[from The A.V. Club Chicago / May 27, 2010]
The Blackhawks begin their first Stanley Cup Finals series since 1992 Saturday night. Facing the surprising Philadelphia Flyers, who staged a series of remarkable comebacks and upsets to make it this far, the Hawks enter the series as heavy favorites and sit perfectly positioned to bring the Cup back to Chicago for the first time since 1961. At the dawn of this city’s next great sports moment, The A.V. Club finds that foretelling the Hawks’ victory is not an expression of hope, but a statement of fact.
The Hawks are the superior team
The experts may give the Flyers a fighting chance, having taken a tougher road to the finals by knocking off the highly ranked New Jersey Devils and coming back from the brink of elimination to defeat the Boston Bruins. That line of thinking overlooks the fact that the second-ranked Hawks didn’t just beat the San Jose Sharks—the mightiest team in the land—and swept them at that: While the Flyers overcame obstacles, the Hawks became insurmountable. Some will then cite the Flyers’ March 13 3-2 edging of the Hawks as evidence Philadelphia can win this series, but the deposed Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks, and aforementioned Sharks also defeated the Blackhawks during the regular season. Ask those teams what regular season wins prove.
Philadelphia fans don’t deserve happiness
Whether attacking children with puke, giving standing ovations to known animal killers, or stupidly posting photographic evidence of their uninventive postgame crimes online, Philadelphia fans have proven time and again they simply cannot handle the responsibility of cheering for a sports team—and God help them when their teams actually win. Philadelphia is a fine city, one of great history and world-class cultural institutions, and certainly not a place in need of another fan-led, celebratory torching just yet. Philly fans, like it or not, can wait.
This isn’t just about a trophy
Last year was a pleasant surprise, but repeated near-misses are what turn potential dynasties into perpetual laughingstocks. With only a weak opponent standing in their way, the Hawks have a perfectly balanced roster, an unexpectedly fantastic goalie, and a coach who knows how to capitalize on each player’s capabilities. Given the painful personnel decisions looming this summer, there is no more opportune time to win—no better moment to effectively undo former owner Bill Wirtz’ decades of mismanagement. When the Chicago Blackhawks emerge from this series 34.5 pounds of nickel and silver heavier than when they began it, do not be surprised, Chicago: ultimate victory was always the only outcome worth bracing for.