Lindbloom: Goon Game and the Panic Dance

“Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job.” – James 5:3

By Rich Lindbloom

“If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it, if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.”  Actually, you’re thinking you’d rather punch someone in the face about right now, aren’t you? The 7 game losing streak has seemed to take the life out of Blackhawk fandom, as most prepare for the worst. While not on par with the collapse of the ‘69 Cubs or the ’11 Red Sox, a lot of fans are abandoning ship. Personally, I’ve exhausted all the possibilities when attempting to answer my friend’s question, “What’s wrong with your Blackhawks?” As the Lemonhead song goes, “Patience is like bread I say, I ran out of it yesterday.”

So how does one go about remaining upbeat or not going into fits of depression as we watch the “Comedy of Errors” that is currently plaguing our men of four feathers? I’m tired of debating what is the biggest cause for concern-(take your pick- goaltending, defense, lack of offense, special teams, dumb plays, unfortuitous bounces, not tough enough, coaching or the most likely cause in my book, reffing.) Basically there’s nothing I can do about what takes place on frozen pond anyway. However, I do have a choice in how I respond to the total collapse. I can control my attitude. One of the most amazing figures in the Bible was a man called Job. The Cliff notes version of this story is that the devil bets God that he can get Job to curse Him. The devil suggested the only reason Job was a righteous man was that he was blessed with much material wealth. Take the prosperity away and Job’s faith would disappear.

God takes the devil up on his wager and literally all hell breaks loose in Job’s life. He loses everything including his children. He is also afflicted with a terrible skin disease. One day, his poor wife finally has enough as she watches Job scrape away scabs with a piece of broken pottery; “Curse God and die,” she exclaims in her anguish. I fear after a few more losses, many Hawk fans will develop a similar mindset. I would caution you, “Look before you leap.”

Here are a few things you might consider doing to get yourselves through these times that trying times.

1.       Buy a harmonica and annoy the hell out your family and friends.

2.       Dance naked to the pulsating sounds of the Hokey Pokey. After all, that’s what it’s all about.

3.       Do the splits, c’mon RoseLee don’t say you can’t do it until you try!

4.       Sing loudly, badly and often in crowded places. Place a hat in front of you for spare change. Ignore the people who put a stipulation on their offering that you must stop.

5.       Write a list of things in life you appreciate-besides a Blackhawk victory.

6.       Recall where you were the first time you heard the Beatles song, “I want to hold your hand.” Ooooh that just gave me a shiver.

7.       Drink two liters of coke and see if you can crush the sound barrier.

8.       Sing the old Batman theme repeatedly.

9.       Speak all day in a robot voice.

10.   Butcher the punch line to a long joke.

11.   Staple papers together in the middle of the page.

12.   Publicly investigate just how slow you can make a croaking noise.

13.   Wear a lot of cologne.

14.   Ask the waitress for a seat for your imaginary friend.

15.   And my personal favorite, demand everyone addresses you as Conquistador.

Before I get back to the serious matter at hand-how to right this teetering ship-I’d like to let you in on a little brainstorm I had while watching the All-Star game. At first, you’re going to think that Lindbloom’s been flying over the cuckoo’s nest again. That’s understandable, but after you stop cursing and mumbling to yourself, “Why do I waste my time reading this crap,” give it some serious thought. Someone could make a lot of money off of this idea – The Goon Game.

Basically, it would be a full contact game, between the top 40 penalty minute leaders in the league. It would be played on Saturday night before the All-Star game. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict the viewing audience would be about 10 times greater than the actual All-Star game. The only rule change would be that there would be no instigator penalty. If a player thinks somebody did somebody wrong, they could jump in and try to mete out instantaneous justice. If an overzealous fan started banging on the glass, the player would not be penalized or fined for going after him. In a throwback to the times when hockey was hockey, there would only be one ref and two linesman. The top two penalty leaders would pick the teams.

Don’t get me wrong, the intent of this game is not to make hockey into some sort of circus side show. Awarding the players on the winning team $50,000/player and the losers some lesser amount, would help to keep the focus on hockey. Of course the owners would initially squawk that a player could be seriously injured in this game. This objection could be overcome by splitting up the bountiful TV revenue generated amongst the teams. Also, goons and enforcers are a dime a dozen anyway, right (????) I’m dead serious about this idea. A lot of these players, in addition to being tough, are skilled hockey players. I think I’d really enjoy watching this contest. Now that I’ve got that out of my system…

Obviously the Blackhawks appear to resemble that cruise ship that went belly up recently. Have we really come to the conclusion that this team is not a contender come playoff times? A good friend of mine actually is trying to convince me the Hawks are in the lower quartile in the league – and this guy has played and followed hockey for over 50 years. I know things are looking rather bleak at the moment, but have a little patience. If you think you’ve got it bad, read a few chapters of the Book of Job.

