Blackhawks for Dummies v3.0
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Last time we talked Hawks 101, it was three years ago and the Blackhawks were in the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. Since we won the Stanley Cup in 2010, the Hawks have been hot and our hockey IQ isn't quite as rusty.
The Blackhawks are in the Stanley Cup Finals tonight in Game 1 against the Boston Bruins. If we win, it'll be the fifth Stanley Cup in the franchise's 87-year history.
But if you haven't watched every game in this super short season -- or you can't tell the difference between a hockey puck and a sausage patty -- we've put together a cheat sheet, for the third time since the Hawks got good, of important details and lingo for you to know so you can sound like a real fan as you mingle with the die-hards during the series.
Our updated primer on Hawks hockey includes some new things we've learned, plus a few obscure facts to help you really impress. Welcome to our Hawks For Dummies v3.0.
Stanley Cup: The Holy Grail of hockey. It's a gigantic, barrel-shaped silver trophy with the names of all the NHL championship winners inscribed on it. And you don't get to keep it for more than a year, unless you win back-to-back championships. It's one of only two traveling trophies in pro sports. The last time the Hawks got to hoist the Cup was in 2010. The Hawks also won the Cup in 1934, 1938 and 1961.
Sweater: Baseball, football and basketball players wear jerseys. Hockey players wear "sweaters." At least that's how the traditionalists play it. Because it's cold on the rink, players used to wear uniforms made of woven sweater fabric. Today, they don't, but the name sticks.
Periods: Don't be an idiot and call them quarters. Why? Because there are only three.
Penalty box: Ever been to a confessional when you'd rather be out playing with your friends? Same idea; less conversation. When a player gets in trouble, he gets a time out from the refs and has to sit in the box. The shortest penalty is 2 minutes. The longest is for the entire game (when you get called for game misconduct).
High-sticking: Raising your stick or doing a Kirk Gibson arm-pump is de rigueur when you're celebrating a goal. But you can't whack someone with your stick above shoulder height without visiting the penalty box.
Slashing: If you whack someone below the shoulder.
Power play: When someone on the opposing team has a player in the penalty box and you have the advantage of another player on the ice. Note: This would be an opportune time to score a goal. It's embarrassing when the other guys score on you when they are short-handed.
Penalty killing: When you have a player in the penalty box and you're able to keep the puck out of your net when the other team has more men on the ice.
Faceoff: Picture a jump ball in the NBA. Now look down.
Icing: This is not what the Zamboni does (read more about the Zamboni later). Icing occurs when a team, while at even strength, shoots the puck from its half of the ice to the opposite end of the rink and it crosses the end line, and the defensive team touches the puck first. It results in a faceoff near your goal.
Zamboni: That giant street sweeper-looking machine that scrapes the snow off the ice and lays down a thin film of water that quickly freezes over, making the ice pretty again.
Checking: This isn't touch football, people. The fun part about hockey is that you can cream someone.
The Hawks are proficient at that. Did you see Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw check Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin into the Hawks bench in Game 5 of the playoffs against the Kings? Sweet. You can hit someone in possession of the puck or a guy who just got rid of it. Just don't launch yourself at someone like a torpedo from across the rink. That is charging, and you'll have to sit a spell for that.
The trapezoid: OK, think back to high school geometry. It's that area behind the goal marked by red lines. It's the only area behind the goal where the goalie can make a play.
Conversational French and Russian is helpful in figuring out hockey names, even if hockey players are not traditionally conversationalists.
Some hockey names are easy to pronounce: Hull, Orr, even Mikita. Some are not, and these can only be described as contractions because there clearly are missing syllables:
• Jonathan Toews (Taves)
• Marian Hossa (think: we're gonna "hose-ah" the Bruins)
• Johnny Oduya (Like a question: "I like the Hawks." "Oh, do ya?")
• Niklas Hjalmarsson (those Swedes and their silent H's. Jal-mer-son.)
• Joel Quenneville (just call him Coach Q)
• Patrick Sharp (There's no Y, but everyone calls him Sharpy)
Speaking of nicknames ... hockey players aren't know for their creativity. Much like Sharp/Sharpy, the other Hawks are pretty easy to remember.
Patrick Kane: Kaner
Marian Hossa: Hoss
Jonathan Toews: Taser
Duncan Keith: Duncs (teammates call him Jigsaw, though)
Brent Seabrook: Seabs
Corey Crawford: Crow
Niklas Hjalmarsson: Jelly (this makes more sense if you read the above pronunciation guide)
Bryan Bickell: Bicks
Daniel Carcillo: Carbomb
Ray Emery: Razer
Fighting: A hockey game without fighting is like a demolition derby with turn signals. See hockeyfights.com if you don't believe me. What's funny to watch is when one guy pulls the other guy's jersey, er, sweater over his head to make him swing blindly. Just like on the schoolyard when you were a kid. But the experts remind us that if you're only starting to watch now, you can pretty much forget about the fights because they rarely occur in playoff games.
The lyrics: Learn the words to "Here Come the Hawks." And learn them well. Few can get beyond the first line. Only the crazies can sing the second verse. Here's how it starts:
"Here come the Hawks, the mighty Blackhawks!
"Take the attack, yeah, and we'll back you, Blackhawks!
"You're flyin' high now, so, let's wrap it up!
"Let's go you Hawks, move off!
"Now all look out!
"Here come the Hawks!"
Bobby Hull: The Golden Jet played 15 seasons for the Hawks starting in the late '50s and was one of the top scorers in the league with his monster slap shot. He was one of the guys on the '61 championship team and has become a fixture again at the Madhouse on Madison.
Stan Mikita: A fan favorite who was more than just a talking head in "Wayne's World." The Hall of Fame forward played 22 seasons, retiring in 1980. He held the record for points in consecutive playoff games until Jonathan Toews overtook him in 2010 against San Jose.
Tony Esposito: The Hall of Fame goalie and 1968 rookie of the year was one of the first guys to splay his body across the ice to keep the puck out of the net. Let's hope Corey Crawford can keep up the tradition during this best-of-seven series.
They're going to lose. What else is there to know?
OK. In the interest of pretending to be objective journalists, here's some info you might care about.
The Bruins are part of the Original Six franchise, which includes the Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Bruins have won six Stanley Cup championships, the fourth most of all-time and second most of any American NHL team (behind the Red Wings, who have 11).
The Blackhawks and the Bruins did not play each other this year -- and have never played each other in the Stanley Cup Finals. But that doesn't matter. We gotta hate 'em.
There's some smack talk online out of Boston about how Chicago calls itself THE Windy City, but we're only in the top 20. And that we've destroyed two great American foods: The hot dog and pizza.
I'd put any Chicago accent up against a Southie. We'd suggest you write out questions like "Where can we paaaaaak our caaaa?" so people here can understand you. Our el kicks the pants off your ancient 1897 subway system.
And, for the record, the Windy City moniker comes from our blow-hard politicians. OK. Maybe we shouldn't brag on that.
Boston isn't known for its clarity, either. Boston cream pie is really a cake, Boston baked beans are really candy-coated peanuts, and the Boston Tea Party really wasn't a fun time.
And we'd put the band Chicago up against Boston any day. "More Than a Feeling" cannot compare to "You're The Inspiration."
Plus, Boston sold only 31 million albums. Chicago has sold more than 120 million records, including 22 gold, 18 platinum and eight multi-platnum albums.
Just sayin' ...
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