Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune,
The franchise’s motto is “One Goal.’’ This isn’t that goal. This is failure.
Some franchises might be happy to reach the conference finals. Some might be thrilled just to reach the Stanley Cup Final. Not the Hawks. It’s Cup or bust. They tell us all the time. “One Goal.’’...
Just like that, epic fail.
So much played out in the Hawks’ favor, starting with captain Jonathan Toews, regarded as the best two-way player in the game, and Patrick Kane, the scariest stickhandler in the league.
They also had Marian Hossa, a first-team two-way player. They had Patrick Sharp, one of the best snipers going. They had defenseman Keith, a Norris Trophy candidate, and their next three defensemen were considered to be No. 1 blueliners by Kings coach Darryl Sutter.
The Hawks had everything their way. They owned the roster with the best top-end talent and depth. They had some swagger. They were the defending champs, and despite finishing third in their division, they were looking at home-ice advantage in the three final rounds.
They missed the Avalanche and vexing goalie Semyon Varlamov. They got into the Blues’ heads. They had more talent than the Wild. They had more top-end talent than the Kings, and they are a far more talented team than the Rangers, even if the Rangers have the best goalie in the game.
The Hawks should’ve been the best team going, and they should gone back-to-back and won their third Cup in five years. They didn’t.
from Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Chicago, pack your (body) bags.
Not for a trip to New York for the Stanley Cup Final against the upstart Rangers. That would have been too much fun.
Nope, pack ’em for a long summer off, with only the Cubs (gag), the White Sox (zzzz), the Bulls (not playing), the Bears (lifting weights) and the echo of might-have-been to sustain us.
In yet another thrilling overtime game, the Kings beat the Hawks 5-4, sticking the (Chelsea) dagger deep into our beloved hockey team’s heart. Once again, a 2-0 lead did not hold up for the Hawks, who lost Game 2 after being up two goals.
This one was tougher to take than that collapse because the Hawks were ahead in this game 2-0, then 3-2, then 4-3, before losing on Alec Martinez’s shot that glanced off the Hawks’ Nick Leddy and over goalie Corey Crawford’s shoulder 5:47 into overtime.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Quick, scan back through your memory bank: When did the NHL last have all of this? You know, such popularity, such mainstream appeal and such relevance.
An enduring playoff series like the one just contested by Los Angeles and Chicago will help do that for you, as will the upcoming megamarket Stanley Cup final between the Kings and New York Rangers. A memorable spring seems to have put the little hockey league that could on the verge of something more.
The sight of Charles Barkley wearing a Patrick Kane sweater and high-fiving other fans in Chicago, Robert DeNiro waving a white rally towel at Madison Square Garden or a good portion of Hollywood populating the lower bowl at the Staples Center for the Kings, not the Lakers, provide snapshots for what seems to be an underlying trend.
The NHL has already generated record revenues this season and is expecting to draw sizeable television numbers for the first championship in pro sports to include the two largest American cities since the 1981 World Series. There aren’t precise metrics for it, but what the league has really been creating is buzz.
from David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune at the LA Times,
At 10:10 p.m. CDT Sunday night, Chicago shook its fist at fate, cursed the Kings and slowly started to face reality that will take all summer to sink in.
BREAKING NEWS: Hearts all over town broke watching the Blackhawks lose, 5-4, in overtime in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. There will be no Stanley Cup repeat or Grant Park parade. Stunningly, the Blackhawks' season is over. It even seems odd to type that....
You didn't have to be an NBC executive to appreciate what America witnessed. A wonderful series that deserved a Game 7 required overtime too — as fitting as it was frustrating. With due respect to the Rangers, the NHL will stage a Stanley Cup Final, but this series decided the league's best team.
"It's hard to admit to ourselves this season is over," Toews said.
Rest assured, it will be even harder for a hockey city to accept.
“If you look at how close we were, how competitive it was, it’s a tough league, it’s a tough thing to do to win the Cup. I couldn’t be prouder of our guys the way we competed. It’s a tough situation, down 3-1, and we were one shot away from going and trying to do it again.”
“I’ve lost some tough games, but nothing like tonight.”
-Joel Quenneville, head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks after last night's game, More from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo.
From the OT goal by the LA Kings, to the awarding of the Clarence Campbell Trophy, HNIC was there.
Oh, and Bob Cole too.
I would have predicted a five-game win for the Kings had they taken care of business in Game 6 at home against the Blackhawks. Instead, the Kings were taxed to the limit by Chicago, had to fly to Chicago and back, and poured every ounce they had in finishing off the Blackhawks. I feel better about New York making this a series because of it. Still ... West is best. Kings in 7.
I kind of "stole" the prime quotes from the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson's main Hockey World column for my Malik Report overnight entry, but I smiled broadly and nearly laughed out loud form the Blog Cave while reading Holland tell Matheson the same dang thing--almost word for word--that Babcock's been repeating to journalists and radio talk show hosts who can't or won't believe that Babcock will remain with Detroit when he can coach anywhere he wants after his contract's up a summer from now:
“I don’t believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence … I believe he’s happy in Detroit, but there are options,” said Holland, whose contract is also up next July, but will certainly get a new one from owner Mike Ilitch.
Holland has got the Red Wings into the playoffs in each of his 17 seasons. There were three Stanley Cup championships in 1998, 2002 and 2008, plus a Game 7 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009.
Late-season rallies were required to keep a 23-year playoff streak alive while the Red Wings integrated lots of young players — Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurko, Danny DeKeyser — into the lineup each of the last two years.
“Two years ago, we won our last four games to get into the playoffs. This year, we got in again (despite a terrible run of injuries),” said Holland. “Mike’s a tremendous coach, if not the best coach in the league, then one of the best.”
Matheson's main column focuses on Babcock and Holland, but he also included this nugget of wisdom from Ottawa Senators assistant coach Perry Pern (regarding Barry Trotz's attempts to get Alex Ovechkin to "buy in" to playing defense, as Matheson addressed in a Sunday afternoon column):
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The NHL posted the players and coaches' presser transcripts after the Chicago Blackhawks lost Game 7 to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night, but the videos might better convey the tone of their comments.
First, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville took to the podium...
Then Kings coach Darryl Sutter was hilariously awkward as usual, while wearing a suit two sizes too big...
Having a 2 AM-conversation with Franklin Steele on Twitter, I had to amend my take as to why the Chicago Blackhawks weren't able to defend their Stanley Cup championship. As a Red Wings fan, I would argue that a team needs Vladimir Konstantinov and Sergei Mnatsakanov-sized motivation to repeat, and I would point out that the Blackhawks played until June 24th of 2013--and sometimes forget that 90% of the players who didn't make the Conference Final are already beginning their summertime workouts to prepare physically and mentally for the next season.
Chicago played so very late into the lockout-marred 2013 season that the mental and physical challenges the speedy Hawks faced had to feel insurmountable, and then Franklin reminded me that on top of having perhaps nine weeks to re-focus, TEN Blackhawks participated in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
Even as a Wings fan, I have to applaud the hell out of the Hawks for getting to Game 7 of the Western Conference Final given the challenges they faced.
ESPN's Craig Custance penned an Insider-only entry as to what the Blackhawks need to do to "reload for 2014-2015," and while I'm sure that you'd argue point 1 of 3, inking Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to contract extensions ahead of the pair qualifying for unrestricted free agency next summer, is job #1, I'd suggest that Custance's second point may matter more than the guaranteed first occurring:
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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