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With Chicago Blackhawks, Thanksgiving Week A Time To Reflect

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CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 15: Alex DeBrincat
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 15: Alex DeBrincat /
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As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s a time to reflect upon good and bad times with the Chicago Blackhawks and what really matters

Personally, I’ve had a rough past week far beyond anything to do with the Chicago Blackhawks.  A good friend passed away, and my elderly mother has been in and out of the hospital.  The former came as a shock and the latter generates a feeling of inevitability.

When we are faced with life-and-death questions, we wonder why things have to happen as they do.  Why this, why me?  And then we come to the conclusion that we’re put on this earth to struggle, and how we deal with this struggle defines who we are.

Life through the zoom lens

Zooming out from my personal life to the rest of our world, we see so many events causing moral and ethical struggles on a daily basis.  It may feel overwhelming at times with a constant barrage of news on the television, on the radio, over the Internet and from conversations.

It’s easy to get sucked into the whirlpool of negativity because it’s easier to hate than to love.  It’s cooler to be the smartest guy in the room rather than be the herd follower.

At the memorial service for my friend, some friends confronted me on what’s plaguing the Blackhawks. We speculated on this and that, and then came the joke.  Maybe writers like myself are part of the problem with all the negativity!

We all had a good laugh, but it was also a “Hmm” moment.  So after much consideration, I am no longer going to be a part of the problem and retire from writing.  JUST KIDDING!

The thief who gives

When my dad passed away a few years ago, I delivered the eulogy.  I started off by saying that death is a thief who steals something precious from us but unwittingly gives us something back — the cause to celebrate life.  So when we gather and commiserate, we find peace by sharing stories to remember good times.  The support we give each other provides us with the strength to carry on.

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This year, our part of the world has suffered natural disasters that have stolen lives and the possessions of the living in ways never seen.  But through all the hardship, the one element that keeps shining through is the human spirit.  Disasters bring people together and bring out the spirit of giving.

So zooming back in from the world with life-and-death matters to the sports world, and specifically to the Chicago Blackhawks, online reporting and fan discussion boards, gives us platforms to sound off and give each other some support.

There are a lot of good writers out there offering different perspectives.  There are fans with a lot of knowledge and passion pouring out great comments on social media.  Step back and you see the big picture of what the Blackhawks experience is all about.  Bravo to all.

Our struggles define who we are

Yes, this year’s Blackhawks team has been struggling.  The major losses of Marian Hossa, Marcus Kruger, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Scott Darling have affected this team’s defensive personality profoundly.  The loss of Artemi Panarin has negatively affected the team’s best scorer.

Just as death and disasters bring people together, these losses are forcing this team to figure out how to come together and form a new identity. It just isn’t happening as quickly as we would like because we want to always like what we see.

We see the negative reporting and the doomsday comments.  PTSD sufferers lock on to the negative thoughts and find that they can’t climb out of that darkness.  While the Blackhawks’ struggles are not traumatic, followers can get locked on to only the negative thoughts.  And sometimes we’re just not grateful for the small things.

Time to give thanks

While the Blackhawks’ record is nothing to get excited about, the season is not a complete disaster.  And there are still positives to look at and feel grateful for.  Let’s look at a few of these.

General manager Stan Bowman has brought this team from salary cap hell to being

$2.4M

below the cap with transactions (some unpopular) and LTIR exceptions.  This will be very significant as the season progresses.

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  • Coach Joel Quenneville has shown the most patience in his tenure with younger players.  Whether it’s by choice or by necessity, younger players are getting ice time.  Things may be painful now, but it’s called growing pains.
  • Captain Jonathan Toews continues to be a pillar of calm fortitude in a season of flux.  Keeping a locker room united through difficult times requires strong character.  Remember this as a life lesson, too.
  • Patrick Kane continues to play at a point-per-game pace.
  • Artem Anisimov has gone from pariah to messiah after line tinkering and some self-motivation got his game right.  His transformation in the past week has been a revelation.
  • Alex DeBrincat has been given chances to show what he can do, and oh boy, he can do.
  • Nick Schmaltz is showing that he is developing into an elite playmaker.
  • John Hayden‘s exuberance of youth is a joy to watch.
  • Lance Bouma is converting the naysayers into believers with solid, hard-nosed play.
  • Cody Franson is a good fit for this team and is playing much better than expected.
  • Jan Rutta has made a quick transition from European hockey and, while suffering a few lapses recently, is contributing well on defense and now on the powerplay.
  • Gustav Forsling doesn’t absolutely suck this year and is improving game by game.
  • Recently reduced minutes for Brent Seabrook may revitalize his play.
  • Corey Crawford.

    Corey Crawford.

  • COREY CRAWFORD.
  • The pace of play is crazy and unstructured at times, but it is fun hockey. Remember the dark ages when it wasn’t even fun to watch them play?

    CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS FANS AND WRITERS.

  • blackhawkup.com readers with their passion and knowledge.
  • That’s a pretty good list, isn’t it?

    I’m grateful for being a Chicago native and for watching my Blackhawks for half a century.  I’m grateful for being part of a fan base that persevered through dark times to eventually celebrate three Stanley Cup championships.

    Next: Crow Goes Down, Returns And Leads Way In Win

    I’m grateful that this team is grinding through its current struggles with dignity.  And I’m grateful for having the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. Have a very happy Thanksgiving.

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