Time is so right for Hawks to be all they are built to be
Blackhawks fans lined up on Madison Street curbs late Tuesday afternoon to celebrate another Stanley Cup championship.
Indian head on red was the fashion statement just outside Gate 3 of the United Center. Cheers, smiles and snapshots were the emotion statements.
The Hawks arrived for the season opener in limousines and walked into the building on a red carpet. Inside, before the first puck dropped, the second championship banner in four years was raised to the rafters as a light show illuminated the stands.
Man, was this ever another example of the Hawks doing things better than any other team in town does them.
On this night at least, Chicago was a Hawks town. Now it's up to them to continue making the 2010s the Hawks' decade.
Club president John McDonough referred to the players as "a humble, hungry group of Blackhawks" and added, "It's our life's work to make you (fans) proud."
The opener -- a frenetic 6-4, comeback victory over the Washington Capitals -- served that purpose.
Now the Hawks don't want to think past the next game, much less to next spring's playoffs, much less to the next six or seven years.
That doesn't mean the rest of us can't.
This franchise has reached the point where two Stanley Cup championships are a beginning rather than an end.
It's time to be greedy. At this point, enough isn't enough. Only more will be enough and then only more will be enough and even then not even more will be enough.
Dare we utter the "D" word … as in dynasty ... as in dynasty of the decade?
Chicago sports fans have been through this phenomenon before, you know, and with mixed results.
In the 1980s the NFL belonged to the Bears in popularity if not in championships.
In the 1990s the NBA belonged to the Bulls in championships with six and in popularity thanks to Michael Jordan.
No other Chicago franchise appears primed to dominate for a period of time, so the Hawks might as well fulfill their promise and make this their decade.
The infrastructure is in place from a core of players captained by Jonathan Toews to head coach Joel Quenneville to general manager Stan Bowman to McDonough to chairman Rocky Wirtz.
The Hawks' time has come, but let's first accept the premise that no hockey team could be embraced nationally like a special football, basketball or baseball team could be.
Locally, though, these Hawks can be everything those other beloved teams were, and they already are approaching that hallowed status.
Now all the Hawks have to do is sustain their success and win a couple more or maybe even a few more Stanley Cups.
Those other Chicago teams in the "D" category had it easier, though. In the NFL of the '80s and the NBA of the '90s, each season's best team usually won the championship.
In this era of the NHL it's rare for a champion to repeat and for a regular-season leader in points to prevail through the playoffs.
No excuses are acceptable, however. Just do it, Hawks. Just defend your title this season. Just contend consistently enough every subsequent year to win a couple more.
Tuesday night felt like a Bears opener in the '80s and a Bulls opener in the '90s: Can we please just get to the playoffs already?
Chicago sports fans have a bad habit of settling for less instead of demanding more. This time it's time to insist on nothing less than the Hawks becoming everything they have been built to be.
These opening-night celebrations are too much fun for the Blackhawks not to fulfill their promise the rest of the decade.
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