CHICAGO -- The last time the Chicago Blackhawks won a Stanley Cup was so long ago,
The year was 1961. If there is still footage of the last Cup parade through the streets of the City with Broad Shoulders and Lousy Winters, the guess is it's in black-and-white -- entirely appropriate for a team that withheld games from local television until recently and thus skipped several TV generations. Hull, of course, was the incandescent star of the team then and when the Jumbotron showed the Golden Jet midway through the second period with that expansive smile and luxurious white mop on his head, 22,678 roared their approval. They also seemed smitten with a tall guy to his right in a red No. 23 Blackhawks sweater and a cap, a fellow who once played some basketball in the same arena where Hull, then thinning on top, wove his magic. (
Then with the ice tilted in one direction and the Chicago party well underway, the Red Wings cleared their heads, crowded the front of the net and started batting pucks past
With Chicago's playoff lives in the balance, at the start of the third period Blackhawks coach
"That's either the best time or the worst time for him to come in," Blackhawks forward
Huet is a no-maintenance goalie, a quality that once endeared him to teammates when he played in Montreal. He bided his time with the Hawks, worked hard in practice -- "Just trying to keep our (shooters) honest," he said with a hint of a grin -- and filled a giant chasm when Chicago needed it. He is preternaturally calm. Whether he settled the Hawks or they worked especially hard to cocoon their new goalie -- a question of what came first, the poulet or the oeuf -- doesn't matter. For whatever reason, the Blackhawks played one of their most solid post-season periods in the third. In a city that had
Now, back to the other depletions on the rosters.
The Red Wings were down a defenseman because
The penalty, which carried an automatic game misconduct, was seen through different prisms, naturally. Chicago defenseman
The Blackhawks victory guaranteed a June 5 start for the Stanley Cup final, which could lead to a healthy hiatus of more than a week for the Pittsburgh Penguins and perhaps the Red Wings if both teams run through the rest of their Conference finals series. This, of course, messes with the biological clocks of hockey players, who have been genetically programmed for a game every other day in the spring.
But this isn't the case of DNA. This is a case of NBC.
In a contorted move that not even former Olympic gymnast and
Now the exposure is swell -- better than the NHL's subterranean cable partner Versus, which never will be the default channel of choice for the casual sports fan -- but the NHL, in aiming to please a network partner that pays no up-front rights fees, is veering into areas where it affects competition. Occasionally stadium availability will force some permutations like the back-to-back games Pittsburgh and Washington were obliged to play in their second-round series, but the showcase series deserves to be properly nurtured. The NHL needs to think of what's best for Detroit rookie