10.22.2006

Chicago hospital ward

The Chicago Blackhawks had a chance to be the feel-good story of the early season in the NHL.

An Original Six team that had fallen into a black hole -- their home games are not shown on any local cable or free TV station -- they made a couple of trades in the off-season that brought Martin Havlat from Ottawa via San Jose and Michal Handzus from Philadelphia.

At 4-4-0, no one is printing playoff tickets or reserving suites at the United Center, but the 'Hawks were competitive. Despite losing their last two games, all four defeats each have been by one goal.

Three weeks into the season, injuries already have taken a toll. The team announced Sunday that Handzus will miss the rest of the regular season with a knee injury suffered in a loss to St. Louis on Saturday.

This comes days after the Blackhawks lost Havlat to a high ankle sprain that is expected to keep him out for three weeks. Havlat was leading Chicago with seven goals and six assists in seven games -- he missed 58 games with the Senators last season after shoulder surgery. Handzus was tied for third with three goals and five assists in eight games.

H&H gave the Blackhawks something they've been missing the last few years: offense. Chicago has not had a 30-goal scorer since Eric Daze in 2001-02. A 40-goal scorer hasn't been seen in the Windy City since Tony Amonte in 1999-2000.

Also, goalie Nikolai Khabibulin will be out at least one week with a broken finger on his blocker hand, and highly touted but oft-injured Tuomo Ruutu hasn't played this season and still is two weeks away with a sprained knee.

Last week, on ESPN 1000 in Chicago, Teiny -- better known as Harry Teinowitz of the Mac, Jurko and Harry afternoon show -- still considered the Hawks relevant, giving them some love on air. Dan McNeill, though, said something to the effect that he was not ready to say anything about the team until the city was ready to embrace them again. If by some chance he either reads this blog (...right...) or gets a link to it, go ahead and tell me I'm wrong.

Now, if he doesn't understand the sport, that's a different matter. Perhaps putting it back on the map to try and get people all over the Midwest to "embrace this team again" would help. It's one thing to embrace winners like the White Sox and great Chicago teams like the '85 Bears and the Bulls championship teams. It's hypocritical not to include the Blackhawks, dysfunctional as they may be.

1 comment:

kansas brat said...

Ouch... my eyes hurt.

What did you do to the template?