By Doug Halberstadt
After sweeping the San Jose Sharks 4-0 in the Western Conference finals on Sunday (May 23) the Chicago Blackhawks will square off against the winner of the Eastern Conference, either Montreal or Philadelphia, for a chance to take home the oldest sports trophy in North America. The winners get their names forever engraved on Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The last time the Blackhawks made it to the Stanley Cup finals was in 1992. The Pittsburgh Penguins swept the Hawks four games to none that year. Ironically, many of the current Chicago players weren’t even old enough to get to an ice rink on their own. In fact, Patrick Kane, one of the team’s superstars, was only three years old in 1992.
As if those statistics weren’t alarming enough, the last time the Blackhawks actually won the cup was 49 years ago. They defeated the Detroit Red Wings four games to two in 1961. Their coach was Rudy Pilous, and Ab McDonald scored the winning goal. John F. Kennedy was President of the United States.
Even the Blackhawks could not believe they swept top-seeded San Jose. “Not for a million years,” said Hawk forward and oldest member on the team, 37-year-old John Madden. “Never planned on it. You look at that room … Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle, Rob Blake, (Evgeni) Nabokov … all of us have so much respect for the Sharks, and that hasn’t changed just because we somehow found a way to win four in a row against them. We all know this series could have gone another way. That’s a lesson we’ll take with us to the Final.”
“We stuck to our game plan in the third period and never got frustrated,” said former Rockford IceHog Dustin Byfuglien. “We’ll be back at work on Tuesday (May 25), but we’re going to enjoy this for a little while. I think this team and this city deserves, it.”
As of press time, the Hawks were awaiting the Eastern Conference Finals winner and to have a schedule set for the Stanley Cup Finals.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the May 26-June 1, 2010 issue