Mar 232011

By Rich Lindbloom

At first glance one might think that’s a picture of Jonathan Toews destroying a locker after a “heartbreaking” loss to Dallas last week. If you look a little closer though, you’ll recognize a young Pete Townsend taking some angst out on his H Watt amplifiers. One can only imagine what Keith Moon is doing to his drum set at this point. So what the hell does this have to do with Chicago – Blackhawk – Hockey?

Stop whatever you’re doing right now and list your three all time favorite concerts. (RoseLee, you can’t mention Frank Sinatra three times.) I’m pretty sure that I can tell you about one that tops anything you’ve ever witnessed, and I wasn’t even there. It’s a rare treat to catch a group before they make it big, in a smaller venue where the sound is so much better than an arena like the U.C. In my estimation, and I know as much about music as I do hockey, there is no better place to see a concert than the Auditorium Theatre. (The House of Blues is a close second.)  I had one friend who saw U-2 in the 70’s at the Park West – can you imagine seeing U-2 in their formative years?! But even that pales to the tale I’m about to expound on.

I used to work with a guy who was convinced he was a government experiment to see how many drugs a student could take and still graduate from college. The name has been changed to protect the innocent, but “Franco,” (don’t touch me or any of my stuff), witnessed the grand daddy of all concerts. Hopefully you’ll send me some stories of your favorite concerts, I’d love to hear them. However I doubt anything could top this particular Who concert in the early 70’s. Have you ever heard someone describe a concert as a religious experience?

The year was 1971 and the group that helped put pinball on the map was paying a visit to the Windy City. The Who was known for their truculent approach to music and instrument mutilation. Songs like My Generation, Magic Bus, Pinball Wizard and I Can’t Explain, I’m sure are etched upon many of your minds. I know more than one or two of you purchased The Who Live at Leeds. Our hero took his seat in, you’ve probably guessed it by now, the Auditorium Theatre, anticipating windmill guitars and intense drum licks. I’ve seen many great drummers, but I’d have to say Moon is my favorite. The word inimitable comes to mind. As an article I read put it, Moon didn’t fill in spaces or try to keep a rhythm; he was one of four soloists in the band.

If you can remember as far back as 1971, you might recall an album entitled Who’s Next. If this album isn’t in your top five of all time you are truly a sick individual in need of psychiatric help. Or, perhaps you were born after 1990 and have no recollection of the British Invasion. Kids now a day’s don’t know what they missed! At any rate, when the boys took the stage the audience was anxiously anticipating some of their classics, wondering how many instruments would remain intact by the group’s finale. (I guess you knew when The Who were finished playing – they had no instruments left.) Little did they know the rare treat they were in for.

The album Who’s Next had not been released yet, but the band tore through that classic in its entirety. Stop and think about it for a second; imagine you’ve never heard “Baba O’Riley, Behind Blue Eyes, The Song is Over, Going Mobile or Won’t Get Fooled Again.” The latter song is a bit of a paradox when you think about it. I can imagine the Auditorium full of a bunch high monsters being lulled to sleep as Keith Moon took a break towards the end of that song. As the synthesizer captured everyone’s rapt attention, (has there ever been a more mesmerizing sound?), Moon sits back down and in classic form launches a maddening attack on his expansive drum kit. Moon always seemed to look at his drums in an adversarial manner, sort of a let’s see who’s left standing when all was said and done. Add the classic windmill of Townsend and Daltry’s primeval scream at the end of the song and you can imagine everyone in attendance begging for more as the band exited the stage. “Same as the old boss,” indeed. But as usual I digress…

As I drove to work yesterday The Who’s song “Who Are You,” came on the radio. It instantly reminded me of a question I’m sure is on the minds of Hawk fans throughout Chicago and Phoenix. (Didn’t it appear the Hawks were playing at the U. C. last Sunday?) Just who are these players who wear the Indian on their chest this year? This question started around 5:30am Monday morning as I waited for the coffee to percolate. Truly one of life’s greatest blessings is sitting down with a fresh cup of coffee before the day and its cacophonous demands take over. As I reflected on the hard fought victory over the Coyotes, the thought of comparing this team to the movie Sybil and her 12 personalities came to mind. Then I read Sam Fels excellent post game wrap and saw he used the word schizophrenic in describing the team.

Are we the team that pummeled the Sharks or the team that was pistol whipped by Dallas? While we hang on with both hands, seemingly having our fingers intermittently stomped on, which team do you think will show up tonight against the “lowly” Panthers. Bear in mind the Panthers have only lost three times in regulation over their last 9 games. Those losses were all by one goal. This in no way, shape or form figures to be a cake walk. Personally, I prefer the team that has a swagger in their stride, a ‘we’re coming at you and there’s nothing you can do to stop us.’ The “I’m Kris Versteeg, bitch” mindset that we all grew so accustomed to last year.

