Mar 022011

Snoopy: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

By Rich Lindbloom

“No more darkness no more night
Praise the lord I saw the light.” – Hank Williams Sr.

According to Audrey Williams, Hank Williams wrote the song I Saw the Light on his way home from touring in Alabama. As Snoopy would put it, “It was a dark and stormy night…” Hank and his band travelled in a car that kept breaking down on them the whole time they were gone. They were on their way to Montgomery, Alabama and the car was about to quit again. I doubt many of you have driven along a country road in the Deep South lined with tall pine trees, so it might be hard to describe to you just how dark that gets.  Let’s just say you can’t count the stars on a clear night.

Reportedly the night Hank and the boys were heading home, it was stormy and pitch black. Their car started acting up on them again, causing them to wonder if they were going to make it back home. All of the sudden, Hank spotted the beacon of light at the Montgomery Airport and hollered, “We’re ok now boys…we’re gonna make it…I saw the light” When he got home that night, those 4 words, I saw the light kept reverberating over and over in his head. Finally, he sat down and began writing, finishing the classic gospel song the next morning. Now this is just me thinking, (always a scary proposition), but I think Hank might have had a little divine help when he penned this song.

Although Jim Morrison of the Doors once angrily shouted, “You cannot petition the Lord with prayer,” how else can you explain our current 6-1-0 streak? I wouldn’t go so far as suggesting divine intervention as the cause for our sudden good fortune, however someone appears to have rolled the stone away from the tomb that read,

Rest in Peace
Chicago Blackhawks
2008 – 2011 (Or longer)

Even the most pessimistic Hawk fans have stopped saying things like, “Even if we do make the playoffs, it’s four and out.” All the sudden there is a bright light beginning to shine at the end of this long 82 game tunnel. Although it’s tempting to point to one thing in their sudden turn around, clearly this has been a team effort. (Ok, Toews is a freak) However, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read several websites almost sing John Scott’s praise after he administered, as one blogger put it, “a text book ass-whooping,” to Brad Staubitz. Could a warm embrace of Kopecks’ be in the not too distant future – ok I realize I’m pushing my luck here! I went to the Hockey Fights web site and read about 50 reviews of this one-sided affair between Big Bad John and Mickey Rooney.

“Staubitz was grinning because his head was still attached to his shoulders,” – “You don’t give no lip to Big John,” – “Staubitz went home and wrote in his diary, ‘when we play the Hawks, stay home with the flu,” – “It looked like ken Norton vs. Gary Coleman,” were a few of the pearls of wisdom set forth to describe this beat down. Big Bad John probably had the best quote – reportedly just before he gave Staubitz the paddling he said, “You can’t be doing that. You’re going to hurt somebody.” (man this reminded me of Lenny from Of Mice and Men) What I really found odd were the replies from apparent Minnesota fans bemoaning the fact that Big Bad John was no longer skating for the Wild. While Hank Williams finally saw the light, Staubitz’s misfortune that night was aptly summarized in the Canadian rocker Pat Travers version of the song “Boom Boom out go the lights.”

No kiddin’
I’m ready to fight
I’ve been looking for my baby all night
If I get her in my sight
Boom Boom! Out go the lights.

While I would consider myself the anti-Don Cherry, clearly this bout was an occasion where the fight actually was an integral part of the game. Despite the barbarian known as “Grapes” claiming the retiree’s in Florida watch hockey for the violence, I just don’t see much purpose in two murderous thugs dropping the gloves two minutes into the first period. However, Hawk fans, do you realize we probably have the baddest hombre in the league on our roster. It was reported one of the reasons John Ferguson of the Canadians eventually retired was that he thought he might kill somebody on the ice. That thought crossed my mind as Staubitz unwisely refused to go down. (On a side note, the first time Keith Magnuson faced Ferguson he sent him flying into the Hawk bench!) The only drawback to Big Bad John’s unanimous decision was I’m afraid it might get Coach Q thinking again. I didn’t get a chance to listen to Judd Sirott’s post game show, but he has been pointing out that Scott does serve a purpose on this team for most of the season. For one night at least, his observation was brought home with an overabundance of clarity. No doubt, Brian Campbell appreciated Big Bad John’s immediate response.

I had to chuckle at something another piece of the puzzle that is the 2010-11 Chicago Blackhawks said. When Leddy was questioned about letting Marty Havlat get behind him he said, “I had a little mind–blank there.” For those of you who don’t speak Canadian (Minnesota is close enough), allow me to translate; “My mind went blank for a moment.” Despite his struggles with the English language, Leddy continues to improve. He’ll never be a “Murdersaurus” as Blackhawk Up noted in the Boxing with Bartl section – but I’ve certainly seen worse man the blue line for us.

While on the subject of Boxing with Bartl, his picture of Toews and his quips associated with said picture are bound to go down in Blackhawk folklore. We are so fortunate that Jeff is able to channel Toews mind. The latest quip said, “I hope you all know how lucky you are to be watching me take over games whenever I want.” The #19 car was named the NHL player of the month of February. He had 6 goals, 15 assists and was a + 13! Three of his goals were game winners. I wrote a piece in response to an Al Cimaglia post suggesting that Scott be moved to the Hawks first line. I was shocked to read how many people thought I was the Village Idiot. But once again, I ask you to pause and carefully reflect on the effect Toews could have on Big John. Look what he’s done for Sharp and Kane.

I know what you’re thinking; “Is he kidding or could he actually be serious?” Only my hairdresser knows for sure. One thing I’m sure about is not many teams have an adequate response to the Sharp-Toews-Kane triumvirate. I recall reading on one of the blogs yesterday, “Why do teams keep leaving Sharp get so wide open around the net?” I think the answer could be found in the Talking Heads song – Slippery People. The only thing that has a chance of slowing this juggernaut down is the House of the Rising Sun. “Oh Mrs. Kane, tell your children now, not to do what I have done. Spend your life in sin ad misery in the …” Or, perhaps, Coach Q taking my suggestion and bumping Big Bad John up a few slots.

A player who has certainly gotten a lot more serious lately is my favorite, the #2 car. I think the turning point in the season was when Keith spoke up and criticized his teammates for not knock, knock, knocking on the goal mouth’s door. I’m not saying he was right to point a finger – we all know when you point your finger at someone you have three more pointing back at you. It just seems from that point on Keith has played with a 10 on the Tenacity Meter. Can you say “walk the talk?” He’s gotten more physical and looks like he wants to kick a little booty out there. There has to be a hunger within players to win in this league – it’s that simple. There is no such thing as driving in the automatic mode in the NHL – Keith appears to have down shifted – now keep red lining it #2.

I’m afraid Viktor Stalberg is about to blow an engine the way he’s flying about the ice. Same thing with Frolik, who seems to get the sense of urgency at this juncture of the season. Hopefully all their hard work will begin paying off. Our third and now fourth lines appear to be becoming more of an asset than a liability.  Ryan Johnson appears to have stepped up to the plate and taken over John Madden’s role. He’s certainly helped shore up one of our glaring weaknesses this year, the faceoff dot. Like the #4 car, Johnson also appears to have no problem eating rubber on the PK.

In closing, I’d like to say I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet. Let’s just say we can whistle in the dark with a little more confidence. Actually, our zealousness for this team finally seems to be maturating. All season long it’s sort of been a “I’m not getting my hopes up for this team.” I think we’re finally getting over what was and starting to enjoy what is. Yes, that spotlight at the Montgomery airport is just around the corner, so to speak. It might not be too long before we’re joyfully saying, “we’re ok now boys…we’re gonna make it…I saw the Light.”

Amen and hallelujah!

Rich Lindbloom

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