The Chicago Blackhawks, if they win tonight's Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, will be champions of hockey for the second time in four seasons.
Now, let's rewrite that sentence and dream a little about what might come in the future:
The Chicago Cubs, if they win tonight's Game 6 of the World Series, will be champions of baseball for the second time in four seasons.
That's what we'd all like, obviously, and the Blackhawks have become what we hope the Cubs will -- a perennial playoff team with a real shot at winning championships every year. The NHL is different from baseball, of course, because the salary cap can force teams to divest players that they really would rather keep. That happened to the Blackhawks after they won the Cup three years ago. Yet they were able to retool through smart management. They have an excellent GM and coach -- and don't forget, Joel Quenneville was hired the season before the Hawks won the Cup for the first time, replacing a franchise icon in Denis Savard.
I won't pretend to know as much about hockey nor the way a team is built as I do about baseball. Still, there is much to be admired about the way the Blackhawks have built up a team that was nothing more than a blip on Chicago sports radar as recently as seven years ago. From 1997-2007 the Blackhawks made the playoffs once and did not have a winning season in that span except for that one playoff year, where they were dispatched in the first round.
We'd like the Cubs to become the organization that the Blackhawks have. Hockey is still a niche sport for most Americans, but the Blackhawks have a very strong presence in Chicago, which is still mostly a baseball and football town.
Hopefully, the Cubs are headed in the right direction. In the meantime, go Blackhawks, and bring another title to our town.