While reading Second City Hockey's season preview on the Bruins, I noticed Stanley Cup of Chowder's own Sarah Connors lack of understanding of the absence of hatred for the Chicago Blackhawks by Boston fans.
After defeating them and directly denying them the Cup, one would think the hatred would be elementary, but it never developed. I'm here to fix that and explain to you why you should be hating the Blackhawks.
In 2004, ESPN named the Chicago Blackhawks The Worst Sports Franchise. Think about that for a second - the worst franchise...in SPORTS. There are some bad teams out there; there are some bad teams in the NHL. None, though, were as bad as Chicago. That's almost as impressive as it is embarrassing.
Now, anyone who's paid attention to hockey is very much aware that the 2013 Blackhawks wouldn't come close to claiming that spot if the list was revisited. That's all well and good, but I have a memory that goes back further than the past 15 minutes and people don't forget.
Now let's take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the
highlights lowlights that brought the Blackhawks to the bottom of sports.
- The Blackhawks first president (and owner from '44 to '54), Bill Tobin, operates as a puppet of the Red Wings. All trades between the two are suspiciously one-sided.
- The Blackhawks go 14-25-9 (37 Points) in the 1937-1938 season, good for sixth out of the eight teams in the NHL that year. By some miraculous twist of fate, the team went on to win the Cup that season, becoming the worst team to ever hoist the trophy in the process. Even in winning the Blackhawks are losers.
- "Dollar Bill" Wirtz takes over as owner after Tobin's departure and he's very bad. In 2002, he was named the 3rd greediest owner in sports (meanwhile, Jeremy Jacobs was 7th so Wirtz is on another level.
His nickname, as you might surmise, was earned through very stingy business practice that included not broadcasting home games "out of respect for season ticket holders." Wirtz's unwillingness to pay players led to many of the biggest stars in Blackhawks' history to go elsewhere and directly caused a near 50 year Cup drought. Don't worry, he kept ticket prices at some of the highest levels in the league despite the team's performance.
- In 1957, future hall of famer and trophy namesake Ted Lindsay is traded from Detroit to Chicago. The trade was, in actuality, punishment for Lindsay's meddling in player rights which led to the creation of the NHLPA.
- 1957 also saw the debut of Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull. On the ice, he was one of, if not the, best to ever skate for the team. Off the ice, he was a monster:
Hull's second wife, Joanne, whom he wed in 1960 and divorced in 1980, told an ESPN documentary in 2002 that she "took a real beating" at his hands. She described an incident during which Hull "threw me in the room, and just proceeded to knock the heck out of me. He took my shoe - with a steel heel - and proceeded to hit me in the head. I was covered with blood. And I can remember him holding me over the balcony, and I thought this is the end, I'm going."
She filed to end the marriage in 1970 after several more incidents, but they reconciled until Hull threatened her with a loaded shotgun in 1978. Their daughter, Michelle, also described his pattern of behavior to "Sports Century," and she now works as an attorney specializing in domestic violence.
He remarried in 1984, but the incidents of physical abuse continued for new wife Deborah. Hull was arrested in the parking lot of their Willowbrook condominium in 1986 during a violent domestic altercation, and was eventually convicted for taking a swing at an intervening police officer. Willowbrook Police Chief Steven List said "there was evidence he had struck his wife in the face. She had some contusions, some swelling."
He also has some out-there political views that would make even Tim Thomas uncomfortable:
"Hitler, for example, had some good ideas. He just went a little bit too far," the Hall of Fame player told the English-language Moscow Times.
AND YET Bobby Hull continues to serve as an official team ambassador. His statue also stands outside the United Center. Worst person to have a statue at a sporting venue? Worst person to have a statue at a sporting venue, indeed.
- In 1967 the Blackhawks sent Fred Stanfield, Ken Hodge and Tony Esposito's older brother in exchange for Pit Martin, Jack Norris and Gilles Marotte. Suckers.
- The Blackhawks end the "Original Six" era as the fifth best team. Any reservation by hockey media to use the term Original Six is probably a product of how bad Chicago and New York were, hardly anything to be celebrated.
- Late in the 2nd period of game 7 of the 1971 Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks were up 2-0 on the Montreal Canadiens. What a collapse.
- Thanks to strong ties with Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz, Alan Eagleson moves his client, Bobby Orr, to Chicago. Bruins GM Harry Sinden accused the team of tampering but it was never proven. After 26 games, Orr retired leaving lots of money on the table. That is of course, in addition to the fact that Orr never cashed a game check from the Blackhawks out of principle (because they're awful). Great man.
- Some gentlemanly play in the 1984 Norris Division Semi Finals
- In 1986, the team realized the name is spelled Blackhawks and not Black Hawks as they were oft to use. Imagine that...60 years after the team was founded, they figured out how to spell it. Crack squad.
- Recent Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios helped bring the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Final in '92. During the 1st Bettman lockout (1BL) of '94 he offered these thoughts:
If I was Gary Bettman I'd be worried about my family or Gary Bettman's family I'd be worried about my well-being now. He's going to affect a lot of people you know and some crazed fan or you know, a player you know they might take it into their own hands and figure they'd get him out of the way and things might get settled. You hate to see something like that happen but he took the job.
Not The Worst, but also not good. Now when you take those words and combine it with what he had to say after the end of 2BL, you realize he's a bad human being.
- Cool stuff from Chicago management:
In 1992, the Blackhawks worked out a trade package with the Nordiques for Eric Lindros. Blackhawks would... http://t.co/m6zH3Vs0uZ— Jen (@NHLhistorygirl) September 13, 2013
- Jeremy Roenick, now part of the NBC Sports broadcast crew, was once a Chicago Blackhawk. I think he makes it pretty clear here:
What a crybaby.
