the upcoming regular season.

Next: Blackhawks Over/Under: Marian Hossa

Well, if it’s any consolation, if you have read and/or subscribe to the theories put forth in the book “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell, that no one is just naturally born with talent but rather achieves high aptitudes proportionately based on the amount of hours they invest in practicing their craft, then we as ‘Hawks fans should welcome this opportunity for a good amount of our boys in red, white and black are getting a chance to further refine their skills before embarking on the 2016-2017 campaign for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

FOR THE DAGGER!

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