Bernstein: Hawks Fans In Strange, New Place

The sardonic 1972 movie “The Candidate” ends with Robert Redford’s character elected to the Senate after an intense, whirlwind campaign. Upon realizing his victory, he turns to his consultant and asks, earnestly, “What do I do now?”

A Blackhawks fan can be excused for asking the same question as their season opens tonight.

The sad truth of cathartic achievement is inescapable: when something so special is won, something else — something less tangible than an engraved trophy — is lost. The coexisting feelings are heightened when the goal is enormous, long-sought, and reached faster than even optimists imagined.

The velocity of the Hawks’ resurrection was really remarkable, when you think about it. Just two years ago, Denis Savard was fired four games into the season and Joel Quenneville inherited the talented, callow roster. The concurrent improvement in the team’s marketing strategy emboldened hibernating fans to emerge, proudly challenging the city to pay attention to a team (and a sport) long neglected by the mainstream.

The Winter Classic, the emphatic establishment of star players, the full slate of home games on local television, and the rightful reinstatement of exiled broadcaster Pat Foley put an exclamation point on the post-Bill-Wirtz franchise. Quenneville’s steady hand guided a galvanizing burn through the playoffs that ended in the conference-final loss to Detroit.

The Hawks were back. The Hawks were good. The Hawks mattered.

There is no better time to be a fan then when your team is palpably improving, and a reasonable person can envision a title trajectory. That time had come.

And then just one year ago (!), a group fortified by Marian Hossa (and bursting at the salary-cap seams, ominously) began the campaign that would eventually explode into a storm of fluttering red confetti and Chelsea Dagger. The ensuing joy percolated through the summer and followed the Stanley Cup from tavern to tavern, from Winnipeg to Finland.

But the story of the cup itself is that of the fan’s current reality. That thing has been Everywhere — one almost expects that each next picture via email or Facebook contains some friend, acquaintance or family member posing with it.

It is the nature of things that the extraordinary becomes mundane.

(“Come to the World’s Fair! See the Moving Pictures and the Motor-Carriage!”)

And that’s where the sense of “Ok, now what?” begins to color this season. This is a very good team, perhaps an excellent one capable of repeating. But the defiant fandom clinging to both championship dreams and the chip on their shoulder was forever changed after the victory parade.

Indeed, old-line atavists are increasingly resentful of perceived bandwagoners, and self-defeatingly grumble about success and popularity devaluing their cultish emotional equity while pricing them out of of the building.

The franchise has macroeconomic realities, too. The offseason purge of players, while expected by anybody capable of reading, was jarring. The team lost money last year, at times needing emergency infusions of cash to make payroll. Ticket costs will rise, soon and markedly.

In short, reality of being a really good hockey team at the outset of the next season is not as much fun as a once-in-a-lifetime period of big dreams that saw them quickly come true.

It’s time to wake up.

More from Dan Bernstein
  • mike in davenport

    I don’t think Hawks fans should be finished with the chip on the shoulder. When the team that wins the Stanley Cup loses money, you know you are not the dominant sport in your country. Every hockey fan can wear that chip on their shoulder.

    Too bad that ticket prices will go up, but that’s the reality of a winning team.

  • Denver Smeghead

    WRT yesterday’s comment about the podcasts and iTunes: My browser has never really been able to properly direct links to iTunes to sign up for a podcast.

    So, how did I subscribe to the old/new podcasts feeds?

    If you go to and then see where it says Podcast, I right clicked on it then copied the link location into iTunes. Although, with a slight modification to the url: drop everything after xml.

    So, for B&B:

    The other shows follow the same format, but I think they’re still working on the one for Danny Mac.

    • Bob in San Diego

      Anyone else try this? When I directly downloaded the cast like I did last week, it works fine. When I subscribed to the cast, I got today’s Transition but when I try to play it on my iPod it simply restarts my iPod. Ut-oh!

  • mad as hell fan.....

    Can’t believe hockey season is here already. I don’t think Kaner is recovered from his parade hangover yet let alone all the other ones that piled up on him over the last several weeks. It should be a fun an interesting season.


    Okay, whatever I just typed was wiped out by some magically horrible refresh.

