Imrem: Somebody has to panic about Chicago Blackhawks
Letter to the editor: No, no it isn't, of course it isn't.
This comment is in response to a Daily Herald headline concerning the Chicago Blackhawks, "Is it too early to panic?"
The headline appeared the morning after the night before, when the Kings drubbed the Hawks in the United Center.
The subhead read, "Despite big loss, Hawks say yes," as in yes, it is too early to panic.
The athlete's job is to maintain confidence and reassure the masses that the roof of the arena isn't falling.
The job of fans and media is to anticipate that if the worst can happen, it will.
Panic is good for the soul, so on Tuesday, election day in Illinois, I elected to fret and sweat over the Hawks.
Yet the majority still ho-hums the Hawks' struggles and waits for the club to become playoff-awesome.
That's the exception to the norm in Chicago sports, where pessimism generally overwhelms optimism.
Like, when will the Cubs' train derail? By June. When will the Bears' free agents bomb out? During minicamp. When will the White Sox disappoint again? Sooner than later. When will the Bulls' next injury or illness occur? Doctors are on speed dial.
The mood surrounding the Hawks is different thanks to three Stanley Cup championships over the past six seasons.
This team is perceived to be inoculated against the common crumble, right? Management's deadline trades offset previous salary-cap attrition, right? Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville will fix whatever needs fixing, right?
The Blackhawks have lost three straight games to three straight formidable conference opponents.
It's time to wonder about the Hawks, if not worry about them, if not shift into full-blown panic about them.
Actually, the time to start was last month, when a 12-game winning streak began trickling into a sub-. 500 record over the next 21 games.
The Hawks spurt just often enough to distract from the slump. One example was Feb. 28, when any apprehension was blunted by a victory over the league-leading Capitals.
I sat in the press box on that day wondering why hardly anyone was concerned that, this victory aside, the Hawks hadn't been the Hawks lately.
I suggested to a colleague that the Hawks don't seem like themselves. Instead, they're more erratic, with higher ups and lower lows.
The response was that this happens every season, that these still are the Hawks and will be when they become interested and engaged as the playoffs approach.
The consensus is that the additions at the trading deadline ensure that the Hawks will be one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup again.
But my inclination is to wonder whether the newcomers will mesh with the leftovers as anticipated.
Maybe this year goalie Corey Crawford will have a terrific regular season and a pedestrian postseason, rather than the other way around.
Maybe Patrick Kane will run out of energy. Maybe Marian Hossa's next injury will come sooner than later. Maybe so many games in so many postseasons finally will exhaust the core.
Right now, patience reigns and the faithful have settled into a superior sense of complacency.
I understand Hawks players saying, perhaps pretending, that it isn't time to panic.
But local hockey fans and the local hockey media should be exploring what's wrong instead of what's right.
In other words, people, get your Chicago on and check for demons in the dungeon.
Follow-up letter to the editor: Yikes!