So let’s review what is supposed to be just about the NHL’s signature day during the regular season, possibly only apart from the All-Star Game, which has its own issues.
For the day and morning leading up to it, all the news pretty much had to do with how this game had little chance of getting off on time, what they would do if it didn’t, and what would happen if they had to abandon in midgame. This is not exactly how you build momentum toward an occasion. This is obviously always a problem for outdoor games, but this one was particularly pronounced.
When it came out that the Hawks and Blues would have to engage in a shootout in two months’ time in case this game was ended early, but after two periods, and tied, it had the mark of a league that didn’t have a plan or shouldn’t be taken seriously.
So you fill your pregame reports and news with how there was a tight window because of approaching rain and storms, and you still have all your pregame silliness? It certainly wouldn’t be unheard of, and seeing as how the league had an announcement ready at 7am, they could have adjusted plans in plenty of time to get the puck dropped at 12:05 or even 12:10. Luckily, they got away with that one.
So you have a pretty cool anthem actually, and then right before the game, right before the puck drops on what the league hopes are the most amount of eyeballs on a regular season game, they trot out drunken, mutant sloth Bobby Hull. People ask me all the time why I can’t quite get back to being the fan of hockey or the Hawks that I was not so long ago, and here it is right here.
There is absolutely no reason to have that pickled, wigged turd on your biggest stage. At the very best, it’s willfully ignorant. If the Blues want to trot out Brett Hull as their greatest ever player, that’s cool. But no one would be asking, “Where’s Bobby?” if the Hawks didn’t trot out his father, who just happened to beat the shit out of his mother. A. because no one would care and B. we already know that Bobby would be face-down in his own vomit somewhere, sadly not drowning in it.
It is very hard to get reattached to a team and league that continues to trot out an alcoholic, Nazi-sympathizing, wife-beater as a representative and statesmen. It’s remarkably tone-deaf, and that’s being as kind as I can be. Basically it’s garbage. We keep asking for the sport, team to move beyond this. And yet they quite simply refuse, for utterly no reason.
So fine, we move on from that. The Hawks get off to a decent enough start, but the rain that dropped throughout the first 20 minutes chopped up the play pretty heavily. The puck was bouncing all over the place, even though NBC couldn’t wait to tell us how good the surface was.
As the game continued, NBC was really in top form. They insisted on the Madden wire-cam, except hockey moves far too quickly and changes directions too quickly for that to work. So you couldn’t follow the action at all, and concluded with missing Patrik Berglund’s goal completely. The crowd mic was off, which made it sound like they were playing on a soundstage in Hollywood. Doc Emerick was obviously sick, which didn’t help either.
And the entire crew spent more of the game trying to sell what an occasion and how magical it all was instead of describing the action. It all sounded like they were trying to sell me a timeshare.
And then we get a pretty mediocre performance from the Hawks and not really all that better from the Blues. The rain stopped after the first period, and yet the Hawks continued to play as if the rain was there. And playing a simple game isn’t really what the Hawks do, and considering their injuries they’re even less geared for it. The Hawks bottom six, aside from maybe Rasmussen, was AHL quality at best. The Blues might not have the high points the Hawks do, or as many, but they’re far deeper given today’s lineups.
Throw in that all of Duncan Keith, Brian Campbell, and TVR with his usual excellence, and you have a team that needed Corey Crawford to hold them in for as long as possible until they could conjure something at the other end. But he can only Atlas for so long. And the dam broke.
Oh but we weren’t done. As if the pregame wasn’t bad enough, we then get a separate interview with Bobby Hull, where Roenick refers to him as one of the “greatest guys.” This was only a few more minutes after Pierre McGuire had told Quenneville that the HAwks have been, “such solid citizens for the NHL” I nearly puked.
Those of us on this side don’t ask much. I don’t need mention of everything that went on with the Hawks last year. I just don’t need them lauded as being some sort of mark of humanity when all they’re really good at is winning hockey games. Stick to that, and we’ll deal with the rest. I don’t need Bobby Hull vilified on TV or tarred and feathered, though I wouldn’t complain either. I just need him to not be around. It’s remarkably simple.
And yet neither the Hawks or NHL can manage it. And they wonder why their ratings are worse than a soccer league’s where all the games kickoff before noon.
All in all, a pretty wretched day for a Hawks fan.
I know this is remarkably dark and morose for a game wrap in January. And I don’t really want it to be. But if you’re curious as to why we sometimes write and talk the way we do, this is why. Because it seems like the league and team, needing the simplest steps with no cost in order to not insult this part of its fanbase, can’t figure it out, actively doesn’t want to, or is purposely putting our nose in it.