Wounds To Bind
“Tell me why?
I don’t like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don’t like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don’t like Mondays.
I want to shoot
The whole day down. – Bob Geldof
By Rich Lindbloom
The Boon Town Rats song, I Don’t Like Monday’s is the simplified version of how I felt losing to the Kings. For those of you who are more inclined to look at pictures than read 3,000 word rambles, read no further.
For those of you intent on self-flagellation, let’s attempt to analyze what went wrong. Is the Hawks team in decline? Is it time to get rid of everyone but Toews? Do we need to get rid of Coach Q now? Is Brandon Bollig the Antichrist? The dump Seabrook campaign, “while we can still get something for him,” no doubt will pick up steam. Is the vaunted One Goal slogan, a bit too narrow in scope? Were all the “Crawford is a mediocre goalie” pundits right? I could only shake my head last weekend when a 58 year old friend, who still plays full contact hockey, basically stated, “its Raanta time.” The fact he still plays hockey at that age might be a good indication that his opinion should be taken with a grain of salt; obviously, he ain’t right.
The We Five classic, You Were On My Mind, is one of those songs that seem to end way to prematurely. It’s only about 2:20 long, leaving the listener begging for more – much like how Blackhawk fans felt a little after 10pm last Sunday. About the only radio station that will play it anymore is 94.7, and then only once in a blue moon at that. The song is anything but Lite music. Building with intensity, Beverly Biven’s voice emerges from the shadows of this haunting song at crucial moments to take it over the top. It’s the type of song that compels you to attempt to sing along. Somehow, I can recall my two older sister’s and I lip singing the song, while we strummed along on brooms that substituted for guitars in the basement. Again, thank the Lord that there were no I-phones around when I grew up.
I thought about that song when I awoke at 2am after Game Seven’s heartbreaking defeat. The loss definitely “was on my mind.” Stinging feelings not only immediately resurfaced, it seemed they did so with more intensity. As John Buchan noted, “He disliked emotion not because he felt lightly, but because he felt deeply.” I had to take an Alka Seltzer to go back to sleep. (Try it, it works.)
So close, yet so far away. Just like the brevity of We Five’s song, Hawk fans were left clamoring for more. It seemed the season was ending prematurely, compounded by the fact it was against a team that I find increasingly repulsive. (Go Rangers) As I tried to go back to sleep, clearly, “there were wounds to bind.”
The Conference Finals were certainly worthy of the cliche, ‘It’s too bad someone has to lose this game.” Talk about an emotional roller coaster. I began to wonder if our fate would have been any less cruel had we lost in five games – maybe even bowed out against the much improved Wild or the uppity Blues. In my estimation, losing Game Seven of the Conference Finals in overtime leaves you with the crushing weight of so many “what ifs.”
What if Alec Martinez hadn’t flicked a seemingly harmless wrist shot towards the net at 5:47 of the OT, that deflected off the shoulder of Nick Leddy. Unfortunately, there would be no Hollywood ending’s to this hard fought game, Cinderella would never find the missing glass slipper-it was clearly a mean step sister, wicked step mom moment. The fact that the play was set up by Justin Williams, made me want to stab Joey Cora in the eye with a pencil.
As the puck fluttered like a butterfly over Corey Crawford, over 21,000 fans in the United Center temporarily lost their will to live. It was not a fitting ending to a very good series that had an overabundance of wild momentum changes. Tersely put, it was a weird ending.
Dan Bernstein wrote a tremendous article on the “weirdness of hockey” after the painstaking defeat. I treasured his observation :
“Experienced hockey observers will be quick to point out that this is the very nature of the game, one in which ‘fleeting moments keep connecting and disconnecting with a high degree of randomness.’ The best teams do the right things all the time, creating higher likelihoods that they’ll string together a chain of small outcomes that builds into something larger. Put simply, talent plus effort make luck…. It’s when you’re on the wrong side of hockey weirdness, though, that it feels unjust.”
Basically, what Bernstein noted was, “Where the hell does the puck go when it’s blasted into the flash mob of players standing in front of the goalie.” From a Hawks fans perspective, it seemed the puck bounced like a flubberball after it hit Crawford, more than once that ill-fated evening.