And let's not forget his great takes when Ilya Kovalchuck retired from the NHL:
Uwill all see now why I have talked negatively about kovalchuk !!! He doesn't want to play for the devils and he'll end up in the KHL!!!— Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) July 11, 2013
Kovalchuk is as selfish as they come!!!! I'm appalled. I feel bad for all u devils fans. U deserve better than that!!— Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) July 11, 2013
I am shocked that kovalchuk would do this to the devils and their fan base!!! Devils lose so much w this decision it's scary!!! Selfish !!!!— Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) July 11, 2013
I'm so irate right now. I feel bad for Lou lamoriello. Gave a 100 million dollar contract to a player who has no care for the NHL!— Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) July 11, 2013
Hey Ilya hope u live comfortably in Russia w the money u made from the 23 million u stole from the devils Again I'm right in my analysis— Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) July 11, 2013
Great stuff, JR.
By now I'm sure someone would like to point out that things are different now. Ever since Toews and Kane showed up, things are better - and they certainly are.
But when it comes to one-two punches in the NHL, these guys are Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dumb.
Jonathan Toews is a boring individual and a poor man's Patrice Bergeron (how many games has Toews played with a punctured lung???). Just look how excited he is to model his country's colors.
He did, however, show some personality during the playoffs this year. By that I mean he took dumb penalties (including three straight in game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinal helping to put his team down 3-1) and whined about them. The C on his chest obviously stands for crybaby. Good captain.
And of course, there's Patrick Kane. Kane is the embodiment of every hockey bro you ever went to school with; guys who make sauce, dusty, celly and other hockey-talk part of their everyday lexicon. There's nothing wrong with that aside from being juvenile and annoying, of course.
Speaking of juvenile, do NOT short change Patrick Kane.
Despite their (obvious) flaws, it's hard to argue with the tandem's success. Two Cups in four years is impressive. The celebration, though, was not.
The Blackhawks and their fans have done a phenomenal job embarrassing themselves this summer. Two dozen arrests after game 6; Cup celebrations with Jim Belushi, Justin Bieber and Fall Out Boy (although, they gained some cool points when Chara graciously helped Hossa out by taking a photo with him); selling melted ice from the arena. These are real things from "the franchise that brought hockey back."
Speaking of embarrassments, how about those fans? Despite being a market that's had professional hockey since '26 and being in a state that's seeing substantial growth in participation in the youth ranks, these fans don't know much about hockey. Here are some of the questions from a 2010 Chicago Tribune Q&A aimed at educating fans for the Cup Final:
Q. What does a fan do when they score?
Q. Is it really a cup?
Q. Is [the Stanley Cup] really a big deal?
I understand wanting to inform new fans, but holy cow.
And then there's the affinity in chanting "Detroit sucks" regardless of the opponent. The chant, which originated out of jealousy of their rival's success (not unlike "Yankees suck"), is no longer relevant. Looking forward to when Blackhawks fans realize this.
Can we talk about the goal song for a second? When the Blackhawks score at home, "Chelsea Dagger" by the Fratellis plays and everybody sings along, it's one of the better goal songs in the league. That's assuming you're cool with the fact that it was heavily used in a Heineken ad campaign. For those of you who are unaware, Heineken is basically the European equivalent of Bud Light. Who does the music for Bud Light? Pitbull. Basically, the Blackhawks are using Euro-Pitbull as their goal song. Think about it.
As big of a mistake as the goal song is (and hopefully someone figures it out), not taking full advantage of Joey the Junior Reporter is the worst of all-time. I love Joey and you should too, best hockey reporter today but the Blackhawks fail to realize this because they're foolish. Shouts out to Joey:
Honestly, though, things are going really well for the Blackhawks. They've got a bright future with prospects like Brandon Saad (who looks like a turtle) and Kevin Hayes, who was suspended last year by Boston College because of #poopgate, according to reports.
That bright future may come with a different team name in the next five years, though. Obviously hatred of the Blackhawks has to begin with their logo, which is inarguably racist. As long as the team continues to trot out those uniforms - no matter how aesthetically pleasing they may be - they are reprehensible.
CBS Chicago's Tim Baffoe positions the issue quite well in this piece, particularly here:
Why don't more people care, including me? I'm not really bothered by the Indian head. I'm so used to it and associating with what so many consider the best uniform in sports that I've never thought to question it. But I understand why Native Americans would have a problem with it. Imagine instead if a team used a profile of an African American, Asian, or Hispanic man. It wouldn't stand for a second. But in this case using one of a minority is fine to most people.
Part of it is most people being fine with things that represent a culture they aren't a part of. Let's be frank-most hockey fans are white. White people haven't had to suffer oppression in this country (no, don't go searching for examples otherwise, white people, and therefore don't bring your bad "What about the Fighting Irish or Celtics?" arguments to the table), so I understand why it would be hard to empathize with those who find a "harmless" vision of a Native American problematic or offensive.
Members of a racial minority see it as a small part of a greater problem, though. While you and I might find it harmless, traditional, "what it's always been," actual Native Americans see it another way.
Even Damien Cox sees the need to change things:
Hockey fans, of course, being overwhelmingly male and white, hate these kinds of discussions. Political correctness, they howl, just like the debate over putting women in the Hall of Fame.
And I guess if all that wasn't enough to get you to hate the 'Hawks, watch this a few times and see where you're at: