Hockey is my favorite sport. The Flyers are my favorite NHL team. I live in Philadelphia. (This last statement has been true for almost 3 years.)
However, I need to rant about my second favorite nhl team in a former "hometown": the Chicago Blackhawks.
WTF? What did they do to merit the absolute travesty happening there?
Not familiar with the story? Sad facts:
(1) As an Original 6* team, the Blackhawks are an NHL institution.
(2) Thanks to the 'Hawks, we can celebrate Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Pierre Pilote, Glenn Hall, Phil & Tony Esposito, Pat Stapleton, Bill White, Denis Savard, Steve Larmer, Tony Amonte, etc. In short, many of the greats played there.
(3) Current owner Bill Wirtz does not allow home games to be shown on local stations.
(4) Wirtz raised ticket prices at the same time.
(5) The 'Hawks scrapped fan-favorite announcer Pat Foley in 2006, after a 25-year run.
Add up # 3 - 5 and let # 1 and 2 stick in your craw and you begin to understand why Chicago hockey fans have dumped "Dollar Bill" Wirtz and the 'Hawks for the city's AHL team, The Wolves. (It doesn't hurt that Pat Foley can be heard at their games and they've used the marketing slogan "We play hockey the old-fashioned way: we actually win.")
The impressive part is that traditional Chicago hockey fans know they're being alienated by the management. Sadly, there are newer (read: young) fans who don't really know that Chicago has an NHL team. Can you blame them? The team missed the playoffs in 1998, the first time in 29 years. (There was a forgettable 2002 return, however the the Blackhawks lost in the first round to the blues.)
No offense meant to the sun-belt and non-tundra expansion teams, but you guys, sink or swim. The NHL is fairly hands-off when it comes to team management. However, I personally can't stand to see this happen to an Original 6 team in the NHL.
Makes me wish that someone in charge had the cojones to take the team away from Wirtz, reinstate local game coverage on Chicago stations, and reunite adoring 'Hawks fans with the black and red.
I mean, isn't it bad enough that they have to deal with the Cubs, the White Sox, the (non-Jordan) Bulls and - up until last year - da Bears?
Of course, this is all the opinion of a former Chicago-land resident who is a Philadelphia Flyers fan...and if there's one thing Philly sports fans learn early, it's stick with your team no matter what.
*hockey school: Ignoring the fact that the Original 6 is a misnomer, the list is rounded out by the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
P.S.: Mentioning Jordan reminds me of another thing...
STOP SAYING WAYNE GRETZKY WAS THE MICHAEL JORDAN OF HOCKEY. Michael Jordan was the Wayne Gretzky of basketball.