By Rich Lindbloom
Back when football was football and they didn’t cry about the field conditions or weather, George Halas was asked the question in the title of this dissertation. My disdain for the men in the black and white stripes could probably be traced to this moment. After the Bears were called for a 10 yard holding penalty and a 10 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Papa Bear hollered out to the zebra in charge, “You Stink!” The ref proceeded to walk off another ten yards then hollered over to Halas, “How do I smell from here?”
Tell me Hawk fans, after 35 games this year, how are the olfactory nerves perceiving the scent emanating from the 2010/11 Blackhawks? I’m not talking about their equipment bags – truly one of the grossest smells known to man. Any parent who has driven their children home after a hockey game knows exactly what I‘m talking about. The smell actually hurts the nerve endings in the nose. No, I’m talking about rating the Hawks play this year, on a scale of 1-10, on the stink-o-meter. Are you beginning to think things are starting to smell like a bed of roses after the pummeling’s administered to the Wings and the Kings? Or is the foul odor of last Monday’s Avalanche disaster still lingering like a silent, but deadly, emission of flatulence. You know what I’m talking about – one of those ones where you immediately recognize you need to leave the room.
In a moment of insanity last Sunday I mentioned to Sam Fels that I may have to pick John Scott up in my fantasy League. After describing the odors emanating from his 6”8”, 258lbs frame for most of the season, I realize that penalty minutes often times are the tie breakers in Fantasy Hockey. Actually, other than his skating ability, he’s starting to grow on me in a cult type way. Most of us go for goal scorers, PP points, +/- and shots on goal and players who frequent the first PP unit. Yet it seems every Saturday there is a need to pick up a thug in the hopes he’ll resort to gross malfeasance – a 10 minute misconduct is icing on the cake. (Can you say Sean Avery?)
Most of the ruffians and hooligans, who carve out their niche in the NHL with their fists, are relegated to the fourth line. There are several exceptions; Steve Ott –Dalllas, Chris Neil-Ottawa, Matt Cooke-Pittsburgh, Jordin Tootoo (fighting this nozzle has to be like squaring off with a fire hydrant that swings back), and Cody Mcleod-Colorado. Then there are the true enforcers who are on a team for no other purpose that kicking ass and taking names.
These are the guys Santa Claus doesn’t even bother asking “Have you been naughty or nice?” Do any of these names ring the bell; Janssen-Blues, Konopka and his side kick Gilles (I sure wouldn’t want to skate against the Isle’s fourth line), Parros-Anaheim, douche bag extraordinaire Jared Boll-Columbus, Koci-Colorado and our ultimate fighter, Andre the Giant – have you ever seen a bigger head on a Hawk player? Westgarth made me laugh after he finally took Scott down and headed for the box while rigorously clapping his hands. Nothing like getting punched in the face a few dozen times to get you motivated!
One player who starting to smell like a rose bud, high on the vine, is Corey Crawford. After waiting patiently the last few years in Rockford, it’s beginning to look like Corey has finally established himself in the NHL. Not to take anything away from Turco, but the # 50 car has been often times sensational. Your starting to hear that word you love to hear in reference to a goaltender; he’s been “stealing” some games.
The first game I saw Corey play in was March 5, 2008 when he shut out the Mighty Ducks. My daughter desperately tried to talk me into going to the game that night, but I wouldn’t let her skip VB practice. When we got home we raced over to our neighbors about half a block down the street. I couldn’t believe it-she actually beat me! That stunk and to make matters worse she told me she wasn’t even trying. (LIAR) She was really ticked off when we watched the kid post his first, of hopefully of many, shut outs. I’m not sure how to describe Corey’s style, but he just seems “big” between the pipes. Maybe that would be a good nickname for Corey, one derived from Rocky and Bullwinkle – “Mr. Big.”
There was one moment Sunday night that shed considerable light on our recent success. Duncan Keith, in a moment that defined the game in my estimation, stopped Kopitar on an all out, let’s throw caution to the wind, effort in the first period. Both players were skating at full speed and the #11 car for the Kings had a step on our Norris Trophy winner. Duncan reached back for that one last gear and knocked Kopitar off the puck. Both players fought to keep their balance as the backboard began to rear its ugly head. It was the type of play that never makes it on the score sheet, but has a huge impact in the final analysis. Even though Campbell had just one point, I thought he deserved to be one of the game’s stars. Our rooks did a good job articulating Sunday night. (i.e.- are defensive tandems were in synch) I know Boynton gets a lot of criticism and has some issues trying to skate backwards at times. However, one thing I like about pug nosed blue liner is his willingness to get in someone’s face. If I were out on the ice against Konopka and Gilles, knowing the #24 had my back would help allay my fears; somewhat.
The Toews/Sharp/Brouwer line was dominant on Sunday. They did a great job sealing the puck in L.A’s zone. Right before the #19 car scored in the first period I hollered out “Rip it!” (Yelling “Rip it” is light years ahead of yelling “Shoot,” for you new fans.) Although my embarrassed daughter insists the players on the ice can’t hear me from section 320, a moment after I gave Tazer that sagacious advice, he ripped a twisted wrister by Quick, who was slow on that one. Maybe it was just mental telepathy. The one thing that stinks about Toews is apparently he’s about to be hit with a paternity suit. Take a good look at Joey the Junior Blackhawk reporter. Try and convince a jury he’s not your kid Jonathan. He’s even got the crazed look of focused intensity. As Sergeant Joe Friday would say, “just the facts ma’am, just the facts.”
Back to the Stink-o-meter. If I had to pick a number between one and 10, I’d probably give us a 7, at the moment. The trio of Dowell, Bickell and Skille have never given less than 100%, in fact they might actually make a pretty good line – ‘The Rockford File line?” Bolland is starting to skate like a man on a mission, even if he did biff the pass to Pisani on his game winner as Sam I Am noted. Ryan Johnson seems to be a nice pick up. I was reading the St. Louis Gametime program, the cheap knockoff of the Committed Indian, and they were bemoaning the fact that we picked him up. I’m not sure what to make of that because none of the writers for that publication are very bright.
There’s probably more than one or two of you who think “the weather outside is frightful.” Chris Block recently noted, “It seems like no matter what time of day you head out, the temperature is 17 degrees.” I could be delusional, but it always seems to me the crowd is a little more buzzed when the temperature drops like a rock. As Leon Russell noted, “When it’s Christmas in Chicago, it’s the coldest place I know.” It’s so encouraging to drive by a park and see a 10 on 10 game of pick up hockey!
I’ve kept the following piece in my wallet by an unknown author for many years – Happy Holidays Hawkheads!
CHRISTMAS IS FOREVER
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild nations,
To bring peace among brothers, sisters,
To make music in the heart.