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Eulogy: Remembering the 2013-14 Chicago Blackhawks

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(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers who hated them the most. Here are Brad Lee and Laura Astorian of St. Louis Game Time.Again, this was not written by us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don't take it so seriously.)

By St. Louis Game Time

The scene: Outside the United Center in downtown Chicago. A temporary stage has been erected next to two statues. One is the Michael Jordan and the other is covered by a red sheet.

Ed Olczyk: Good afternoon everyone. Welcome to today’s ceremony. I’m Eddie Olczyk. It’s a great day to be a Blackhawk fan like me.

As you know it’s been too long that the Hawks have played here at the Madhouse on Madison without having a statue out front. With all apologies to Mr. Air Jordan here, the UC has needed a hockey statue for a long time. Well at least since the Hawks have been good since 2010. But we’ll get to that.

I think it’s fitting we meet here today, a few days after the Blackhawks cemented their legacy as a dynasty by trying hard in the Western Conference Finals. I know we are all a little disappointed by the Hawks failing to bring the Cup back to the Windy City. I know the NHL already engraved our names... I mean their names on the Cup.

But you can’t deny it. This team is a dynasty. Even though they fell just short of everyone’s expectations. To that, I say good effort.

Let’s recap this dynasty-clinching season.

First, the Hawks decided to rest the two cogs of the machine, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, down the stretch. They captured fifth overall in the conference with 107 points. Which put them right where they wanted to be — playing the St. Louis Blues in the first round. Brent Seabrook was a star in that series, eliminating the Blues’ captain David Backes with his physical play. It was almost as if Backes wasn’t even on the ice for part of that series. And Seabrook fit in so well, it was like he wasn’t even out there either.

Speaking of the Blues, we owe them a couple of things. First they decided to draft Erik Johnson with the first overall selection in 2006. Of course we drafted our captain third overall that year. He’d be up here today, but I saw on the Twitters that he’s arguing with a meter maid about a ticket. Apparently he feels like he didn’t do anything wrong. What’s new, am I right?!

The next year at the draft in 2007, the Blues offered three first-round picks for our first pick, the No. 1 overall in the draft. Apparently they wanted this kid from Buffalo named Patrick Kane. I don’t know if Kaner becomes a Blackhawk if we don’t get that reassurance he was the best player in the draft. I mean we only had like one part-time scout at the time. And I think he was watching games on VHS tapes. You know, budget constraints. Because we had trouble selling tickets. Not that you folks here would know about that.

And Patrick Kane, if you weren’t face down in a gutter somewhere in Madison, I know you’d be here smiling. Remember, penicillin is your friend, my friend. 

Only Brandon Bollig showed up today. Hey Brandon! You played a couple of important minutes in the playoffs for the Hawks. Emphasis on a couple. But you’re a hockey player. When you probably should have been a firefighter. I kid. But the fire department recruiter is right over there…

I wish Marian Hossa was here. So I could dry his tears. Hydrate, buddy. Hydrate. But I’m glad Nick Leddy isn’t here. He should get a playoff share from the Kings. And I was going to say something nice about Niklas Hjalmarsson, but I’m just not that smart. I’ll give a new Hawks hat to anyone who can spell his name. I’ll spot you the J, A, L, M, A, R, an S, another S, O and N.

Let’s look at how this dynasty was built. Duncan Keith was a second round draft pick in 2002. Someday he might live up to that. Brent Seabrook was a first-rounder and Corey Crawford a second-rounder in 2003. Apparently the scout watching tape thought Bryan Bickell was worth a second round pick in 2004. You heard me talk about Kane and Toews. That’s six guys in five years drafted in the first or second round who are important players on this dynasty. Well, Bryan, don’t blush. What that tells me is that the Hawks have made good decisions.

Shockingly even you, Corey Crawford, have really worked out. You might even take the title away from Chris Osgood as Most Average Goaltender To Ever Win the Cup.

This team has been great, especially with the high draft picks they earned from being horrible on the ice. The draft picks were so good because the team was so bad. But none of you great fans care about those days because almost none of you were here.

