May 172014

Lindbloom_TheBoss_2014May17Growing Up 

“I stood stone-like at midnight, suspended in my masquerade
I combed my hair till it was just right and commanded the night brigade
I was open to pain and crossed by the rain and I walked on a crooked crutch
I strolled all alone through a fall out zone and came out with my soul untouched
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, but when they said “Sit down,” I stood up
Oooh, growin’ up – Bruce Springsteen

By Rich Lindbloom

Cabbies, limo rides, frat parties and riotous living have accompanied Patrick Kane over his seven year journey as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. Becoming a millionaire before you leave your teens has the potential to corrupt almost anyone (think the Prodigal Son).

As a few of my friends accurately pointed out, there’s a good chance several of us would be dead possessing that kind of cabbage at 18 years of age. Coupled with the mindset of youthful invincibility and instant stardom, it’s a sure recipe for disaster. 

Hoping against hope, there have been times when I’ve wondered if the Hawk brass had enough of Kane’s puerile antics. The possibility of the face of the franchise laying face-down on a bar, as Steve Rosenbloom once noted, did not exactly fit the Hawk’s squeaky clean image. We saw how quickly they dispatched Susannah Collins when they discovered her abuses of the English language.

Collin’s Freudian slip when interviewing one of the Hawks after a game, “You guys had a lot of “sex” on the recent road trip, instead of “success” was the straw that broke the (Comcast/Blackhawks) camels back. It’s a good thing, because I was highly offended. (Not! – I thought it was hilarious.) Apparently the vicars in the Hawks organization felt she was a lost cause, incapable of being reformed. Thankfully, they saved all their grace and mercy for Kaner.

Certainly Kaner has been one of the most exciting – hold your breath – players to ever lace up a pair of Bauers. We have been blessed to watch Patrick Kane literally grow up before our very eyes. Bruce Sprinsteen’s song, Growing Up, from his first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, could almost be Kaner’s anthem.

I can almost hear the echoes of my dad’s voice interspersed among the lyrics when he would tell me to “grow up and act my age.” Trust me. It took longer than seven years for me to finally wake up. Although Kaner will never be confused with a Vienna Choir Boy, he is starting to show signs of maturity in his “old age.”

WXRT DJ Lin Brehmer (the Forrest Gump of DJ’s) pointed out the best description of a goal I’ve ever heard. It was sent in by one of his many astute listeners on Wednesday morning. The listener said his daughter’s friend described the goal by saying, “He put that shot right where mom hides the cookie jar.” The goal of course was the overtime winner against the Wild that propelled the Hawks into their second consecutive Conference Finals.

It was yet another Kaner masterpiece. Color commentator Keith Jones sort of indicated Kane should “sit down” in his post game analysis after Game Four. He questioned 88’s brash “Showtime” comment after Kane scored the winner in Game One. Apparently it’s taboo to wear your heart on your sleeve in the playoffs; that’s just the way Kane plays – a tiger can’t change its stripes.

Fortunately for Hawk fans, Crazy 88 once again “stood up” in Game Six. Although this time instead of saying “Showtime,” he was telling the referee, “It was in, it was in.” In a moment eerily reminiscent of his Stanley Cup winning goal against the Flyers, the puck came out of the net so fast that only Kaner knew the puck went in.

Behind Cor-dawg’s stellar work between the pipes, the Hawks eliminated a pesky, talented Wild team, 4 games to 2. Although as Mary Dixon, (Brehmer’s cohort on the XRT morning show), noted after Game Four’s  2-1 victory “It wasn’t pretty.” Her next comment, “But nothing is in hockey,” was quickly amended by saying “Except for Patrick Sharp; Patrick Sharp is pretty.”

By the way, for all the fans pointing out that Sharp has gone AWOL in the playoffs, against the Wild he had 1 goal, 4 assists, was +4 and had rifled 17 shots on net in 6 games. When Narci-sharpie isn’t staring at himself in a mirror, he’s actually been pretty busy. His shooting percentage is only 5.1% as opposed to 10.9% over the course of the regular season. That should correct itself over the course of the remainder of the playoffs. If it does, the chances of another parade this summer increase exponentially.