    My thoughts are gone. I’ll try one more time, but I don’t know how much more I can tolerate.

    Anyway, Hockey is still exotic, like a rare animal at the zoo. The last time I saw a grizzly bear at the St. Louis Zoo, all I could see was the top of his head. And, from what I could tell, his head was the size of a beer keg.
    Baseball is everyday, and it’s great, as long as you ignore the evil schemes of Bud Selig to ensure that both New York and Boston make the playoffs every year. There it was. C.C. Sebathia floundering with the strike zone until his team, whose bench would (has) start for half the league bails him out.
    I think the ‘hawks are built better than the ’86–’87 Bears. This, for me, won’t be Ocean’s 12. When Terry Benedict catches everyone in his web and puts them all on the rack. . .

  • Chet's Inflated Ego

    Gotta get used to this new Blog/response format.

    Last year was magic.
    This year is this year, but I expect a fun, entertaining year.
    Hockey hasn’t mattered to me since I was a kid in the Hull-Makita days.


    And there is still a reason to have a chip on one’s shoulder. The league doesn’t get televised (not without angst and drama).
    But, you can get Alabama womping on East Carolina State or mind-scrambling updates for every score. Throw out the record books when Elon plays Iona, I always say.
    You can get just about any niche thing on TV EXCEPT the NHL. MTV, VH1, TLC, I could go on, are nothing more than a carbon footprint at this point.

    • Chet's Inflated Ego

      Elon/Iona……LOL, way to define obscure.


    one more, then it’s time to swab the deck, matie!


  • merklesboner

    How does one sustain a love after the thrill of romance is gone? They grow up and appreciate what they have for as long as they are lucky enough to have it. Blackhawks fans will have the opportunity to grow up and become loyal, understanding and faithful hockey fans. Some are already there. Others have a ways to go.

    BTW, everytime this website gets changed, it worsens and becomes more corporate and harder to connect with, IMHO.

  • Chet's Inflated Ego

    The news that Todd Collins will start for The Bears leave me feeling queasy.
    He is not a decent #2…so I hope The Bears get off the bus running this week.

    I hope this means Cutler is being given the time to heal, not that he is more injured than originally thought.


    I’m not at all surprised that Todd Collins, not Jay Cutler, will start for the Bears at quarterback for Sunday’s road game at Carolina. Here’s hoping that the Bears get a much more prepared Collins than the one that was very rusty and ineffective vs. the Giants on “Sunday Night Football” and we see the Todd that helped the Redskins make the NFL Playoffs in head coach Joe Gibbs’ second tour of duty in Washington. In my opinion, concussions are nothing to mess with, and I think Cutler should also sit out the home game the following week vs. Seattle October 24th at Soldier Field unless he’s at full strength and most important, conscious.

    • Glockster

      I hope so, but I get the impression that Todd Collins’ best game wasn’t that much better than his worst game.

      • Chet's Inflated Ego

        Collins trivia: he holds the NFL record for most time in between starts at QB…more than 10 years.
        The other day, someone said that he ought to be coaching high school…and that was sadly true.

  • larry

    The layout of this new website is horrible and way too cluttered. And this, likewise, is a terribly written and horribly cluttered article obviously written with the thesaurus handy. Stick to the radio, dude.

  • Dr. that doesn't help people

    I’m going to the game tonight! I’ll be the skinny guy getting beat up by puffy red-faced mouth-breathing Avs fans.

    btw, worst new website in the history of new websites – you guys really suck at this.

    • Chet's Inflated Ego

      The blog aspect, though, is an improvement… waiting an hour or more for one’s comments to be moderated.

      The acid test will be the pods (I will need to check that out tonight).

      • SPAULDING!

        Thanks Chet’s I.E.

        Ugh! I believe it’s a felony to not have a reliable backup in the NFL. I have, maybe, an irrational hatred for the Carolina Panthers. They blob on up here, and push us around. . . they got the last nickname available to any sports team (at least, their uniforms aren’t as embarrassing as the other expansion teams’).
        Ten years. Geez. Give him some 50/50 and a lime and he’ll be fine (rimshot).

