Monday, December 08, 2008

Cold Steel on Ivy:

Finally a team worth watching at Wrigley

I saw a commercial yesterday for quite literally the coolest thing to ever happen in Wrigley Field—the Chicago Blackhawks will play the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. That’s daytime outdoor Original Six pro hockey in the Ivory Covered Baseball Palace in the Midwest in the winter. Totally fucking cool.

NBC's cool promo for the Winter Classic on New year's Day 2009.

Not only will it be a welcome reprieve from the NYD deluge of overhyped college bowl games, but it’ll be gratifying to see some teams worth watching in one of pro sports’ Houses of the Holies (you know, aside from the White Sox who beat down the Cubs in Interleague play a couple times a year).

In the bigger picture for Blackhawk fans, the Winter Classic may be the beacon of new era in franchise history as the team continues its recovery from the tightfisted downward-spiral ownership of William “Dollar Bill” Wirtz who died last year of cancer.

Already, much-loved Blackhawk greats like Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Phil Espozito are back actively supporting the team after years of quiet boycott under Dollar Bill. In short order, the team’s new first-in-command, Bill’s son Rocky, has dismantled many of his dad’s policies that repelled the Blackhawk faithful—for the first time since the ‘70’s you can see Hawks games on free TV, beloved play-by-play announcer Pat Foley is back in the fold on TV and radio, and they even acknowledge the fan with an annual Blackhawks Fan Convention that was inexplicably verboten under Dollar Bill. The great Wayne Mesmer may even return to belt out the National Anthem over the pandemonium of Hawk fan um...enthusiasm.

The two best NHL games I caught on TV this year were epic battles between the Sharks and the Hawks. On the ice, the Hawks are looking way more promising than squads of the recent past with a mix young players like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp along with veterans on defense like Brian Campbell and Nikolai Khabibulin in net.

Note that the players bleed red--not teal--even in NHLPA '91 for Sega-Genesis.

And though I’ve become a bit of a fair weather Sharks fan given their impressive start this year (unbelievable, really) , I’ll always be a Hawks fan at heart. Original Six old school yada, yada aside, I'll take the red and black unis over teal every time.
Long form classic Pat Foley here:

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