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posted: 6/12/2013 5:00 AM

Editorial: Blackhawks a unifying force for region

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

For those in our readership of a certain age -- say over 50 -- when a potential Chicago championship comes along, it's a big deal. A really big deal.

After all, many in that age group had to wait well into their 20s to get a taste of a championship when the Bears won the Super Bowl. Their childhood highlight, if a North Side fan, was the agonizing collapse of the Cubs in 1969 or the Game 7 defeat of the Blackhawks at the hands of the Canadiens in 1971.

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But for new generations of Chicagoans, today's Stanley Cup Finals opener is getting to be almost old hat. Those in their 20s can remember the 1990s Bulls dynasty; younger fans know the excitement of a Sox World Series win and the Blackhawks are in the Finals for the second time in four years. Even the Bears made another Super Bowl not all that long ago.

Yep, this could be a golden era of Chicago sports (baseball this year notwithstanding.) And it couldn't come at a better time to help heal political and social divisions that have been highlighted of late. No matter your favorite sport -- or even if you don't have one -- the city and suburbs are abuzz again with championship fever. And when a sports team reaches this level, it unifies the community, despite all our differences, large and small.

So, united we stand at the United Center and beyond. Heck, even the state's divided pols are looking to draft off the good vibes of the Blackhawks and perhaps work together to solve the state's pension crisis.

"You know, I went to the game the other night. The Blackhawks game. I saw Jonathan Toews assist Patrick Kane, who scored the winning goal. And that's the kind of teamwork that we need in Illinois," Gov. Pat Quinn said on Illinois Public Radio Monday.

If only. But let's not digress.

I'm sure Quinn will have better luck getting support for his bet with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Both have agreed to do some volunteer work in the other state depending on which team wins. Good job, governors.

We're also impressed with the average fans who are growing playoff beards as a way to raise money for Chicago Blackhawks charities. It's a tradition, for those not in the know, for NHL players to grow beards for the playoffs and not shave until the Cup is won. Here's hoping for a lot of shaggy Blackhawks for at least another week and shaggy fans, too.

If you want to donate, go to http://www.beardathon.com/blackhawks/team.aspx and choose your favorite. Beards are growing all over the suburbs, from Aurora to Huntley, Naperville to Hoffman Estates, Bloomingdale to Buffalo Grove.

It's just one way to show your support for the Hawks. We're looking for more as the Finals progress, so let us know what you're doing at blackhawks@dailyherald.com. And, Go Hawks!

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