(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 fans who hated them the most. Here are the good folks at the Detroit Red Wings blog The Production Line, fondly recalling the 2011-12 Chicago Blackhawks. Again, this was not written by us ... OK, by all of us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don't take it so seriously.)
Written by The Production Line
(Chris Hollis, Michael Petrella, and Rob Discher. Illustrations by Stevie Roxelle.)
As we gather here today to mourn the passing of the 2011-2012 Chicago Blackhawks, allow us to first turn on this looped recording of the Star Spangled Banner so that all the Chicago fans reading this have to put down their rhinestone-encased iPhones for just a minute to stand and applaud, as we, Detroit fans, roast their beloved Blackhawks.
It's so good to see so many familiar faces in this room today, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention a few of those who couldn't be with us. Tomas Kopecky, Kris Versteeg, Jack Skille, Brian Campbell and Brian Campbell's contract all send their deepest sympathies, as they gear up to try and win Game 7 and get to the second round -- something the Blackhawks haven't done in two years.
So too does John Madden, this time with his shirt off on a beach instead of in a limo with some bimbos and Patrick Kane.
Dale Tallon wishes he could be here as well — we think. We reached out to Brother Tallon yesterday to see if he was available and the only reply we got was a stack of qualifying offers on our fax machine.
Is this thing broken? Did Dale just fax us a shot of his Johnson? Hard to tell on this machine lately. Toner looks like it's low.
At any rate, this isn't about the folks who couldn't be here. No, this is a time to reflect on the efforts of those laid out in front of us — literally, in Marian Hossa's case — and to recount another lost season for the Windy City.
And as we dive into this discussion, let us just level set for a minute. Before anyone starts with the "how was it writing this from the golf course?" thread, let us just say, we get it. We lost. In the first round. To the Predators. We had a marvelous run this year, shattering the home wins record and then sputtering worse than a John Denver plane over the Rockies.
Save your keystrokes, hearty Hawks fans — both of you. No not you. Yeah, you, in the back, with the brand new Campbell jersey you got on closeout. Smart purchase. Bit tight for our tastes, and we probably would have kept the sleeves attached. Actually, we take that back. No we wouldn't. Suns out, guns out, right? Summertime hockey. We digress…
We concede the point that you won a second playoff game and we didn't, and this entitles us to a certain rhetorical tea-bagging. Even if it was against the "Pacific Division Champ" that everyone this side of sanity was hoping to play in the first round. Even if you got into that series having narrowly beat out Columbus for "second to last" in the division.
As we look at the season that was, or wasn't, let's start on a positive note. Four straight years in the playoffs? That's pretty amazing, Chicago. Not "two chicks at the same time" amazing or "two decades worth of playoffs amazing" but more "the bartender forgot to charge me for that fourth appletini" kinda sweet.
At least slightly more than 30% of the United Center is now aware that Chicago had a hockey team prior to 2007. That's a massive accomplishment for a city rumored to be canning the team in favor of a Disney on Ice marathon at the Madhouse. Onward to greatness!
Seriously though, we're stoked you're still around and on the verge of consistent relevancy. Being from Detroit, it was only two years ago that there was plenty of hope and anticipation that the lowly little brothers on the lago (that's you) would finally rise to the challenge and be the rival we'd longed for ever since Colorado fell of the cliff.
The moment Jonathan Toews lifted that Stanley Cup off the table, the renewed rivalry was sealed, destined to be a monumental showcase of talent between two regional powerhouses that would have every eye in the Midwest glued to a TV 15 times a year as divisional rivals. It was bliss. It was perfect.
Then Stan Bowman happened, validating that old chestnut that just as not every Italian-made 4-wheeler is a Ferrari, not every Bowman can be a Scotty.
Seriously, raise your hand if you love the job Bowman is doing right now.
It's taken him two years, but he's done everything in his power to erase the Blackhawks championship team, save for taking down the banner in the United Center. Meanwhile, down in Florida, Dale Tallon has scooped up the jettisoned pieces of the championship squad from two years ago, and flipped the Panthers into a division champion and potential second round playoff squad.
But look on the bright side Hawks fans: At least Bowman's been successful in keeping Chelsea Dagger around.
And really, who could have seen this coming, this meteoric rise to greatness and highly enjoyable crash back to relevancy and blacked out televised games? Where were the red flags? Was it the flirtation with Marty Turco as goalie of the future? Was it the Hossa contract? Hard to tell.
It's not all bad though: As long as Stan successfully lets Cristobal Huet's contract run out this summer, he'll likely get to keep his job for another year.
Speaking of which, bang up job re-upping Ray Emery before he gets to the open market. That could have been embarrassing, getting into a bidding war with… oh, I dunno… a Johnny's IceHouse beer league team. Frankly, we're insulted we didn't get the call. Not even a sniff? An exploratory discussion for our services before you landed on Emery? Was our phone turned off that day? Was it something we did? Was it something we said? Boo Mike Smith all you like (not that he can hear you now), but that's what it looks like when a goaltender keeps the puck out of the net.
Do you think Eddie Olczyk will take any solace in the fact that his Winnipeg Jets finally won a series… even if it's at the expense of his beloved Chicago Blackhawks?
Once upon a time, Pierre McGuire was the worst part about listening to a nationally televised game… but he's been surpassed by the horribly distracting slurping noises that Eddie O makes whenever someone brings up a Kane or Toews or Sharp.
Speaking of Sharp, I guess he's going to have to wait until a Fourth of July family picnic to spear someone in the balls now.
And Joel Quenneville will have to jump around like a jackass after winning a game of horseshoes instead of acting like he's never been there before for an overtime victory. Anyone else catch that reaction when the Hawks netted the game-winner? Looked like someone threw on The Fratellis at a lame-ass Wrigleyville party.
Coach Q said that the turning point of the series was when Raffi Torres destroyed Marian Hossa. Fair point, but it's worth pointing out that if the "turning point" is losing a guy who was tearing up the box score at a exactly zero points per game, perhaps there are larger issues afoot.
We absolutely wish Hossa well, but speaking as Red Wings fans, we're shocked — SHOCKED, I SAY — that he was a no-show in the playoffs prior to that hit. So unlike him to disappear in any game that matters even a little bit.
To be clear though, that hit was absolutely disgusting and despicable. There's no defending it (and, to be clear, I'm sure we hate the Coyotes more than you do). Your outrage was justified and we fully support your call for a more gentle, sportsmanlike league patterned after such luminary class acts as Andrew Shaw (Game Misconduct/3-Game Suspension, Game 2), Brandon Bollig (Misconduct, Game 3), Niklas Hjalmarsson (Misconduct, Game 3), Jimmy Hayes (Game Misconduct, Game 6), Patrick Kane (Misconduct, Game 6), and notable all-around great guy Dan Carcillo.
• • •
And so we close the book on another season of Blackhawks hockey, dear friends. Let us not be sad, however, as the real fun is just beginning. Sure, they may not be on the ice anymore, but between Patrick Sharp's photo shoots, Patrick Kane's sauced-up antics and Stan Bowman inevitably signing a gaggle of washed-up third liners, our pals in the Windy City won't leave us wanting this summer.
We do ask that you all get home safely tonight, which also includes the cab driver who takes you to your final destination, right Kaner? For those looking to hang on to the past just a little bit longer, we encourage you to head to the dock for a special night of drinking and entertainment on Dustin Byfuglien's boat.