Puck Daddy - NHL

There are still some timeless honors in sports pop culture. The Wheaties box. Hosting "Saturday Night Live." And, of course, making the cover of Sports Illustrated for some incredible or dubious achievement.

SI has had varying degrees of success in hockey coverage through the decades, with some masterful writers (Michael Farber, naturally), some less-than-masterful (uh-huh) and coverage in the print edition that shrunk over the years.

But when history was made, Sports Illustrated usually honored it with a cover: Witness Mark Messier getting his own cover, the Rangers getting a special issue and the famous "NHL hot, NBA not" cover in 1994 after the New York Rangers snapped their 54-year drought.

The Chicago Blackhawks' drought wasn't that dire, but their winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961 completed the resurgence of an Original Six franchise in Chicago, as 2 million people would have agreed last Friday.

But according to the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, it wasn't as monumental as a rookie pitcher for the Washington Nationals living up to the hype.

Was Stephen Strasburg a bigger story than the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup?

Sadly for puckheads, yes. In fact, after his debut, Strasburg was even the talk of the press corps at Wachovia Center before Game 6 of the finals.

The Blackhawks' win was the rebirth of hockey in Chicago; Strasburg may mark the first time the Nationals have been relevant, and his performances may signal the birth of baseball's next superstar pitcher.

Jimmy Traina of SI told us that the Blackhawks will receive a local cover celebrating their Cup win.

Looking back at the Stanley Cup champs since the lockout, as least SI has slowly come around to catering to local hockey markets again.

Coming up, a look back at how SI has covered other recent Cup champs on the cover. 

2009: Honestly, why should Sidney Crosby's(notes) first Stanley Cup overshadow Kobe's moment? Please note there was an alternative cover for some markets and a commemorative issue.

2008: Yep, Kobe'd again. But SI had a pretty cover for Detroit and its commemorative issue.

2007: The winning of the ultimate prize in professional hockey is summarized on the cover with the words "Quack, Quack." No alt-cover, no commemorative issue. But hey, the Hansons got some love a few weeks later.

2006: Carolina wins the Cup, gets a mention on the cover. No alt-cover, no commemorative issue. But in fairness, Steve Yzerman got a hell of an honor with his own special issue later that summer.

2004: Last year before the lockout, and an interesting one. The Tampa Bay Lightning played second fiddle to Ken Griffey, Jr. and Ronald Reagan (!), but Jarome Iginla(notes) was featured a few weeks earlier as a player who will "make you love the NHL." Geez, makes us sound so pushy.

2003: Let's give credit where it's due — Sports Illustrated had an incredible underwater cover that they decided to muck-up with a banner for the New Jersey Devils. For that, we're grateful.

2002: Not only do the Red Wings rule, but they received a commemorative issue ... on Aug. 27, which was weird.

2001: Like we said at the top, SI does the big moments in hockey well. And they didn't get any bigger in 2001 than Ray Bourque's first Stanley Cup. The story so nice they covered it twice.

1961: Finally, in case you were wondering how far hockey's come in the eyes of SI and the U.S. sports media, here's the cover of the magazine in the issue immediately following the Blackhawks' Cup win in 1961:

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