Mary Dixon’s comment that “Nothing is pretty in hockey, except Sharpie,” did get me a bit on the defensive side. There is plenty that is pretty in hockey if you stop and think about it. Throughout a game there are numerous pretty passes and post hugging shots. Watching two Stanley Cup banners being hoisted to the rafters was a thing of beauty! Keith Magnuson’s flowing red hair – how about that one ladies? (Sharpie got nothing on Maggie, right RoesLee!) Stan Makita, Jean Beliveau of Jean Ratelle smoothly skating up ice with a head of speed, leaving a trail of opponent’s jock straps in their wake was definitely a work of art.

Watching John Scott administer a paddlin’ to Deryk Engelland after the Penguin tried to end Marcus Kruger’s career, warmed the cockles of my soul. With every crushing blow to the ribs, I gained a newfound appreciation for Scott’s artistic skills. Tony-O literally standing on his head in the crease anyone? How about those wonderful memories of the Golden Jet circling behind his net before flying up the ice in one of his inimitable rushes. (If I had hair on my neck, it would be standing up right now thinking about that beautiful sight.) Then there are the goal celebrations where 5 grown men gather together for a group hug – remember, man hugs are ok as long as you don’t touch chests! Even “Rats” can be a sight for sore eyes – I miss Dave Bolland. 🙁

Of course the artistic spin-o-rama’s, made famous by another diminutive Hawk who wore #18, were quite pleasing to the eye. Jonathan’s Toew’s goal against the Avalanche his rookie season or his goal against “Lu” in Game Seven of a heartbreaking loss to the Canucks in the 2010/11 playoffs rivaled anything Van Gogh ever painted. Watching a “Red Sea” lining the streets of Chicago for a parade in June was definitely a sight to behold. Witnessing players numbers being retired or just staring at those banners in the rafters, bring back many warm fuzzy moments. I could go on and on – but rest assured Mary Dixon, there is a lot prettier than Patrick Sharp in hockey! (and I still think you know more about hockey than Lin)

I actually watched Game Six at the Fifth Quarter and a lady sitting next to me was wearing Sharp jersey. I jokingly told her that Sharp’s good looks are over exaggerated, (bony jaw, thin lips, Frolik type eyebrows and bad beard to name a few facial flaws), which sent her immediately to her cell-phone. She pulled up the picture of a bare-chested Sharp chillin’ on a boat. While I had no choice but to acknowledge his Adonis like physique, at least I can go to bed at night knowing my body is 100% au natural.

Lindbloom_Sharpie_2014May24Sharpie – Jacked!

Lindbloom_Bloomie_2014May17Bloomie – au natural

Of course, Corey Crawford is also pretty; very pretty. While not possessing the looks of Sharpie, at least he has a personality, ladies. Steve Rosenbloom had an excellent piece on Cor-dawg in a recent Tribune article. Basically he noted that most of the hockey world does not, or steadfastly refuses to, acknowledge Crow by the “E” word.

Rookie Justin Fontaine just may label Corey as “elite” after two absolutely ineffable saves he made when the Wild forward zeroed in on Mr. Big on a breakaway. This was just after Erik Haula, knotted the game at a goal a piece. (This was both Fontaine’s and Haula’s rookie season for the Wild – Katy bar the door – Minnesota is going to be a very good team for a long time to come.)

Rosenbloom pointed out that our Big Dog on the porch has a playoff leading 1.97 GAA and is tied with the Ranger’s Lundquist, (the benchmark of elite goalies), with a .931 SV%. He also noted that Ken Dryden said he would have to make about five huge saves a game when leading the Canadiens to their Stanley Cup Championships. Rosey noted, “Corey made five great saves in the second period alone in Game Six.” Simply put, without Crawford’s brilliance against the Wild and Blues, the Hawks would be bemoaning missed three footers right now. Instead, they are getting ready for Game one of a rematch with the Kings for the Western Conference Finals.

Lindbloom_BigDogFoundation_2014May24Have you hugged your goalie today?

I read a comment on the secondcityhockey web site that questioned Oduya’s gaffe that led to Haula’s goal in Game Six. After watching a replay several times of that excruciatingly painful moment, I was reminded of an observation my friend “Ears” made when we watched a game together recently – “You can’t take a second off in the playoffs.”

When you watch the replay, Oduya glides for a second and that’s all it took. He actually glanced at Hjarmal’s and then you could almost hear him say in his best Scooby Doo impersonation, “Rut row!” Johnny made a Herculean effort to thwart the Finnish rookie, diving in an attempt to knock the puck away. But Haula kept the puck far enough to the left to be able to get off a blistering wrist shot. No doubt, many of Corey’s detractor’s would say he should have snared that missile. (That banging sound is me hitting my head against the wall.) One blogger got me so perturbed I blurted out, “Corey is the best goalie ever!”

