Marc Elliott

PARK POINT…. Friends, I have seen just over 50 Stanley Cup tourneys in my lifetime and I have to tell you that I am not certain I have ever witnessed a Cup clinching game quite like the Chicago Blackhawk’s Game 6, 3-2 win this past Monday eve over the Boston Bruins. The pesky Bruins went up 1-0 on a Chris Kelly goal at 7:19 of the 1st period. Then the Hawks “Captain Serious” Jonathon Toews tied it up at 4:24 of the 2nd period. It was pretty much a back and forth tilt featuring offense and defense and then at 12:11 of the 3rd Boston’s Milan Lucic scored to put the B’s up by one.

Because of some taut goaltending by the Hawks Corey Crawford and the Bruins Tuuka Rask it appeared that Lucic’s goal might stand up and force a Game 7 or “Seven Heaven” as the Fan Jr. and I like to refer to them as. However, the Hockey Gods had different plans. With Crawford on the bench for an extra attacker the Hawks playoff journeyman turned goal scoring wunderkind Bryan Bickell went five hole on Rask for the equalizer. The Hawks bench exploded. But the party was just starting as a mere 17 seconds later Dave Bolland got the go ahead goal with 58 seconds left.

The Hawks held off the Bruins for the remainder of the period and mayhem ensued as the Hawks celebrated their 2nd Cup in 4 seasons. In the end I believe the Hawks wore the Bruins down. Early in the series the Hawks tried to play the Bruins game and match them in physicality and that’s when they played their worst hockey of the series. When the Hawks came out flying in Game 4 when they were down 2-1 in games, they had offensive success, won the game and evened the series up and discovered what they were going to have to do to win the series; play Blackhawk hockey.

Once the Hawks started to revert to their strengths the tide turned for them. Injuries played a key role with the Bruins star forward Patrice Bergeron playing with a myriad of physical ailments thus changing one huge facet of the series; face-offs. Before Bergeron was hurt, he owned Toews in the faceoff circle, afterward, not so much. This was just one of many factors the Hawks used to their favor to alter the series. In the end the Hawks relentless attack took over and the Bruins couldn’t keep up. The Bruins star defenseman Zdeno Chara appeared totally gassed at the end of Game 6.

After Bolland scored the Bruins and their fans were absolutely stunned. And I have got to add that I was as well. My cell phone was lighting up with messages from family that were in disbelief. With the pace of the game seeming to settle in toward a Bruin victory and a Game 7 it appeared that Game 6 was headed for the history books. Then fatigue and fate stepped in and just that quickly the Hawks were hoisting the greatest trophy in sports history in front of a silenced crowd.

Before and after the win by the Hawks, fans were coming out from all over the country. As a young kid I liked the Hawks because of my love for Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita. I still kind of liked them after the NorthStars hit town, but that changed a bit during the great NorthStar-Blackhawk wars of the eighties. Then oddly, in the mid-nineties the Hawks trended downward and were playing in front of an empty building at home. After club owner William Wirtz passed away his son Rocky took over and a brave new renaissance was born. The team has not looked back.

The photo of the Hawks jersey is from a boy scout camp near Parks AZ. My nephew Paul Elliott Jr. and his son Cameron Paul were at the scout camp over the weekend where the Dude Cam ‘P’ was working on 4 new merit badges. I believe Parks is near Flagstaff in the mountains, but not exactly in or near any hotbeds of hockey. But the photo is proof that the love of the game is and has been spreading throughout the country. I had a big smile on my face when I downloaded it. Like John Weideman says at the end of all victorious Hawks radio broadcasts; Hawks win! Hawks win!!

THE NHL ENTRY DRAFT IS literally coming up in mere hours from right now and I am looking forward to seeing who will do what. Most scouts are calling the 2013 draft a deep one with at least the top 8-10 clubs possibly getting some players that will make their teams big team roster right away. The Minnesota Wild will not be one of those clubs. While the Wild have 8 picks this year, they hold none in the first round and will not pick until the 46th spot in the 2nd round. They have a 2nd, two 3rd’s, a 4th, 5th ,  6th and two 7th round picks. In other words this years draft won’t be helping the team in the near future.

But if you subscribe to the theory that you fill needs through trades and free agents and add a player to your future here and there through the draft, the Wild should be ok provided they use this years picks wisely. They would have picked 16th overall in the 1st round but that pick went to Buffalo via the Jason Pominville deal. I still believe Wild GM Chuck Fletcher gave up too much in that deal but it can’t be changed back now. I did spend a solid 30 minutes this evening looking at the Wilds current depth chart and honestly it’s not pretty.

When I look at the rosters of this years Conference finalists the Wild are simply not that much closer to that level then they were at this time last year. Sure they were just a few days away from one of the biggest free agent coups in the modern history of the NHL, however, the supporting cast is still relatively weak and the Blackhawk’s just won their 2nd Cup in 4 years because of roster depth. The team needs to have a solid draft and some strong deals made this week to prevent them from running in place. We will see in about 12 hours from now! Looking forward to it! PEACE.