Out in the crowd today, there are a couple of retired players I’d like to recognize. I see Dennis Savard out there. Old No. 18. Say hello Dennie.

The crowd politely claps. Four old guys stand up and cheer louder than the rest. Several fans scratch their heads and shrug.

Eddie O: Of course he might have played a few games before many of you were born. How about Tony Amonte?!

Even fewer people applaud.

Eddie O: It was a shame both of those icons in the Blackhawks jersey, which is totally not racist I might add, couldn’t finish their careers here because they wanted a little raise. But unfortunately they left like many other thousands of Illinois residents. Can you believe we lead the nation in number of people moving away? And since Wayne Gretzky and Jeremy Roenick said we are a dynasty, who’s going to argue with those guys? It must be true.

It’s time to hear from our featured speaker. You know him as the owner who has solidified this franchise. I call him the boss because he signs the checks, Rocky Wirtz.

Rocky Wirtz: Thanks Eddie. I know you and I are disappointed the New York Rangers aren’t here tonight to start the Stanley Cup Final. But I’m glad you came out today to celebrate the dynasty that is the Chicago Blackhawks. What are you going to do instead, go watch the Cubs play? Ha!

Applause break. There is no applause.

Rocky: It’s great to look out and see so many young faces who embraced this team after it started winning. Whenever I get around this many Chicagoans, I can only smell sausage and Old Style. Because that’s what we all smell like. But it smells like Chicago to me. That and the sewer we call a river that runs through the city.

What a great run. Winning our first Cup in nearly five decades in 2009 was such a great ride. Winning just 12 months ago was just as exhilarating. And now this, such a historic run to the Conference Finals. Almost making it all the way. You look at that list of accomplishments and you have to say our Hawks can be put on a short list. A list that includes the Red Wings, the Oilers, the Islanders and the Canadiens. These Hawks are among the greatest ever. Even though they won fewer games and played an injury-riddled team and the Wild. But let’s not get caught up in any details. It’s a dynasty!

By the way, go online to our site and see all the amazing dynasty T-shirts and mugs we have for sale.

And with so many dynasties in this town. The Bulls. The Bears. The Bulls. A lot of baseball games have been played in this town. Maybe we should start calling this Dynasty Town. Patent pending.

I’m sure you’re curious what’s under the sheet. We decided to immortalize for forever…or as long as we play here before holding the city hostage for a new stadium by threatening to play in the suburbs, the linchpin in what I think was the turning point for the Hawks, the person who is truly responsible for this dynasty you enjoy today. Please unveil the masterpiece.

The sweet notes of the worst song in the universe, Chelsea Dagger, start playing.

Under the giant red sheet is a statue of an old man frowning.

He’s sitting on a pile of money.

And he’s not sharing it.

Rocky: My dad, William Wirtz. Better known as Bill Wirtz.

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Wirtz

Wirtz

A statue of Bill Wirtz is unveiled, depicting the former Blackhawks owner clutching a Stanley Cup he never won and with a blacked out television set next to it.

Fans are shocked. They make no noise.

Rocky: As a fellow fan like you people, we all know my dad is responsible for where the Hawks are today. He pushed popular players away.

He wouldn’t spend money on free agents. He held on to the old Chicago Stadium too long, milking every dollar he could from it. He wouldn’t let home games be televised. He alienated fans. He made the Hawks somehow less popular than the White Sox. But no one ever proved he took that baby’s candy.

His treatment of the team led to the Hawks missing the playoffs eight of nine years before he died. Without my dad, we don’t cheer on Toews and Kane today.

So my fellow Blackhawks fans, whenever you walk through these doors and cheer on the Hawks, you’ll walk by an image of my father and remember him. Whenever you fondly remember the last two Cup titles, know he was the person most responsible. He made this team crappy for so long, it had to get better. In my heart, I know he was on the ice with us, hoisting the Cup himself.

As long as he didn’t go to hell. Love you, Dad. Wherever you are.

 

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