Last night’s game against the Sharks was thoroughly enjoyable, despite the outcome. It was one of the better Blackhawk efforts in quite a few games. We played with an edge, hit people and even the wild new line combinations seemed to click. I really felt like we deserved a W in that game. Mr. Plank, the editor of the Shark website, fearthefin.com, entitled his wrap up “Sharks survive a scare or three, prevail over the Blackhawks, 5-3.” I like reading his viewpoint, he’s somewhat level headed and has a good insight to the mayhem taking place on the ice. Obviously, when an opponent’s view is summarized with the words “prevail” and “survive,” we must have done something right-something to build on.

Dylan Olsen looked pretty good out there last night. To me, and yes I am a meatball, the play of the game was when an overzealous forechecker took a run at Dylan after he cleared the puck. Despite having a full head of steam, Dylan laid out the Shark who was intent on finishing his check. Now that’s hockey. I realize he scored a goal by deflecting Jumbo Joe Jerks pass attempt, but if the pass had gotten through, the forward in front of our net would have easily have beaten Crawford more than likely.

Andrew Brunette had a very solid game – he seemed to pick it up a notch or two. Actually, after the first period, it seemed like all four Hawk lines were dangerous. I know Coach Q was extremely upset with Stalberg’s painful turnover, but I really don’t think he deserved to sit the rest of the game. There is no player currently wearing the Indian Head that has put forth more effort than Stalberg during this losing streak. “Freddie” Kruger had a solid game, and not just the two goals. Personally, I’m tired of seeing the meatballs on the other teams take a run at Kruger and the refs just signaling, “play on.”

There was also a David Bolland Line sighting last night. Way to go Bicks! Will someone explain to me why McGinn, (#1 star?), did not get an instigator penalty? Andrew Shaw was very active and seemed to breathe life into this hardworking trio. His check on Murray was a questionable penalty in my book. The hirsute, ugly defenseman had the puck-what are you supposed to do-play patty cake with him? You know what; Jamal Mayers didn’t look all that bad on left wing with Toews and dat Horsa guy. The Polish Pickle, Vlasic, seemed to clean his act up when Jamal was placed on the captain’s line.

Our defense, despite surrendering 5 goals, really wasn’t all that bad. Lepisto looked pretty good out there. Olsen is clearly going to be a star for the Hawks, and soon. Who was it that Seabrook laid out in the Sharks zone? Sean O’Donnell is a lot better than people give him credit for. So what exactly went wrong?

For the first time this year, I’m really beginning to question our goaltending. Corey let in five goals on 27 shots. A .800 save percentage is going to spell doom in most NHL hockey games. It was an abysmal performance by Crow who in my opinion needs to stay in his net. I’m really getting tired of watching the opposition fire away at a net with the goaltender outside, or madly scrambling to get back in the crease, it’s killing us. It’s time to seriously consider bring Huet in for an audition. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I think one of the reasons he hasn’t already been summoned is Q is not very fond of him. It seemed like he went out of his way to destroy Huet’s confidence in 09/10. He better think twice before doing it to Stalberg.

The answer to our current woes could possibly found in that word that so aptly described one of my biggest heroes in the Bible, “patience.” We don’t need to trade the core, we don’t need to spend 5 million on a goalie savior. (How’s that working out for Philly with Bryzgalov?) We don’t need to fire Coach Q, Haviland or Kitchen. The losing streak is not even entirely attributable to Stan Bowman. If we put out the effort I saw in last night’s game, we be on our way to righting this ship in a hurry.

The Bible is actually a book of many happy endings. Job, an innocent bystander, is able to withstand all the adversity that came his way. He actually doesn’t even complain until the very end, and then gets an earful from God. “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?…Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation.” If you ever reach the point where you “Have a few questions for God,” I’d advise you to read Chapters 38 and 39 of the Book of Job. In fact, one of the hardest things to understand in this book is that God severely chastises Job, when Job finally reaches the end of his rope. (despite his unwavering devotion and all the pain and torment he suffered in helping to win God’s bet with the devil) In my human mind, I would have given Job an atta boy or two.

The story of Job has a happy ending however. Job regains all his wealth, marries again and has numerous offspring. His patience eventually paid off. Will ours? Despite the confusion and frustration the Hawks are going through right now, I think this season too will have a happy ending. If it does, I insist that if you see me at a game or shoot me an e-mail, that you refer to me as “Conquistador” from now on. I think I’m going to buy a harmonica today.

Rich Lindbloom is the author of the book War Drums in the Distance, a collection of articles Rich authored on the Blackhawks in their path to the 2010 Stanley Cup.  The book is available at Amazon.com.

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One Response to Lindbloom: Goon Game and the Panic Dance

  1. Rich, or should I call you Conquistador, that was a classic. I still have tears of laughter streaming down my face. Well done sir.

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