A Hat Trick: Three Values Learned from Watching the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Tomorrow, hundreds of thousands — make that millions — of Chicago Blackhawks fans will flood the downtown area for a parade and rally to celebrate a truly remarkable achievement: The Chicago hockey franchise winning the 2013 Stanley Cup.blackhawks

I’m certain many members of the Blackhawks faithful will don their long-sleeved team sweaters emblazoned with the name of their favorite player on the back.  This, even though we’re three days away from July.

I won’t attend, but will be there in spirit; something to do with avoiding crowds. However, I did attend the 2010 celebration.  Read about it here.

In a June 12 post, I predicted the outcome:  The Blackhawks would win Lord Stanley’s trophy, certainly the coolest in all professional sport, in six games against the surging and powerful Boston Bruins.  Hey, I was right!

Stanley CupAlong with the joy of cheering on to victory the storied hockey team from my city, I gained the following by following the Blackhawks through the playoffs:

  1. Perseverance Pays Off.  The Stanley Cup playoffs, like life for most of us, are filled with highs and lows — only done on ice by tough men on skates holding sticks while chasing a hard rubber disc.  Down 3-1 in the second round, the Blackhawks roared back to defeat the Red Wings, then the Kings and finally the Bruins. They didn’t give up, even after key players like captain and center Jonathan Toews was hacked and speared and cross-checked mercilessly at times, or when they couldn’t capitalize on power plays. They played through these adversities; they persevered and they won.
  2. Role Players Count.  Epitomized by players like Andrew Shaw, a 21-year-old winger with more guts than brawn, and Michal Handzus, a wily, veteran center, some members of the roster were on the ice to fill a role.  They may not get the glory afforded the team stars, but their very presence, grit and determination to fill that role made them indispensable and critical to the team’s success.  In sports, and perhaps in life, too, role players are like Tonto: There would be no Lone Ranger without them.
  3. Leaders Lead Best When It Gets Tough. During the quest for the Cup, the Blackhawks were bashed for losing faceoffs,  not scoring on power plays and for failing to push back hard when being battered by the usually bigger opposing players. That led to criticism of Coach Joel Quenneville, Towes and defensive leaders like Duncan Keith.  But over 21 playoff games, these leaders were calm, steadfast and assertive when responding to media questions. They lead through wisdom and example.

Now it’s time for a virtual faceoff:  What did you learn from watching the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run?

Reflections of a Chicago Blackhawks Fan on the Eve of the Stanley Cup Finals

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

A few hours from now, Chicago’s NHL franchise will square off against Boston’s NHL franchise in a series that will determine who claims hockey’s greatest prize — the Stanley Cup.  Yes, it’s a battle between two of the original six teams that epitomized the very best in the sport for the past 80 or so years.

Like all of the major professional sports, the National Hockey League started started small — very small, in fact — then grew to build revenue and reach a broader market.

Will Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews get to hoist the Cup again?

Will Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews get to hoist the Cup again?

Of course, I’m rooting for the Blackhawks, a team I have followed (albeit mostly from the proverbial “virtual cheap seats” better known as television and radio) off an on since I could remember.  Growing up, my brothers, my Polish-born grandmother and I watched the Hawks on our black and white TV set Saturday nights while our parents went out for a night on the town.  The play-by-play guy was the legendary Lloyd Pettit, and I can still hear Lloyd bark in rapid-fire bursts about the action taking place on the ice.  No, we didn’t have high-definition, wide-screen television with theater-quality sound; but we had Lloyd and our imaginations to provide some realism.

My grandmother (they were known as “Busha” in the colloquial) didn’t really understand the game that well; but she liked Hawk star center Stan Makita because she thought he was from the old country.  Actually, Makita was originally from what then was called Czechoslovakia, but like most pro players grew up in Canada.

The stars of those early1960’s Hawk teams — most notably Bobby Hull, The

Certainly one of the coolest crests (don't call it a logo) in all of professional sport.

Certainly one of the coolest crests (don’t call it a logo) in all of professional sport.

Golden Jet — equaled baseball players in status to me and my friends, as we did our best at hockey played on a frozen section of Eckhart Park around the corner from our home on Walton Street.  Everyone followed the Blackhawks and played hockey, from Polish-American kids like me to Izzy Molina, who was from Puerto Rico.

For years one of Chicago’s strongest sports franchises based on fan support, the Blackhawks sunk hard and fast in the first decade of this century. Attendance at home games plummeted; and the team lacked focus, leadership and wins.

New management, better players and certainly outstanding marketing and public relations efforts — surely public relations played some role — have brought the team back to the pinnacle of hockey.   In a post from 2010, I chronicled some thoughts of that magical year, when the Blackhawks won the Cup for the first time since 1961.

My prediction: Blackhawks in six.  And, that ain’t just a bogus line of PR.

Your prediction?