WARR’s hockey writer Sidney Brown offers his takes on the Blackhawks throughout their postseason run
As a lifelong Chicagoan, a lifelong Chicago Blackhawks fan, once again I can walk proud and with my head held high throughout the coming summer as the Blackhawks organization displayed their class and excellence in the 2015 edition of their championship parade and rally, which wound through Chicago’s downtown area Thursday and ended at Soldier Field.
I was one of the many unlucky ones that couldn’t get tickets to the free event but watching it on television was the next best seat in the house for me.
Throughout the proceedings it was shown over and over why the Hawks are probably the best run operation in perhaps all of sports.
Team television voice Pat Foley, serving as MC for the rally, made special mention of the names of Clint Reif (the team’s equipment manager, who passed away in December), Steve Montador ( an ex-Hawk from the 2011-12 season who died in February) and franchise legend Stan Mikita, who is suffering from dementia. In each case this team, riding so high right now, made sure to pay respect to those who made the Hawks the franchise it is today.
Owner Rocky Wirtz addressed the crowd early on, thanking the fans as always and then wrapped up his speech by saying “Let’s Get Four!” A similar refrain was repeated throughout the rally, reminding fans that the franchise is all about winning as many Cups as possible.
As the players were introduced one by one, Mr. Corey Crawford once again made sure his time at the podium would be remembered, utilizing the same kind of language he did in 2013, despite promising that he wouldn’t say those choice words again. Crawford didn’t disappoint in his own unique way to thank the fans and shock the higher-ups. As a fan, I have to admit chuckling for a moment.
Was it the “right” thing to say? NO, not in that moment, but given the criticism Crawford has gone through since taking over the starting goalie spot in the 2010-11 season — in spite of mostly excellent play — Crawford has earned the right to let off some steam, but maybe use some better and professional “choice” words to express yourself, Corey, before this routine starts to get tired.
CJ Reif Steals Show
The best moment from Thursday’s rally came courtesy of Kris Versteeg, now a two-time Stanley Cup winner. When he was introduced Versteeg allowed the son of the late Clint Reif, CJ, to the stage and handed him the team’s championship belt, which is given to the best performing Hawks player after every victory.
The thought that came to mind while watching this was how this moment was obviously important for the Hawks themselves and that the Rief family should be very proud of their role within the Hawks organization, it had to mean a lot with the way the team is keeping Clint Rief’s name alive.
Afterwards, Versteeg, along with teammate Joakim Nordstrom, proceeded to sing Macklemore’s “And We Danced” to fire up the crowd and to Versteeg I would say nice job letting loose and I’m glad that you didn’t embarrass yourself like in 2010 when he had his first unfortunate attempt at rapping.
To the city of Chicago and Hawks fans everywhere, give yourselves an around of applause as well because the Hawks franchise has shown how much they’re committed to winning along with maintaining long-term success, unlike most other teams in Chicago outside of the Chicago Bulls of the 1990’s.
Can this now-established dynasty of three Cups in six years continue? All signs are pointing up but runs like these don’t happen naturally in today’s sports climate given free agency, league-wide salary caps and the fatigue of playing in long playoff runs.
Finally, as long as Wirtz, team president John McDonnough and general manager Stan Bowman are the faces of the Hawks’ front office, this team should be on the right track for many years to come and their now-famous statement should continue to have lasting impact.
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