The Digital Journalism Blog


How the Blackhawks Saved Hockey

By Greg Partyka

 

Three months ago hockey was dead in America.  As rinks were closed due to the lockout – the third in Commissioner Gary Bettman’s 20 year tenure – the NHL looked like a lost cause.  The league was on the verge of losing all the momentum they have gained the past few seasons while fans just turned their heads and looked to the NFL and NBA to get their sports fix.  When the NHL owners and the player’s union finally ended the lockout in early January it seemed to be too little too late.  However, the Chicago Blackhawks disagreed. 

 

After 24 games in a shortened 48-game regular season the Blackhawks record stands at an astonishing 21-0-3.  Thats right, they have gone half of the season without losing in regulation and have only lost a mere three times in overtime.  The 24 straight games to start the season without losing in regulation is an NHL record, and one that may stand for many years to come.  The Blackhawks seem untouchable, and most importantly, people are interested in hockey again.

 

It’s not just the streak itself that has recaptured the attention of hockey fans all over the country, it’s how the Blackhawks have done it.  While superstars such as the ever-serious captain Jonathan Toews and infamous party animal Patrick Kane garner most of the headlines, every member of the Blackhawks has chipped in.  13 players have scored game-winning goals, most recently fourth line enforcer Dan Carcillo in game 24 against the Avalanche.  Goaltender Corey Crawford, who many consider to be the goat in last season’s first round playoff exit, has played lights out, while backup goalie Ray Emery has played even better.  In ten starts Emery has been a brick wall in the net, starting the season with a record of 10-0-0.  Along with Toews and Kane, stars such as Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, and Patrick Sharp are doing their part as well, and young guns like Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, and Marcus Kruger are transforming into prime time players.  Hockey is arguably the ultimate team sport, with every skater getting about equal playing time, and Coach Joel Quenville’s team is clicking like none other has in a long time.  

 

http://www.nhl.com/ice/standings.htm?type=con#&navid=nav-stn-conf

 

To the Blackhawks the streak means nothing unless they win the Stanley Cup this summer, but to the NHL the streak means a whole lot.  They can only thank the franchise for providing the them with the perfect cure to the four month lockout which left the sport in a devastating state that resulted in many fans asking for Gary Bettman’s head.  Although the NHL is still not as big as the NFL or Major League Baseball – and probably never will be – the league is back to national prominence.  The Blackhawks continue to sell out all of their home games but are also aiding in selling out opponent’s rinks as well.  They are so good that everyone needs to see it for themselves. So thank you Chicago Blackhawks for making hockey as fun and compelling as it was before.  

 

Note: This post was written as if it could appear in the section “Melrose Minute” of NHL.com

http://www.nhl.com/ice/blog.htm?id=192

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