It's over ... the dream is over ... the Blackhawks' dream of winning the Stanley Cup is over.
That's a panicky overreaction, of course, to the Hawks' loss to the Red Wings in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal series.
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For one thing, no offense to the Hawks or the NHL or Lord Stanley, but how can the dream be over if the last thing I dream about is hockey?
I dream about string bikinis, Copper River salmon, 200 mph cars that get 100 mpg, a cure for the common belly, biggest-screen TVs and golf balls that have no idea how to slice.
Oh, yeah, and a winning Powerball ticket ... until early Sunday morning I dreamed a lot about a winning Powerball ticket.
Hockey, though? No, not anymore than baseball, football or basketball.
The Hawks aren't any less likely to win the Stanley Cup before Monday's Game 3 in Detroit than they were before the Wings tied the series at 1-1 Saturday in Chicago.
The question is, how likely was it then and how likely is it now?
As a lifelong Chicagoan conditioned by a life long on sports disappointments, my inclination always is that a championship is unlikely.
This is unfair pessimism considering that since 1985 the Bears have won a Super Bowl, the Bulls six NBA titles, the White Sox a World Series and the Hawks a Stanley Cup.
Yet a childhood filled with too many failures continues to pollute any view of local sports with skepticism. No matter how hard I try to dream of championships, I wake up from nightmares.
Even after the Hawks proved a mere three years ago that they could win a Stanley Cup, winning another remains an improbable dream.
The 1990s Bulls notwithstanding, this isn't a dynasty town -- it's a die-hard town. Instead of dreaming of the next Hawks' parade, I lie awake in a cold sweat pondering what might go wrong.
Perhaps Hawks goalie Corey Crawford will stand on his head during these playoffs but be facing the wrong way with his eyes closed. The shortage at center that was perceived anxiously prior to the season still could turn out to be a reality at the worst time of the year. The concern about the skilled Hawks not being tough enough to withstand a physical series will remain until they hoist the Cup.
The Hawks indicated during the abbreviated regular season that they could overcome any or all of those, but indications must translate into hard evidence during the postseason.
Shortened regular seasons in any league -- like a 48-game season in the NHL -- inspire wackiness. More relevantly, they can deceive in mysterious ways.
The Hawks set records for fast starts and carried that momentum right through into the playoffs.
Ah, but talk in January was that the Hawks had the advantage of bringing back a veteran team with very few additions or subtractions, so they were able to hit the ice speed skating despite hardly any training camp.
But what if the Hawks peaked too early? What if other teams gradually caught up the past few months? What if the Wings are one of those teams?
The Hawks weren't rewarded with a parade or party for their commendable regular season. All they earned was the right to play the rival Red Wings in the second round.
If I dreamed about hockey, this wouldn't have been the matchup I dreamed of.