If you’re new to Wheaton’s campus this year, or even last year, you might find this hard to believe: The Cubs were not the team that got Chicago excited until, well, this past October. Rather, in recent years, the Blackhawks were the team that united the city with a contagiously energetic aura, impressive playoff runs and three championship titles in six years.
Since current captain Jonathan Toews first hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2010, the team has survived numerous changes to its roster to remain a serious playoff contender each year. This season has been no different, and the Hawks were a clear favorite entering the first round that began last Thursday against the Nashville Predators.
Goaltender Corey Crawford, young talent Artemi Panarin and consistently outstanding Patrick Kane were among those who led the team to a 50-23-9 season, only the franchise’s second time to tally 50 wins in one season. The addition of Ryan Hartman and Richard Panik, as well as the return of defensemen Johnny Oduya and Brian Campbell, afforded the Hawks a sustained depth in their roster, which is why many analysts predicted another Stanley Cup victory for the team in 2017.
Yet after falling to the Predators in the first three games of the series, the postseason prospects are looking somewhat dismal for the Hawks. Still, even if they make an early exit in the first round, the Blackhawks are far from finished leaving their mark on Chicago. With an experienced core of players signed for the foreseeable future and promising talent on the rise, the team has the potential to defend their status as one of the most competitive and elite NHL teams for years to come.
Seeing the Cubs win the World Series was certainly a historical moment, but in all of the excitement surrounding Chicago baseball, it’s important not to forget to tune in to a few hockey games when the Hawks return next October — Chicago’s most consistently victorious team in recent memory.