There is no Dark Side of the Blackhawks
By Rich Lindbloom
Last Saturday I sat down to catch up on my BSF study that was placed on the backburner for the last three weeks. (After all these years, I’m still cramming the night before the test.) Were almost through the first 39 chapters of Isaiah – not exactly a stroll in the park. As I began to ponder the questions on my worksheet, a vivid splash of color mysteriously appeared on the living room floor. The best way to describe it I guess would be to say it looked like a rainbow that Picasso would have painted – the colors were intense purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red.
Trying to focus on the matter at hand was proving to be an exercise in futility. Not only were my eyes transfixed, my mind began racing with numerous ways to contrast the Hawks current state of affairs, with the splash of color. I seriously wondered if Satan was trying to keep me from my study or God was just rewarding me with a beautiful bouquet for my inquiries into His word.
I quickly traced the source of the splendid splash to a Christmas ornament hanging in the mudroom window that contained a prism, some 40 feet away. As I continued to observe this uninvited, highly entertaining guest, I noticed the size of the splash would change from about 18 square inches to 4 square inches. I felt like I was at a private art exhibit.
Ok, I know, you’re all thinking Lindbloom’s been flying over the cuckoo’s nest again. Yet, as I pondered the recurring “rebellion – judgment- salvation – restoration” message contained in Isaiah, I also found myself scribbling little notes to the side that would become this article. You see, in my glass is “half full” world, there have been plenty of splashes of light from our beloved warriors that bear the Indian Head. Heck, Sunday’s game against the upstart Islanders, was a veritable Aurora Borealis!
I realize “we all knew the bride when she used to rock and roll” as Nick Lowe sang. Last year, actually the last three years, have been comparable to a wild courtship and a honeymoon on some tropical island. Now were married to this team, and like a spouse, have begun to unearth some serious faults with our significant other. A lot of the analyses I’ve read, whether in the sport pages or various web sites, are clear indications of the “I have a headache or we need to talk” stages of marriage. The “Give it to me baby,” phase has been replaced with Louis Ginsberg’s poignant observation:
Life is ever
Since man was born,
From a thorn.
But, if we stop long enough to smell the flowers as Ben Hogan so sagaciously advised, you’ll see there have been plenty of splashes of color even in this tumultuous season. Actually, they stick out all the more so when contrasted with our often times, Titanic struggles to stay afloat. Let’s consider some of the colorful splashes emanating from this year’s Hawks.
First off, finally, we seem to have the line up in a lot of us have been clamoring for. (or at least not playing one or two colorful characters perhaps unfairly singled out for our woes this year.) I have the pleasure of sitting next to the Fels brothers with our season tickets. Other than Sam trying to buy my daughter a beer, or the burning of his Keith jersey, we agree on most aspects of the team. At one point during the Star’s game I mentioned to Adam that I had a hard time figuring out the lines when I watched the King’s game. Adam laughed and noted it was like Coach Q had apparently digressed to the “You, you and you go in.” His other persistent directive from behind the bench as was so humorously noted in the last Committed Indian – “Bench him!!”
I don’t know how many of you heard the Eric Nesterenko interview on Judd’s post game show after the Islander game; it was a gem. At one point Eric mentioned something that made an awful lot of sense to me. He said he and his line mates in 1961, Litzenberger and Murphy, were very tight. I think that only comes from playing together consistently and developing a sense of pride in your lines contributions to the team. I say this realizing the challenges presented to the coaching staff with the roster decimation and injuries they’ve faced this season. Hopefully Coach Q will strive for a little more consistency as we come “spinning around the turn,” and heading into the backstretch.
There has always been a synergistic effect when tossing Toews and Kane into the same test tube. By the way, have you ever noticed the dipsy doodle technique the #88 car skates with? His skating style is so recognizable – it reminds me of Denis Savard motoring up the ice. I loved Killion’s line in last Friday’s wrap up of the Senator’s game, “Chris Phillips was caught in no man’s land with no idea what Kane was about to do.” That was one sick move Patrick and an even sicker shot. When he’s not suffering from the Irish flu, not many teams in the league have a weapon like Kaner.
