Separating myth from reality in this series for 'pundits' and fans is going to be interesting.
First off, who expected the Blackhawks to be here?
How about...NOBODY...except people who KNOW this team.
So...whatever the Hawks achieve...is a net bonus. They have made themselves, their organization, the Black Hawks legends, and their stalwart, loyal, long suffering fans, proud.
A great ride...and not over yet.
OK...about the series.
Many, many factors to consider...but this has the potential to go seven, and go either way. I've watched both of these teams assiduously throughout the year, and there is no doubt in my mind about that.
May the best team win.
And what truly great teams they are...
Both teams have reached into their rich legacies to create a Championship culture that inspires the players.
They know, once a Stanley Cup Champion, always a Champion. The spirit of Champions keeps you hungry...and humble.
The members of this year's teams look back at the achievements of those who have come before them...and they know that to be a Blackhawk or a Red Wing, is more than special.
As the cliche goes, but oh so true--they play for the symbol on the front of the jersey, not the name and number on the back.
I believe, as many do, that Detroit has the finest system-oriented team in the NHL. They ARE the benchmark for organizational excellence, and the integration of their talent into a superbly efficient hockey machine is unparalleled.
The Blackhawks, thanks to the vision and diligence of Dale Tallon--and the support and efforts of the entire Hawks executive--have looked at Detroit (and Anaheim, by the way) as that benchmark and said: "What do we need to do--and need to be--to beat the best of the best?"
The answer is a team as skilled as Detroit, and as physical as Anaheim.
And let's be honest...the Wings only just pulled it out in the battle against the Ducks.
If one looks objectively at each team, the matchups at each position, and the key factors, lead to a logical conclusion that this will be an excellent and very competitive series.
The Master Meets The Student? An interesting metaphor, and not inappropriate.
The Old Guard Vs The New Wave? Could be.
The Wings have experience and discipline on their side...the Hawks have the strength and boldness of youth.
Each team has its weaknesses, and the ability to exploit and capitalize on those weaknesses will determine the outcome.
Even the most diehard, blood red Wings fan will admit that. They are talking about the Hawks on their message boards right now...and they know Chicago is an underdog that must be taken seriously.
The usual bluster notwithstanding...and it will come from both camps. After all, these teams go back to 1926 together.
Probably the greatest rivalry in the NHL...ever.
And there are interesting parallels between this series...and the Wings-Hawks Cup Final in '61...
Intangibles? You got 'em.
Wings fans like to talk about how Detroit has the ability to 'raise its game'.
And we have seen that the Chicago Blackhawks--in their end of season push, home and home victories over the Wings, and dramatic, gruelling series against Calgary and Vancouver, arguably the toughest opposition in the West--have also found the way to raise their game.
Scotty Bowman is another element that favours the Blackhawks. Scotty knows more about winning Stanley Cups than any coach in NHL history. He sees the game in a way that is extraordinary.
He knows the Wings. He helped build them.
And now he's helping to build the Blackhawks.
If the Hawks can steal the Wings' lunch at the Joe on Sunday... cool) it all gets VERY interesting.
Here Come The Hawks.