A close up of Martinez’s Conference clinching goal
What if Johnny Oduya doesn’t whiff on the prime scoring chance from the slot that sent Carter, Brown and Toffoli on their merry way towards the other end of the rink? (On a side note, is it possible that Tyler Toffoli is the grand child of the banjo player in the movie Deliverance?) What if the linesman noticed Jeff Carter was clearly offside on the King’s first tally?
Talk about a momentum swing. The Hawks go from squandering a prime opportunity, to watching California boy whack another flubber like rebound past Crow. Lost in this questionable goal was a brilliant left pad save by Crow on Dustin Brown’s initial shot. The rebound went to an area that was probably the only place Corey couldn’t make the second save – weird.
John Weideman and Troy Murray also pointed out the Kings were offside again on their fourth goal. While I didn’t see it, reportedly Coach Q was going nuts on the bench on the no call. Instead of a face off, the guilty Gaborik waltzed to the goal line to knock in yet another rebound that seemed to go to a King’s forward like iron to a magnet. Although this does raise the question, what if the Hawks had more Bruno like defensmen kicking ass and taking names in front of our net? Maybe the meatball fans are right, maybe we do need to “Hit Someone.”
Perhaps forgotten in the agony of defeat were a few more brilliant plays by Dr. Showtime. Kaner’s assist on Tazer’s goal, which put the Hawks up 2-0, was worth the price of admission. First off, I thought Kane just deflected the puck towards the net when Seabs launched one towards Quick on the Hawks second goal. On second take, it is obvious he knows where Jonny on the spot is, miraculously getting the puck to him. No weirdness there, just consummate skill!
Secondly, go back and watch the zone entry on that goal and tell me Kane did not deserve two assists on that power play goal. He takes a pass from Keith at our blue line and then proceeds to dipsy-doodle through center ice. Somehow, defying the Laws of Physics, he squeezes by Mike Richards and Dwight King at LA’s blue line. After a tidy little drop pass to Seabrook, he heads to the net to finish one of the Hawks highlight reel of the year goals. It makes one wonder if there are times when Kane sees things happening in slow motion out on the ice.
Of course, heroics like those are lost in the shuffle when the hockey god’s smile upon our evil adversaries. Perhaps one goal we’ll all remember is Sharp’s first of two tallies in Game Seven. The puck definitely acted like a piece of flubber, taking one of the strangest bounces I can recall. In a Hawk fans vernacular though, that was not a lucky goal, it was a well-placed shot!
Much ado was made about Coach Q’s decision to keep Jeremy Morin and Peter Regin in the press box over Handzus and Bollig. What if he had played those two talented speedsters? As it turned out, the Hawks basically were reduced to skating three lines. Recall our fourth line against Boston last year was Frolik/Bolland/Kruger. Handzus/Kruger/Bollig is a pretty huge step down. (On a weird side note, in Game Six against the Bruins last year, the three stars were 1-Lucic, 2-Keith and 3-Seguin. Apparently the sportswriters were still stunned by Bolland’s dagger when they cast their votes.)
Actually, in Game Seven, Darryl Sutter also basically skated only three lines; Clifford (2:52) and Lewis (5:47), watched most of the game from the pine. This was a break from the other games where all the Kings men were skating over 9 -10 min/game. We’ll never know for sure the answer to one of the more pressing “What if” questions in this series. But the armchair coach in me still thinks Morin would have been a better option than Bollig. In the playoffs there seems to me a much greater emphasis on the need for speed, rather than a hard hitting enforcer, eh?
As the saying goes, though, “There’s no use crying over spilt milk.” Of course that will not stop many fans and sportswriters from picking at the decaying carcass.
As we bind our wounds, I’d like to weigh in on one final thought. Is it just me, or is the “One Goal” slogan a little narrow in scope? How did we get to the point where if the Hawks don’t win the Stanley Cup, the season is considered a failure? I can vividly recall sitting in Section 101 in 2006/ 07 when there were only 7,000 to 8,000 fans in the U.C. (Little did we know then we’d end up drafting a kid who scored 145 points for the London Knights at the end of that season!) During the 2006/07 season, you could hear someone sneeze in the 300 section.