I’m of the uniformed opinion that our fourth and third lines are interchangeable. That solidarity that Nesterenko mentioned might develop quickly with the “In the Doghouse” line, Simple Jack/Dowell/and the Swedish speedster. By the way, the definition of the word dowel in Funk and Wagnall’s is “a pin or peg fitted tightly into adjacent holes of two pieces so as to hold them together.” Coach Q, it’s a sign from heaven – keep this kamikaze line together. From all appearances, Skille could have been a pilot for the Japanese in WW2. Bolland’s current line, that includes Bickell and Pisani, also seems to be clicking. I’m still not sure what to make of Pisani, however Bolland’s game has definitely raised a notch or two. Bickell has a twisted wrister and looks like a hockey player. Wouldn’t you love to hear a conversation between Brian and Keith before they put their choppers back in?
Sharp and the Slovak’s continue to gel. Actually, both of our top lines suffocated the puck in the Islanders zone on Sunday. In a little followed statistic, Kopecky has taken over the league lead in having his helmet knocked off in front of the oppositions net. He’s currently second in the league in getting punched in the face. I continue to believe Hossa is the best player on the team – perhaps some of his dearth of scoring lately has been a result of playing without a bonafide center. Thankfully, Sharp has taken over for Kopecky at that spot and has learned how to say, “Pass me the puck,” in Slovakian. As Larry Deutsch pointed out with a little help from John Lennon, “Happiness is a warm gunner.”
Our defensive tandems have definitely been a sight for sore eyes the last two games. Hard to figure out why Hendry hasn’t been on the third pairing since day one. Leddy put a move on a fore checker on Sunday that belied his 19 years of age. Most of our d-men would have banged the puck up along the boards hoping one of our wingers would take over. #8 circled back, creating time and space, while maintaining puck possession. I realize at 179 #’s he’s going to have problems clearing out the front of the net – but other teams might be well advised to keep a wary eye on this puck moving, vibrant splash of color! I’m thinking the crowd might start feeling a little electricity in the air when he touches the puck.
Speaking of electricity, Mr. Big, Corey Crawford, continues to astound us and baffle our opponents. I’m of the opinion he’s no fluke – the kid can play. However… his Mouseketeer status may be headed the way of the decadent Brittany Spears. Was it just me, or was he putting the moves on Sarah Kustok at the end of his postgame interview last week? When he wished her a happy birthday, she turned about 3 different shades of red! (See what I mean about those splashes of color?)
A couple of closing splashes of color in this gut check season. Wednesday I scored two extra tickets to the Stars game. My son Greg and I had the Section 320 seats, and my wife and daughter were the lucky recipients of 100 level tickets. When I got home from work, Nathalie told me that Taylor wanted to sit up in the 300 section with me. When I was telling Adam Fels this story, the guy next to him gave her a thumbs up sign – sort of a welcome to the true fans section. At one point during the game a fan to the left of Taylor said we need to start hitting. I asked him if he had heard of the Donna Summers song, “Let’s get physical, physical, let me hear your body talk.” Taylor quickly interjected, “Please don’t sing dad.” The guy also echoed, “Yeah don’t sing.” (Not that it matters, but it has since been pointed out to me that it’s actually an Olivia Newton John song.)
Taylor also let me in on a story about Tommy Hawk, a mascot that somewhat annoys me. I miss the 5 to 6 drummers at the old stadium that would try to fire up the crowd. It added atmosphere to the joint. At any rate, Taylor was at a game a few weeks ago when a little tyke by her said “Look daddy, it’s the hockey bird! Can I go talk to the hockey bird?” Like this year’s team, Tommy Hawk is finally begun making sense to me.
Ah the hockey bird; will it “Fly high like a bird up in the sky,” as Billy Preston once sang? Or will this season prove the following statement by Robert frost to be true – “Happiness makes up in height what it lacks in length.” I’m of the opinion that we’re beginning to soar. Either way, I hope you can enjoy the splashes of color along the way; they’ll be there if you have eyes to see.