By Rich Lindbloom
When I was working as a foreman back in the 70’s a worker named Gus came up to me and said, “Rich, the Stones gone disco.” I had no idea what he was talking about and had him repeat what he was saying about three times. Finally I said “Gus, there is no way on God’s green earth the Stones would play a disco song. None, zippo.” Sure enough, a few days later the song “Miss You,” had flooded the air waves. Not exactly “Gimme Shelter, but actually the song was pretty catchy. It had a groove that had the potential to make a crackah think he could dance.
Out of all the genre’s of music that have emerged over the decades, Disco had to be my least favorite. It was a time of leisure suits, chest hair, ostentatious medallions, big hair, The Bee Gee’s and John Travolta. I recall talking about disco one day with my boss who would spin records on the side. This guy would scour garage sales for old Jazz albums and I really respected his musical taste. When I began mocking the Village People, in particular the song YMCA, he said something that I’ll never forget.
“Rich, that’s a party song!” said Jim. I think about that moment every time I hear it now and realize he was right. It’s just fun, so easy to dance to. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the lyrics-just do the two step until the chorus comes and then throw those hands in the air! Although I’ve always struggled with the M, less so with the C, the Y and the A are a piece of cake.
When the Hawks scored 4 goals in the first 11 minutes against the Eastern Conference leading Rangers, it was a Y-M-C-A moment. Although there were evil, lingering doubts, I thought to myself “even we can’t blow this.” It was fun stuff-Partee! What do you say we break down the three game winning streak alphabetically.
“Because we like you.” Despite breaking our hearts and turning into the laughing stock of the NHL, (hell, even some of our mortal enemies started feeling sorry for us), true Blackhawk fans have a special spot in their heart for the Hawks. When they lose, we die a little. The road trip from hell has certainly increased the defibrillator sales in Chicago. For awhile there, Blackhawk hockey resembled a good loving gone bad.
When the Hawks went up 4-0 on the Rangers I told my son, “Greg, you know what you do with a four goal lead?” His answer, “Go for ten!” was not exactly what I was looking for. Actually, the correct answer was “You pull up a chair and sit on it.” Which had me wondering “Y” our daring young man on the flying trapeze, Viktor Stalberg, decided to head backwards in the 3rd period against the Rangers. I would love to hear Viktor’s explanation of that decision. Stals, remember, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Other than a few dunderhead decisions though, Viktor continues his metamorphosis into one of the Hawks most dangerous weapons. His supersonic speed, setting Bolland up for a wide open shot from the slot against the Rangers, was Hossian in comparison. Y Coach Q is only playing him 10 to twelve minutes a game remains a mystery.
Finally Y stands for, Yes, Yes, Yes! – three in a row including a great comeback in the third period over the much despised Bluenotes. A Bolland ricochet shot going in off the skate of agitator extraordinaire and Tazer wanna be, David Backes, was the icing on the cake.
Probably a good place to start here would be Marian, as in I’m Marian Hossa, and you ain’t. Get over it. Two plays against the Rangers led to two goals mere mortals stood no chance against. On his breakaway it appeared he was going to be caught by a scrambling Ranger d-man. He skates so powerfully; even a macho man like Cowboy would be impressed with those long, massive strides. Big Hoss blazed in alone, after a great feed from the player a lot of mental midgets want to get rid of for a real hockey player (?), snapping a shot past the beleaguered Biron. Marian’s pass to Leddy after ragging the puck like he was the king of pond hockey, was a clear cut example of a man among boys. His empty netter after a fine defensive play along the boards had the fans in St. Louis once again singing the blues. Do we really have to play those nozzles three more times?
Murdersuarus continues to log playing time in the absence of Montador and Hjarlmarrson. (Get well fast boys) He actually had a great assist on Leddy’s goal, screening Biron with his lumbering 6’8” frame. Biron should have squatted down a little lower and he might have been able to see through Scott’s five hole, rather than try to peak around him. In a momentary lapse of meatheadedness, Fluffy wasted an unsuspecting Ranger forward, that led many Hawk and Ranger fans to cursing his name. (I believe Scott was trying to send a message-it’s clobbering time) In the ensuing kerfuffle, Scott was getting attacked by three of the Lilliputians in blue but was still able to grab the guy who had a hold of Andrew Shaw. Scott actually won the Trifecta this past week, dropping the gloves in three consecutive games.
Dorsett on the Blue Jackets, for reasons known only to him, decided to pick a fight with big Bad John. While I truly admire his courage and trying to give his team a lift, he’d be advised to wear some platform skates next time he loses his mind. The toughest part of this bout was the Fluffster trying to shake the glove off his left hand. It was just that sort of day for Columbus, who had won 4 out of their last 6 games. The bout I’ve been waiting for all season was between BBJ and Reaves on the Blues. In hockey this is what’s known as the Heavyweight division. Reaves has taken over the job of Cam Janssen on the Blues, which is to say he’s out there basically to satisfy the bloodlust of the Bluenote’s fans. Reaves wisely decided to turn this altercation into a wrestling match, rather than exchange blows with Scott. I fully expect a few more rounds between these two ruffians before the season’s over. There is no doubt in my mind Coach Q dresses Scott anytime we play those knuckleheads by the muddy Mississippi.
M is also for Ryan Miller who a lot of writers and fans we’re clamoring for to right our sinking ship. “We need Ryan Miller and we need him now!” That they would even consider trading Kaner for Miller leaves me wondering if the 9 game losing streak had many turning to crack cocaine in order to cope.
