This one hurts, but my emotion is more anger than sorrow. This is the first time in my life where I feel as though one of my teams had a series stolen from them. Stolen by cheap shots, stolen by the referees, stolen by the league office, and stolen by a goalie. The 2011-12 Blackhawks never really looked like a Stanley Cup contender, but they certainly looked better than the Phoenix Coyotes and they certainly deserved better than a 4-2 series loss.
The most disturbing part of this loss is that it wasn’t decided by hockey plays. The Game 2 flop by Smith, and subsequent 3 game suspension of Shaw and the despicable head shot on Marian Hossa by Torres decided this series more than anything else. Shaw deserved a penalty for his hit on Smith. You simply can’t make contact with the goalie. Shaw should have received a 2-minute minor for goaltender interference. A 5-minute major followed by a three game suspension is lunacy. Shaw was a very important player for the Blackhawks. He is a tone setter, he plays physical, and he is a spark plug for the team. Removing him for three games would have been difficult to overcome, but losing Hossa was a death-blow. There is no doubt that Torres was hunting for Hossa in this series. He took runs at Hossa in games 1 and 2, but Hossa was able to side step them. When Torres finally completed his mission, it sucked the life out of the team and the stadium. Somehow the most dangerous, intentional, deplorable hit of the year went unseen by all of the officials on the ice and the Blackhawks came away short-handed. Perhaps if the Blackhawks had received a 5 minute major power-play and Torres had been ejected the Hawks manage to win that game.
The Blackhawks are a team built around star players and Marian Hossa is one of the most important. You simply can’t replace Marian Hossa. He is an elite player in all three zones, not to mention the team’s leading scorer during the regular season. Losing him created a black-hole in the top 6 that couldn’t be filled. The Blackhawks became drastically worse in every phase of the game, while the Coyotes went unpunished. Yes, Torres got suspended for 25 games….big effing whoop. He had a whopping 26 points on the year. He was easily replaceable for the Coyotes. They would take a Torres for Hossa swap every chance they got. They simply throw some other body in the lineup. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks were left scrambling. Saad, Bickell, Hayes, Kruger, Stalberg, Frolik, Shaw, Brunette, and Morrison put together aren’t half the player Marian Hossa is. Their effort was great, but their talent just wasn’t enough. Even with two essential players missing, the Blackhawks still carried the play against the Coyotes. The Blackhawks averaged 40 shots per game in the series. So while the Blackhawks out-played the Coyotes, Mike Smith was out-playing Corey Crawford.
Corey Crawford simply isn’t a Stanley Cup caliber goalie. He was very good at times in the series and I love how Crawford stood up with his teammates and challenged Smith, but every time the Hawks needed a big save…he failed. Crawford’s soft goals were the difference in the series. In a series where everything was stacked against the Blackhawks, they needed Crawford to just make the saves he was supposed to make…he failed. Nobody ever thought the Blackhawks would need Corey Crawford to be better than Mike Smith, but he needed to give his team a chance to win…he failed. There is a lot to like about Corey Crawford…just not as your starting goaltender. The Blackhawks must find a way to upgrade the position or at least bring in a plan B that isn’t Ray Emery. Crawford certainly doesn’t deserve all of the blame, but his play simply wasn’t good enough. His .893 series save percentage doesn’t instill a lot of confidence going forward.
It’s going to be a long summer. Again, probably not a Stanley Cup team…but stranger things have happened. A full strength Blackhawks team would certainly have beaten the Coyotes and may have gone on a long run. Now…thanks to Torres, the referees, Shanahan, and Mike Smith we will never know. I will be dusting off my LA Kings swag from the early 90s the rest of the way while wondering what could have been.
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(Chicago Tribune)–A man from Burr Ridge is accused of sending threatening emails to the president and owner of the Chicago Blackhawks and the former general manager of the Chicago Cubs, accusing them of “stealing his ideas” to win championships, police said. Emanuel Kuvakos, 56, was arrested Tuesday night and charged with three counts of misdemeanor harassment by electronic means, police said. Kuvakos sent “a number’’ of emails to Blackhawks CEO John McDonough and to Jim Hendry, the former general manager of the Chicago Cubs, that accused them of “stealing his ideas to win championships,’’ according to a police report. On Saturday, he sent them another email stating that he would keep the Blackhawks from winning the Stanley Cup, police said. While being interviewed by authorities, he claimed he also sent a message to Rocky Wirtz, the Blackhawks owner, saying that if he ever saw Wirtz, he would beat him, according to the police report. Kuvakos, whose nickname is “Mike,” said during a telephone interview with the Chicago Tribune that he has been a freelance sportswriter for 30 years, and claimed he is a sports psychologist and “savant” who works for the Blackhawks, White Sox and the Cubs. Kuvakos denied the messages he sent accused officials of stealing his championship-winning ideas and claimed the police arrested him because of what “he knows’’ about the Blackhawks.”Police wouldn’t be responding if I wasn’t as important as I’m telling you,’’ he said. Shortly before hanging up on a reporter, he said he was becoming suspicious and asked if the interview was “set up” by the Chicago Police.
Son of a bitch!!! This thing is bigger than I thought. I can’t even really begin to grasp a conspiracy this enormous. All along this guy Emanuel “Mike” Kuvakos was giving the Blackhawks the secrets to winning the Stanley Cup. Just told Rocky Wirtz to kill his old man. Told Tallon to draft Toews, Kane, Seabrook, Keith, Byfuglien, Bolland, and Burish. Told him sign Brian Campbell, Hossa, and Niemi. Told him to trade for Versteeg and Ladd. I mean that’s effing gold strategies for winning the Cup. It worked. Then the Blackhawks thought people would get wise if they were dominant for too long so they fired Dale Tallon and broke up the team. They blamed it on the Salary Cap, but really it was to clean up all the loose ends of a massive conspiracy. Somewhere along the way the Blackhawks made the mistake of pissing off “Mike”. Maybe they didn’t give him a Stanley Cup ring. Maybe they fired him, who knows? Whatever it was, it was bad enough to turn him against his hometown team. This year he is sitting back watching the Blackhawks start moving towards another Stanley Cup run using the plan he created, but didn’t get any sort of compensation or even a thank you. This bro flat-out tells the Hawks that he is going to prevent them from winning the Cup…then bang…Shaw gets a ridiculous suspension and Torres knocks out Hossa. Did Kuvakos tell Gary Bettman all of the Blackhawks secrets? Did Bettman order the kill shot on Hossa? I mean I am sure Betman would be furious if he found out the Blackhawks were stealing secret strategies guaranteeing them a Stanley Cup. So he sent his best assassine on the league owned Phoenix Coyotes to murder one of the Blackhawks superstars. Stop the Hawks. Save the Coyotes. Torres is Oswald, Shanahan is Jack Ruby, Hossa is JFK, Kuvakos is Ferrie, I am Costner, and Bettman is the man behind it all pulling the strings.
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