What is transpiring in front of us is hard for many to comprehend. As someone who is a Chicago Blackhawks fan, I could not fathom this run to be as incredible as it was, but it has now suddenly seemingly come to a screeching halt. Sad part is, I am ready for it.
Back in 2007, my fandom was waning. It did not seem like the franchise was serious about winning. Though, however, my interest in hockey was beginning to become apathetic until my hometown team, the Washington Capitals, reignited it. That being said, I saw myself following the Capitals more than the Blackhawks during this time. Then the 2009 playoffs happened. I knew the Blackhawks were young and talented, but I never expected them to be as good as they showed in that playoff run where they went as far as the Western Conference Finals facing off against their nemesis the Detroit Red Wings (though they lost). That was the beginning of something great and bigger than I think even the franchise had anticipated.
The next season, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup ending their 49 year Cup drought. The next two seasons ended in the first round, but in 2013, arguably the best squad in the run, the team set NHL records during the regular season and went on an incredible run to win their second Stanley Cup in the past four years. They made the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014 (losing on a fluky overtime goal against the Los Angeles Kings), but then came back in 2015 to win the Stanley Cup for the third time thus nabbing the honor of being a dynasty. The Blackhawks lost a tough seven game series in 2016 to the St. Louis Blues, but where I thought the end was coming to a close was in last year’s playoffs where they got swept by the Nashville Predators. It didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like the team had the same energy or chemistry anymore. While they were awesome to watch in the regular season, it just felt like the end was nigh. Then came this season. When the team got off to a strong start by defeating the defending champions Pittsburgh Penguins 10-1, there was a sense of optimism for this season.
Where we stand now, the Blackhawks will not make the playoffs. While there is still a chance for them get in, there was a recent statistic where it said they are 10 points out of the last playoff spot with 27 games to go (now 26). Essentially, it’s virtually impossible for them to make it. It also hurts that they are in arguably in the strongest division in the sport. It has been a struggle to watch them this season. What hurts them the most is their goalie Corey Crawford being injured as he is one of the best in the league. But they are also both inexperienced and getting old in their core. Is this the end of the dynasty? I think it is and it was quite a ride. If you look upon what the Blackhawks had accomplished, it was remarkable.
It took until 2010 for me to understand the importance of winning in sports as every year I wanted to see them win and would finally understood what it meant for how gut wrenching it was to see them lose. Yes, it is worse for teams that are not used to winning or have disappointed every year as watching the Capitals choke year in and year out is just unbearable, but not seeing the ‘Hawks win sucks as well. It’s different as winning championships becomes contagious and it makes you want to win more and more.
However, with how much the squad has been this year, this shouldn’t be a cause to be sad, it should be a cause of celebration as they have accomplished so much more than imagined. Instead of just being contenders, they actually won multiple Stanley Cups and it never got old. While I think they have some young talent that could help lead this team back to the playoffs like Alex DeBrincat, this dynasty is over.