WARR producer and Blackhawks reporter Sid “The Kid” is a reliable source of information when it comes to Chicago sports throughout the ages. Now every #throwbackthursday Sid gives you some of the top moments to remember for each week forward.
By Sidney Brown (@sidkid80)
A new Renaissance was rising with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2008-09 season, which ended with the franchise’s return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Led by young stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in their first deep season runs, the Hawks defeated the Calgary Flames in the opening round (4-2). Next for the Men in Red would be a distinct challenge in the Vancouver Canucks. After a split in Games 1 and 2 in Canada, Vancouver defeated the Hawks in Game 3 to regain home ice advantage.
In a highly-contested Game 4, the Hawks came up big late courtesy of Martin Havlat tying the game at 1-1 in the third period while veteran Andrew Ladd finished it off with the game-winning goal in overtime, tying the series at 2-2. Back North of the Border for Game 5, fan favorite and series MVP Dustin Byfuglien delivered two goals and caused big problems for Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo en route to a 4-2 victory, giving the Hawks a 3-2 series lead.
The United Center was primed and ready for a series clincher in Game 6. After an intense back and forth affair scoring wise, the Hawks took control of the game in the final period thanks to Patrick Kane scoring his first career playoff hat trick for a 7-5 win and a date with rival Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals.
Detroit would give the young Hawks a stern lesson, eliminating them in five games. This stepping stone would prove to be a launching pad a year later –after some key off-season moves and a season of even better play that would manifest in Chicago hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961.
Bulls, Knicks Brawl for It All
The 1993-94 season was a challenge for the defending world champion Chicago Bulls thanks to the retirement of Michael Jordan along with the incorporating of a slew of new players who weren’t around for the 3-peat, including Pete Myers, Bill Wennington, Luc Longley, Steve Kerr and one more big name to be brought up soon.
Scottie Pippen provided eased all the transitions with an MVP-caliber season, leading the Bulls to a 55-27 and a sweep of the rival Cleveland Cavaliers (3-0) in the first round. Chicago’s second round matchup with the hated New York Knicks proved to be a tall task without their most unrelenting competitor and greatest player on their roster in MJ. The first two games at Madison Square Garden exposed the Bulls’ problems at the time finishing games and they traveled back home in an 0-2 hole.
Game 3 at the old Chicago Stadium was a pivotal contest for the Bulls and they came out swinging, but so did the bully Knicks.
In this back and forth physical battle, tempers flared when Bulls guard JoJo English and Knicks guard Derek Harper exchanged blows, which led to ejections and suspensions for both players. The Knicks put on a charge in the final minutes led by Patrick Ewing — who had a game-high 34 points including the game-tying bucket with three seconds remaining — and John Starks, who added 21 off the bench.
Pippen led Chicago with 25 points, but the last play of the game would involve an already controversial rookie named Toni Kukoc. The Croatian Sensation made two game winners during the regular season and Phil Jackson tasked him with doing so again and he did with dramatic flair over Anthony Mason to bring the Bulls back into the series.
Not surprisingly, for a team desperately fighting against its own implosion, it couldn’t even enjoy the much-needed victory.
Following the win, the reporting revolved around Pippen’s displeasure that he wasn’t given the option of taking the last shot and his sitting out that last play. The choice wound up being a lowlight that Scottie still hasn’t been able to live down in the eyes of many. Given the way he asserted himself in ’93-94 though, one could understand why he felt slighted when Phil handed the moment to a rookie who only tallied eight points in that game including the game-winner.
As it were, this wouldn’t be the last time we would hear from Scottie in a crucial moment during this series that didn’t go how he’d hope.
Sidney Brown is WARR's resident Chicago sports historian