Blackhawks must avoid ESPN The Mag hex, summer of doom

According to its own archives, ESPN The Magazine has featured hockey on its cover 12 times since 1998, with Sidney Crosby(notes) and Eric Lindros(notes) appearing twice each.

If you're one of those folks that believes an image on the cover of a magazine (or video game) can inflict some sort of voodoo curse on an athlete or team, you might be interested to know that only one of the 12 cover subjects went on to win the Stanley Cup during the issue's respective season: The Detroit Red Wings in 2002, when Mitch Albom penned what we're sure is a probing investigative piece called "Why The Wings Are the Best Team Ever." (Seriously. That was the title on the cover.)

With that in mind, say hello to cover boys the Chicago Blackhawks.

Haven't read the issue -- which appears to point to a Blackhawks/Bruins final and has stat egghead analysis from Puck Prospectus, which is cool -- but we did read the cover story called "Winded City?" by Lindsay Berra. Because question marks always make us extra curious. A few thoughts:

• We already goofed on it in the Puck Headlines, but seriously: Jonathan Toews(notes) is seeing into our souls. What intensity! Dude makes Tommy Lee Jones seem like Toby Flenderson from "The Office" by comparison.

• The article is a very solid blow-by-blow of the tumultuous summer for the franchise: Dale Tallon's "promotion," Marian Hossa's(notes) contract, the qualifying offer debacle, Patrick Kane's(notes) arrest. (Nothing on ex-Hawk Martin Havlat's(notes) Twitter bombs, however.) There aren't a ton of original quotes in the narrative, but we know who Berra didn't speak to: Blackhawks President John McDonough, who refused comment.

His absence ends up being more damning than anything written about this team in the magazine.

• Finally, the aforementioned "doom" in the headline for Chicago, courtesy of this passage:

The Blackhawks' cap situation is dire, no doubt. Maybe it's completely Pollyanna to think this, but "nearly impossible?" Really?

They're all restricted free agents, and Phil Kessel's(notes) situation should tell you how often an offer sheet is tendered in this League. It's going to take some mountain-moving salary-wise, but negotiations will be ongoing with the trio and there's a chance two of them could be signed before Summer 2010 even hits.

Keeping three of them? Really, really tough. Keeping two of them? We'd file that under "likely," wouldn't you?

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