Will we see the Bonsai Hawks described so well by Killion a few months back when he described Byfuglien this year; “cover me cuz I’m going in.” Hack in the most recent Atop the Sugar Pile assessment stated that Campoli makes Campbell look like a stay at home defenseman. Leddy can get pretty frisky himself. Duncan has seemingly had as many different personalities as Sybil this year. (But boy did I appreciate him working his tale off for over 30 minutes of ice time on against Phoenix.) I’d like to see Seabs keep playing with a chip on his shoulder, punishing anything foolish enough to cross our blue line. Which brings me to the ever controversial #32 car.

Pressed into emergency service since Campbell was injured, John Scott has played better than anticipated. (Bear in mind I didn’t anticipate a lot.)  I thought all year that if Scott were to dress, he’d be most effective on defense. He is not a forward; if I were to describe him I’d call him a “kick ass d-man.” Despite Big John’s question marks, he really is a likeable person. Personally, I kind of like his considerable presence in front of our net. If he’s out on the ice against the other teams checking lines, and our forwards take a defense first mind set, we should get by until #51 gets back. (Please hurry!) Look at it this way; if Philly can dress Boynton, we most certainly can afford to have Big John patrolling our zone. One last thing I’ve noticed when Scott is on the ice; the other teams tough guys aren’t so tough, are they? Ott reminded me of Bartleby in the Melville story, Bartleby the Scrivener. When asked by Big John if he wanted to go, Ott sheepishly said, “I would prefer not to.”

Despite my attempts to help Coach Q with his lineup, he has rarely taken my advice this year. I said I liked the chemistry on the “Eastern Bloc” line the first time they were thrown together. Against Phoenix all three commies seemed to elevate their games, for the most part dominating the puck. Hossa seems to have an overdrive few in the NHL possess. I know he gets a lot of criticism for money vs. reward from the fans – but man I like seeing him on the ice. Kopecky continues to work his tail off, whatever line he’s assigned to for the night. I thought Frolik had one of the best games he’s played for us on Sunday, really noticing his desire to play defense. Will Hossa get to ply his trades with these line mates for awhile, or will he continue to line up at the face off dot and ask “Who are you?” with Marcus Kruger joining the club, that’s a pertinent question. Just what Hossa needs, another meatball on his line. Oy vey.

I also thought Pisani played well and is a faster skater than I realized – he certainly plays both ways. As Hack noted “Johnson was “horsing dudes at the dot.” Someone will have to explain to me why Brouwer is not on one of our top two lines. Coach Q, just in case you’re wondering who #22 is, he’s a bruising power forward, with speed to burn, that relishes digging loose pucks out of the corner. In addition, he seems to think he has as much right to the opposition’s crease as their goalie. Any plans to make and then advance in the playoffs must include Brou-dog.

The million dollar question is who will be filling in for Sharpie on the Day Dream Nation line. The good news is whether it was Brouwer or Stalberg on Sunday, the puck seemed to never leave the Coyote’s zone. Toews will not ask whoever fills in on their line, “Who are you?” He’ll say “If you don’t want me to bust this stick over your head you’d better be hustling. I’m telling you up front, I won’t tolerate ineptitude. That includes you to, party boy. Did you hear what that crap did to Keith Moon?”

Well I better put a wrap on this ramble. I do have to tell you one more story though. Back in the 70’s I worked at Oak Forest H. S. as a custodian. We were stripping and then varnishing the gym floor one Saturday. Let me tell you something – I was high as a kite after awhile from sniffing the varnish. I had a boom box blaring and just about the time I finished, the song “Who Are You,” was blasted by one of the XRT DJ’s. It was a new release and the first time I heard it. However, as Pistachio said in the classic movie Master of Disguise, “The question is not who am I, the question is who are you, I know who I am.” (Yes, the effects of that varnish continue to linger until this day.)

Who are we? For better or worse we’re about to find out, Hawk fans. With the rash of injuries we’ve suffered lately, that’s a perplexing question. Here’s a hint; we’re the defending Stanley Cup Champions. And if you’re honest about it, there have been times this year we resembled that title.

As the Daltry sings in “Baba O’Riley,”

“Out here in the fields
I fight for my meals
I get my back into my living…”

Put a little back into it boys. Maybe we’ll be surprised by that primeval scream we heard around 10:30 on June 9, 2010. Hopefully the referee, goal judge, announcers and just about anyone else who witnessed Kaner’s dagger “Will get fooled again!”

Rich Lindbloom

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