  • Jon, Montgomery

    but, when you try to post comments, and you’re taking a long time, the page refreshes itself and you lose your comment before you can post it, so you have to be really quick, since i am not, i type my comment on a blank page somewhere else, then copy and paste it here. it’s annoying, but at least i don’t lose my comment,.

    so i’d try that if you’re a slow typer like me.

    • Chet's Inflated Ego

      Good point.
      I hadn’t realized that because usually my posts are more like tweets than real lengthy posts.

  • jaimie in Hoffman Estates

    Yeah, im dissapointed in these new blog formats! Last year was fun, there was no moderation, everything went. But it is good to see some the original bloggers on here.

  • Jon, Montgomery


    somebody help me, my eyes are on fire.

    i just unfortunately saw brett favre’s wang on deadspin.

    i’m gonna have to visit a psychologist by the end of the day or i might go blind.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    but, now the trolls can impersonate us again. not that it could get any worse from the old blog that wasn’t moderated, as there aren’t as many people that post anymore, thanks to the score, they completely ruined the blog.

    • Chet's Inflated Ego

      I hope the “report comment” feature would fix that quickly.
      This new format is more like what most newspapers have…you are registered and the blog is moderated only when there is a problem. If there is a problem, the poster(s) who caused it might be banned.
      I hope that this new blog format will make things more conversational.
      By the way, Jon, better luck today for your Rays.
      I’m rooting for them because I really like Joe Maddon, he is fresh-air in a stale by-the-book job.

  • Denver Smeghead

    Really? Collins will start? I hope everybody has their eye scrubbers handy.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    hey denver, could i borrow an eye scrubber from you? i need to remove brett’s wang from my vision.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    i’ll admit, this new blog is better than the one previous, but i still wish we had the old-old website back, you know which one, the one when i first started posting here, that was one of my favorite websites, but then they changed it, i’ll be fully satisfied when that happens, but i guess if the podcasts and the other quirks from the last one are fixed, i really can’t complain. i just felt sorry for the itunes people who relyed on those to listen.

  • Chet's Inflated Ego

    I’m glad to hear the podcasts work well on this new website.
    I will need to deal with that tonight when I get home.
    Usually I listen to B&B pods on my commute.
    Sometimes I get home in time to listen to the live streaming (while I check e-mail etc.). The “Showbiz Shelly” spots make my ears bleed.

    Forte will need to have an excellent game for the beloved to win this Sunday.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    i only suggest that they bring back the online live studio webcam, that was cool watching the hosts,

    a couple other things too,

    update the ‘score extra points’ thingy more often, it was a good success with the old-old site, and i miss getting cool stuff from it.

    bring back the arcade and ‘girl of the day’

    y’know that stuff made it even more of a fun place to go to on your computer, now it’s just whats left of the blog and the f’d up podcasts.

    bring back the good stuff that made it fun!

  • Jon, Montgomery

    i don’t know whats going to go down with the bears this sunday. it’s going to be hard to predict now that cutler is out. not sure witch way to bet now.

  • jaimie in Hoffman Estates

    I was going to bitch, about how tired i am from going to the Muse/Passion Pit concert last night, but seeing Favre’s wang has giving me an upset stomach.

  • Chet's Inflated Ego

    This seems to be a CBS national format again.
    The old website we all liked was a Score format.
    The one that replaced it in May was a CBS national format that must have been mandated by some national suit. The new (as of yesterday afternoon) website format is also a CBS national approach…same site for WIP in Philly for example.
    So I don’t think we will ever get back the old fan-friendly Score site but this new one is less-worse than the prior CBS approach.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    i don’t think the rays have a shot now that i saw their best starter get the crap kicked out of him in game 1, and cliff lee looked awesome, he loaded the bases in the 1st, but then he said “you’ll get nothing and like it”.

    they can’t score.

    by the way, congrats to roy halladay, i got to watch from the 7th inning on, truely a masterful performance, dominant all night, quite a post-season debut, throwing only the 2nd no-hitter ever in the post-season.

    can you imagine if they had oswalt, hamels, halladay & lee? nobody could beat that 4-man rotation, and they could’ve kept lee if they wanted, just for 1 season because of money issues, but they could’ve, then again, they probably don’t go for oswalt if they keep lee.

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