Monday, December 14, 2009

Hockey

Drifted away from my Blackhawks back in the 70s when they let Bobby Hull leave to play in the WHL. I kept up on them from time to time when they had decent teams, like the year they played the Penguins for the Cup, but for the most part hockey became an afterthought for the last 30 years.

Well folks let me tell you, that entire this town has gone hockey crazy again. It ain't just me. This is just like back in the day, and again raises the question of which team rules the city. Everyone says it's a Bears town but you wouldn't know that this year. The management team of Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough have worked an absolute miracle practically overnight, and the Hawks are the hot topic of sports talk again. (It helps that the Bears are this sucky, but still....)

Prior to his death, Bill Wirtz was seen as probably the worst sports franchise owner in this town since Charles "Old Roman" Comiskey. Everyone hated the guy. He wouldn't put the games on TV because he was afraid it would drive down attendance at the Stadium. I'm not kidding. Marketing not his strong suit.The Hawks were losing fans in droves, and seemed on the brink of collapse. Not to sound cold hearted or anything, but it was a great day in Chicago sports when Bill Wirtz died.

Once he shed his mortal coil, his son took over and Rocky has done the unthinkable in the span of just over two years. The Hawks added a couple of really exciting young players in Jonathan Toews and Patrick "Two Dimes" Kane, and filled the rest of the lineup with really talented players. They're sparing no expense either, as the long term, big buck contract of Marian Hossa can attest.

The team also took steps to bring back some old timers like Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, and Tony Esposito to serve as franchise ambassadors. Those are guys who had been cast off like trash by the old man, so it was great to see the old fences being mended.

The team is exciting, and the Madhouse on Madison is rocking again. Sellouts for every game. AND, the games are all broadcast on TV.

Before he died, as part of his plan to alienate every hockey fan in this city, old man Wirtz fired a guy who is undoubtedly the best play-by-play man in all of hockey, the great Pat Foley. One of the first things Rocky and John McD did was put Foley back in the booth, and as a result I have to admit I never miss a game any more. Foley and his partner Eddie Olczyk do a fantastic job.

But, I will say that if the Hawks felt like they wanted to make it a 3 man booth, I would love to see them steal Randy Moller away from the Panthers. This guy would fit here in Chicago perfectly.

Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Exhibit C

I rest my case. We gotta get this guy.


(Oh and, it doesn't hurt that my Blackhawks have the best uniform in the history of pro sports.)



6 comments:

Keifus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keifus said...

[Try again.]

Meh. I'm sure I've whined about it, but I lost my taste for the sport when my team headed to the great hockey town of Raleigh, SC. The fact that my wife at the time told me "no late night games for you" (new baby; she had something of a point) kind of accentuated the finality.

Still think it's a great game though, and catch minor league play once in a great while. And now that she's letting me play in the beer leagues again, maybe I should shop around for a pro team to follow. It'd be a tough sell, and I have no idea where to start--I don't think I'll ever get myself to root for the Bruins, or for a New York team.

Schmutzie said...

I'd forgotten how much fun hockey is Keifus. Damn it moves fast.

Raleigh. (smirk) Yeah, a real hockey hotbed.

Kids come first no doubt, so she was right in insisting you get regular sleep. But those girls are growing up dammit! Time for you to become a Blackhawks fan.

Keifus said...

Well, to be fair Hartford was a pretty small market, but (a) it is a place where there is actually snow, and (b) we had our drunken diehards, dammit. The team owners really got douchey with respect to the fans (and the talent) by the end. Seemed like one of those sick organizations.

Carolina did go on to win a Stanley cup a few years later. The fuckers.

Chicago? I've never even been there.

Schmutzie said...

You're kidding me.

You must visit Chicago Keifus, Do it in the spring or summer, and bring the family.

Join the ever-growing list of people who walk away thinking "Why have I never been here before?"

It's got everything man. Museums, beaches, restaurants, theater, the greatest skyline you ever saw, and ...the Blackhawks.

Seriously my friend, promise me you'll stop by and check it out sometime. I could go on and on ....wait, I guess I already do that, don't I?

Keifus said...

I have walked through that long neon tunnel in O'Hare a couple times. You make a good case for staying longer.