One final “hockey is pretty” observation before I wrap up my scrambled thoughts.

Can anyone deny Coach Q’s line configurations are an ongoing work of art (or something)? I still can’t believe Waylon called me insane this week after a post at thecommittedindian! Basically he said of my well meaning post, “The person who wrote this is insane. Wardrums is insane.” LOL! Certainly, no one will ever confuse me with someone who knows what they are talking about when it comes to hockey, however…

Coach Q’s line configurations have been making me a bit nervous lately. He’s certainly is more of an impressionist lately, than a realist. Q just may be the Salvador Dali of NHL coaches when it comes to forming his lines. I believe he started Bickell/Toews/Versteeg in Game Six; I don’t think even Picasso could explain that line. Like many artists, his brilliance may not be appreciated for centuries to come. His artistry does leave many of us scratching our heads on occasion. (Occasion is one of the hardest words to spell in the English language – I have to go to spell check every time I use it.) Hopefully Peter Regin will end up on one of the bottom two lines; actually he might look “pretty” good between Kane and Sharp.

Much like Coach Q’s line configuration’s, there are a lot of question marks as we had into a rematch against the Kings and their elite goalie, Jonathan Quick on Sunday. Will Bickell continue his post season surge? Will the Hawks be committed to not taking one second off? Will Niklas Hjalmarsson continue to make as many saves as Corey? Will Corey continue his miserly ways? (It seems to me that Crawford is still getting better, a perfect poster child for the Avis commercials “We try harder”, eh?) Will Sharpie’s shooting percentage correct itself? Will Chicken Hawk return to the line up anytime soon?

But most importantly, will the Hawks resident Peter Pan ever grow up? I think instead of saying “showtime” after his next highlight reel goal, he should sing “I’ll never grow up, never grow up, not me!” As Napoleon said to Pedro when he was running for class president, “Follow your heart Pedro. That’s what I do.” What a blessing it has been to watch Kaner’s black magic for seven years. One thing I’m totally sure of, if we are to win 8 more games this season, our little wild thing will have a big part in it. As “The Boss” once sang, “Tramps like us, baby we were born to score.”

Finally, we have the answer to the “Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?” question we’ve been singing since preschool; indeed, Kaner took the cookie from the cookie jar!”

Bruce Springsteen – “Growing Up“, Live, acoustic  – YouTube

Other important stuff:

No offense Ranger fans, but if we are fortunate to get buy the Kings, I hope we end up facing the PK Subban led Habs. First, to avenge 1971’s heartbreaking defeat in the old barn. Secondly, to determine once and for all who is the legitimate Norris Trophy winner. Lastly, I have a story I want to tie in about my efforts to learn French in high school – that was not pretty.

For those of you unfamiliar with him, Lin Brehmer has a feature on Monday and Friday morning’s called Lin’s Bin at around 7:15am. I don’t know why, but just like those runners who followed Forest Gump around the country waiting to hear him say something profound, I find myself compelled to listen to Lin’s words of wisdom as he “attempts” to answer listener’s questions about a variety of things. Listening to that description of Kaner’s goal is a perfect example. At any rate, if you see a gray haired man laughing out loud in a 2002 Honda Accord on the highway, I’m not crazy – I’m listening to Lin. It could be argued Lin is crazy though.

While riding at a speed of 60 mph along the tollway on Wednesday, a dove was flying along side of me, 6 feet from my window at the same speed. Is that possible? Or was it a flashback from my Kaner days.

I loved Brandon Saad’s elbow to Ryan Suter after he was viciously crosschecked by the stellar. Wild defenseman, twice. My only regret was he didn’t aim for his head. In my book Waylon, that’s hockey!

Remember when Big Hoss boarded the Predator defenseman when we won the Cup in 2010. There was not near the public outcry that Bollig received for his hit on Ballard. It looks like Coach Q is going to insert him into his fourth line tapestry against the Kings. I’m very conflicted about this.

Was that a Steeger sighting in Game Six!

Be honest hockey fans. When you went to find a hockey game on TV on Thursday night, you started to have a panic attack. How man of you put in Miracle or Slapshot to appease your insatiable thirst for hockey?

Don’t take a second off Hawks, not a damn second.

Rich Lindbloom

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