Led by Hart Trophy favorite Patrick Kane, young captain Jonathan Toews and a ragtag group of role players, the Chicago Blackhawks’ historic 21-0-3 start to the lockout shortened season captivated a city and reinvigorated the beleaguered NHL. This week’s Sports Illustrated, which features the Blackhawks on the cover, examines the resilient team that has helped bring hockey back. This is the third time the Blackhawks have appeared on an SI cover.
Brian Cazeneuve<https://twitter.com/BrianCaz> writes that the ‘Hawks, who suffered their first loss of the season last Friday, revived the spirit of Chicago fans still upset over the departure of key players from the 2010 Stanley Cup team and have shown the resilience of the NHL (arenas are filled to 96.7% of capacity since the season started, and 109.4% in Chicago). Cazeneuve says: “And just like that—from completely locked out to totally locked in—Chicago has given the league a much needed boost. (PAGE 39)
No player has stepped up more in the streak than Kane, who was previously known more for his off-the-ice antics than his skills on it. A mature Kane says a win streak like this is even more impressive in the parity-driven NHL. Kane says:
“The Miami Heat can win 15, 16 games in a row, but how many teams can really win an NBA Title? Three? Four? I mean, the Kings won the Cup as an eight seed last year. In our league, if the 30th team beats the first team one night, it’s not a big deal. No game is a gimme.” (PAGE 36)
Despite the historic streak, Toews and the Blackhawks know it’s not about how you start. Toews says: “The wins now are great, but we know they won’t mean anything if we can’t reset our sights on winning in June.” (PAGE 39)