In an era of unrivaled dominance, the Chicago Blackhawks have now clinched a playoff berth for the ninth consecutive year — a feat that should be taken in by fans
May 27, 2009, Joe Louis Arena. For myself personally, that night runs as vivid in memory as all three of the Stanley Cup championships I have enjoyed as a Blackhawks fan.
May 27, 2009 was the night the Detroit Red Wings defeated the ’Hawks in a five-game Western Conference finals.
I was a kid at the time, but I’ll never forget the loss having a different feel to it. In the climax of a heart-wrenching playoff run came a glimpse of a future that would prove far brighter than just about anyone could have imagined. The emergence of world-class talent in players whose names have since become household throughout the U.S and Canada left a sense of optimism and anticipation for the future previously unheard of in my lifetime.
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The series also left us fans with a heightened sense of purpose and determination that emanated through the organization and city alike. Who can forget the image of an unconscious Martin Havlat being trampled by skates, gloves, etc., as his teammates came to his aid following a questionable hit from Niklas Kronwall?
One thing had become undeniably certain as a 20-year-old Jonathan Toews shook Nicklas Lidstrom’s hand over the infamous “Hockeytown” logo: The Chicago Blackhawks would be back. And return they did, claiming the franchise’s first championship in 49 years the following season.
"When looking at the Hawks’ dominance since 2009 and how difficult it is to maintain, look at the Bruins, Kings, and Canucks. All teams were dominant at one point and dropped off the cliff hard. What the Blackhawks are doing now is incredibly hard to maintain. This is a special era that we may never see again in our lifetimes. – @PuckinHostile"
Earlier today, Puckin Hostile podcast host “Gatekeeper” tweeted a well articulated plea for Blackhawks fans to take a moment and contemplate the magnitude of the Blackhawks’ success in what is almost assuredly a once-in-a-lifetime era. This post is essentially making the same point.
Assuming a miracle is out of play, the Red Wings’ current playoff streak of 25 seasons will come to an end this season. An incredible accomplishment and one that will likely go unmatched indefinitely through the salary cap era.
That development will put the ’Hawks’ nine-year streak at second-longest in the league, second only to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who will see their 11th straight berth this year.
It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been alarmingly close to a decade since the Blackhawks’ revival began. In that time we’ve seen five Western Conference finals appearances, three Stanley Cup championships and a couple excruciatingly painful first-round exits.
We’ve seen the solidification of a handful of Hall of Fame careers that will live on in history far longer than they will on ice.
The painful reality is that all good things must inevitably come to an end at some point. And so as the Blackhawks march towards another comfortable playoff berth atop the Western Conference this spring, be sure to take a few subtle moments to yourselves and really absorb exactly how lucky we are as fans to be experiencing a dynasty.
Be mindful of the fact that exactly half of NHL fan bases, inhabited often by fans equally dedicated to their respective teams, have been waiting more than two decades for a championship.
Six have been waiting more than 40 years, two of which (Vancouver and Toronto) are Canadian franchises with some of the most dedicated and passionate fans in sports, period.
I suppose, ultimately, I’m making the case for Blackhawks fans to be ever mindful of the unique perspective we possess as loyal followers of a franchise that has given an entire culture such an unheard of amount of lifelong memories and unforgettable moments.
Clinching a playoff berth for the ninth consecutive year is an incredible accomplishment, and one that should not go unappreciated. The Chicago Blackhawks have become the benchmark for success in the National Hockey League.
As of right now, it looks as though the ’Hawks are more than capable of maintaining their lead over the Minnesota Wild for the top spot in the Western Conference. They currently hold a seven-point lead over the streaky Wild, which makes Minnesota’s game in hand a less stressful concern.
With that said, it is beginning to look equally fair to predict a Blackhawks/Predators first-round series. I think it’s a little early to make predictions regarding a potential playoff matchup, but it’s certainly promising to see the ’Hawks continue to find ways to win ugly scratch-and-claw hockey games.
A few more consequential wins on nights where the Wild struggle will allow this team to begin to pull away from Minnesota, and allow coach Joel Quenneville to make an early, truly concerted effort in resting his stars for the playoffs.
Be proud, ’Hawks fans. We’re living in a dynasty.