Ah, C for core. Tazer, Hossbollah, Kaner, Sharpie, Bolland, Seabs and Keith. I’d stack these 7 guys against any other 7 players on an NHL roster. Each one of them contributed at both ends of the ice, finally snapping the 9 game losing streak that had many in the NHL hovering over us like a flock of ravenous vultures. The turnaround began when Tazer was tapped on the shoulder to take the penalty shot against Biron in the Ranger game. You could have driven a truck through Biron’s five-hole on that play. It was the beginning of several breakaways and odd man rushes the Hawks had. We actually resembled The Preds, who in my book are the kings of the odd man attack. Tazer had a 100 foot, tape to tape pass that sprung Sharpie for our third tally. Led by the human rocket, Viktor Stalberg, the Hawks scorched the Rangers defense with their blazing speed. And for one reason or another, it seemed like we gave up zero odd man rushes against the Rags and Jackets.
C is for coaches, perhaps the one’s most maligned, during the series of unfortunate events streak. Perhaps the biggest reason, (in more ways than one), Q continues to draw the ire of Hawk’s fans is his man love for Big Bad John. Despite a career 579 wins, 356 losses and 77 ties, many had thought firing Coach Q was the answer to our problems. When you want to know what was the turning point in our second Stanley Cup Championship in three years, look back to a practice and a post game interview surrounding the Predator game. We are all familiar with the Quenneville scowl. He comes over as a no-nonsense, crabby appleton and you don’t want to get in his doghouse. After the Hawks lost to the Coyotes, I was thinking, “Man I’ll bet practice is going to be a burning hell tomorrow.” Instead I was quite pleased to hear Coach Q made the practice fun with a lot of corny drills that seemed to lighten up the somber mood.
Despite a solid effort against the Predators, we once again lost and I awaited Joel’s words of wisdom in the post game interview. Surprisingly, it wasn’t an agitated Q, but one who was shaking his head. He even wore a 4-leaf clover. In the interview, correctly so, Coach Q gave his troops a pat on the back instead of a kick in the fanny. The losing streak had gone beyond the bizarre and into the absurd. Our season had turned into dark Van Gogh painting.
C also stands for two crunching checks that sent Blackhawk warriors dusting off their britches. In the Ranger game, both Bickell and Kruger were hit with crushing checks, but both times the puck exited our zone. Either one of them could have made a pusillanimous play on the puck, but instead played the body, not allowing the Ranger forward access any deeper into our zone. Plays like that are normally left for the playoffs, but it was an indication of the intestinal fortitude and desire to win by these two role players.
One more great big C, actually two of them – Corey Crawford – Mr. Big when he stays glued to his crease. Welcome back to our favorite Mouseketeer. We’ve missed “good Corey.”
Angry. Agitated. Assault. Attack. Ambush. Antipathy. More of that please. One thing I noted during the ranger game was “Age.” Specifically the age difference between Father Time, Sean O’Donnell, and rookie Dylan Olsen as they sat next to each other on the bench. It looked like a Father/Son game. Both blue liners have played well during the absence of Hjarlmarrson and Monty, although against the Rangers I noticed Dylan didn’t look quite to smooth out there. This prompted a reply by Krome at secondcityhockey.com that really hit the nail on the head. He said at every level you move up, there’s a tendency to stand around until you can get adjusted to the increased speed and skill at the new level.
As the saying goes, when in doubt, “Hit Someone!” Dylan played almost 20 minutes against the Blues, leading the way with 6 hits and a +2. I remember responding to Krome saying, “Can you imagine this kid three years from now when he’s skating with the confidence of a Brent Seabrook?” One other thing I noted – Sean O’Donnell is pretty adept at taking out the garbage from in front of our crease. Way to go, ya great big goofy Newfie.
A as in Andrew Brunette, who clearly has one of the most identifiable skating techniques in the NHL. He looks like he’s pulling a U-Haul as he lumbers up the ice to get back on defense. (A little bit of Kate Smith dragging the moon over the mountain.) But boy is he good along the boards and behind the goal line. The only thing I remembered about Bruno when they announced he was acquired by the Hawks was that he was always a thorn in our side. His pass to Freddy in the Columbus game was a surgical strike. Ever notice the composure Bruno has with the puck. The “Odd Trio Line” Bruno/Freddy/and dat Horsa guy, have been surprisingly effective.
Despite a three game winning streak, the Doubting Thomases of Blackhawk hockey still don’t trust this team. However after a 9 game losing streak, it is clearly time to “Partee!” Trust me, with a basic two step and some simple hand motions you’ll be giving John Travolta a run for his money in no time. In fact, thinking about the possibility of the United Center doing the Y-M-C-A after they trounce the Wings, brings back a distant memory.
Back in 8th grade I attended our graduation dance at St. Anne’s. Wallflower, stiff as a board and the anti-James Brown would be an apt description of my dancing prowess. In my defense, it’s not easy dancing to” Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream. The Casanova’s in our class, Rick Morales and Jerry Lendi among others, grabbed me and forced me into the bathroom. Imagine my surprise when instead of getting a swirly, Rick said, “Lindbloom, I’m going to teach you how to dance.” After going over the basic two step which I struggled with, Rick told me, “Just listen to the drumbeat.” I can still recall observing Rick and trying to follow his moves – hysterical! I’m so glad all these I-phone contraptions weren’t around back then.
It kind of reminds me of all those cowboy and Indian movies I watched as a kid. Remember all the braves dancing around the fire to the pulsating sounds of the war drums? Rick just might have been on to something.
Let’s get our groove on Hawk fans. It’s time to listen to the drum beat Hawks.
“Young man, there’s no need to feel down,
I said young man, pick yourself off the ground..”
Let me hear you now – everybody!
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.