Memories of a discussion I had with a friend awhile back about the ‘One Goal/Winning is Everything’ mindset that permeates our society today, came to mind after Game Seven. He smiled and basically said “If that’s the case, we may as well all give up now.” If Hawk fans can’t sit back and relish our fourth appearance in six years in the final four, or admire the effort that got us there, we may as well take up reading Harlequin romance novels.
I recall talking to Chris Block after a Hawks/Kings contest a few years back. The Hawks lost 1-0, and my daughter Taylor was extremely upset that the Hawks, (especially Tazer), did not dent the twine. As we walked to the parking lot that night, I recall telling her what a great game we had just witnessed. There were plenty of scoring chances, the goalies were just outstanding. When I told Chris about her sentiments, he wholeheartedly agreed with me that we had just watched an outstanding effort by both teams. Sometimes we can’t see the forest through the trees, eh?
We should be quite pleased with the results of or red clad warrior’s accomplishments in 2013/14. Although there seemed to be something missing during the playoffs, (a sense of urgency perhaps), we overcame the assiduous efforts of both the Blues and the Wild, before falling to a worthy adversary from LA. Actually, I thought Game Seven was one of our best games in the playoffs. If we ‘deserved’ to win any game, that contest was the one. We outshot the Kings 41/32, won the face off battles 40/36, and blocked 23 shots to LA’s 12. The effort was clearly there.
But as Bernstein so wisely pointed out, the weirdness of hockey ruled the day. One other weird aspect of the western Conference Finals was the number of goals given up by both Quick and Crawford. Yet in my mind, both goalies were outstanding.
Well, the hushed silence that permeated the U. C. after Game Seven will soon be replaced by roars once again. I suspect some familiar faces will be gone when preseason rolls around, replaced by the next wave of youthful exuberance. Before dwelling on what the 2014/15 Chicago Blackhawks will look like, sit back and savor this past season.
RoseLee Deutsch, who fell in love with the Hawks after Earl took her to her first game in the early 50’s, sent me a song from 1927 entitled The Song Is Ended. That song struck a chord within me as pondered the Hawks cruel fate. As we attempt to bind our wounds, I think when you look back over this season, “the melody will linger on.” Frank Sinatra sings a wonder version of this melancholic song, well worth Googling.
There neath’ the light of the moon
We sang a love song that ended too soon
The moon descended
And I found with the break of dawn
You and the song had gone
But the melody lingers on” – Beda Loehner
At least now that it’s all over but the crying, we can start to breathe again. Playoff hockey is not for the weak of heart. After watching this great sport for over 50 years now, so many great memories linger on. The 2013/14 is no exception. Well done, Blackhawks. Well done.
Check out the Go-Go Girls dancing in the background while the group sings this song. I’m not sure they are dancing to the same song. Actually, the song is best experienced while drowning one’s sorrows with a good Cabernet. Of course, if you drink the whole bottle, you may be transformed into thinking you can dance like a Go-Go Girl. Worse yet, you may grab a broom and pretend you’re in the group.
Other important stuff:
My worst nightmare has taken place. Not only did the Kings win the Cup, Justin Williams won the Conn Smythe. I’m getting sick to my stomach.
Reportedly Oduya, Hjalmarsson and Shaw were battling through significant injuries against LA. We’ll never know the extent of the injuries, but rumor had Oduya would not have played against the Rangers. Still want to criticize the Hawks effort?
I took the above picture before the Blues game near the end of the regular season. The lady said, “Is this some kind of prank?” When I stopped them to ask if I could take the photo. This couple would seem to have a fireproof marriage, eh? They even got the physical dimensions down! Hopefully 7/2 will be patrolling our blue line again next season.
The Kings are using the “d” word now. Hopefully their self-declared dynasty will roll through Chicago again next year. I’m thinking the Hawks just might feel they have a score to settle.
Crow, Leddy, keep your heads up!