Too Good to be True
You see, the hockey gods hate Blackhawks' owner Bill Wirtz, and rightfully so. This is an old story in Chicago, but I'll rehash some of it because I believe it provides the only possible explanation for what went down this weekend. Everyone knows by now that Wirtz's out-dated refusal to televise home games, coupled with a crappy product, has decimated the Hawks' once mighty fan base. A team that once boasted the loudest crowd in all of sports, now draws seven to 10 thousand fans a night. The absence of half the team's games from television makes it impossible to consistently follow them. But Wirtz's misdeeds extend much further, to allegedly include: repeated antitrust violations, bribery of public officials, stealing from his 'niece's' trust fund, collusion against the NHL players, and the buying of special-interest legislation. Good stuff.
So, the hockey gods hate him. And they should. But we, the few remaining Hawks' fans, suffer for it. As I mentioned, the Hawks were off to a good start this year. So, Friday night, the Blackhawks blew a two goal lead with six minutes to play. To make matters worse, the hockey gods sent Martin Havlat crashing awkwardly into the end boards, where he sprained his ankle. He'll miss two to three weeks. The hockey gods had to do something about Havlat because he was second in the league in scoring with 13 points, an unacceptably high position for a Blackhawk.
But the hockey gods were not satisfied with Havlat missing only a couple of weeks. So Saturday, the Hawks blew another two goal lead, this time to the juggernaut known as the St. Louis Blues. And this time the hockey gods were determined to get it right. Late in the third period, a hit on first line center Michal Handzus tore his ACL and ended his season. Handzus was +4 on the year with seven points. And to ensure that the Hawks wouldn't tighten up on D to cover for the offensive losses, the hockey gods broke Nikolai Khabibulin's finger during warm-ups Saturday night, as well.
So all is right in the hockey world now. Two-thirds of the Hawks' top line have been eliminated, as has their starting goal tender. This pretty much puts an end to any hopes of grabbing one of the last playoff spots. I made plans to go see the Hawks play the Canucks this Wednesday because I made the mistake of getting excited to see Havlat and the Hawks' new, more potent lineup. I should have known better. As long as Bill Wirtz is around to piss off the hockey gods, optimism is a misplaced emotion.