Why are hockey, the Blackhawks and the NHL such a big hit in Chicago?
Well, the big hits themselves do have something to do with it. But they represent only one of myriad elements that comprise the unique rhythms, traditions and language of the sport.
Here are some other reasons, past and present, from Mush March to Elbows Nesterenko to Captain Serious, for the game's popularity around here:
For starters, of course, Lord Stanley's Cup.
Winning it, hoisting it, hugging it, kissing it, drinking from it, enjoying one full day to do what a champion wants to do with it.
Playoff intensity, playoff overtime and playoff beards.
Playoff hockey, period.
The greatest 17 seconds in memory.
Any goaltender that stands on his head.
Charlie Gardiner, Glenn Hall, Tony Esposito, Eddie Belfour and now Corey Crawford.
My personal favorite, Al Rollins.
Rough-tough, rock 'em-sock 'em, end-to-end mayhem that requires penalties to be whistled for transgressions like slashing, spearing, roughing, cross-checking, charging, boarding, hooking, elbowing and fighting.
Sorry but the NHL's appeal has to include goons, five-minute majors, thugs and game misconducts.
But also included has to be Lady Byng.
Players being paid like the 1 percent but working like the 99 percent.
Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk.
Doc Emrick and Eddie Olczyk.
Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat and the Madhouse on Madison.
"The Star-Spangled Banner" by Jim Cornelison, and before him Wayne Messmer.
The goal light.
Forechecks, backchecks and unsung Czechs like Michal Rozsival.
Oh yeah, and fat checks signed by Rocky Wirtz.
John McDonough and Jay Blunk.
RIP: Keith Magnuson, Reggie Fleming and too many other Hawks from my youth.
A Zamboni, any Zamboni.
Savvy plus Spin-o-ramas plus Savoir Faire equals Denis Savard.
The Bowmans younger and older.
Frolik and Kruger killing time.
Hawks' home games on TV.
"Let's go, Hawks! … Let's go, Hawks! … Let's go, Hawks!"
The old Chicago Stadium.
Don't forget Dale Tallon.
The Sutters, give or take a half dozen of them.
Agitators, belligerents and pests.
Speed and skill vs. size and strength.
The statues today … and the real thing back in the day.
Winners and losers in the handshake line after a playoff series.
Slap shots, wrist shots and one-timers.
"Here come the Hawks" … "Cold Steel on Ice … "One Goal."
The Indian head, as politically incorrect as it might be.
Opponents like Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby.
Lord Stanley's Cup … again.
The parties, parades and rallies.
Those are just some of the reasons hockey is such a big hit in Chicago.
Maybe the question should be why it isn't as big in so many places across the rest of the United States.