By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Which Major League Baseball teams would you consider the greatest of all time? The Big Red Machine, the 1929 Athletics with six Hall of Famers, and various Yankees teams might come to mind.
Auerbach’s Celtics, the squads led by Magic and Bird in the ‘80s, and the ‘90s Bulls dynasty. All are probably on your Mt. Rushmore of hoops.
What do all of those teams have in common, though? Superstars and memorable plays and broadcast calls, for sure. But most of all, they all have championships—multiple ones in several cases. We still talk about them in such glowing terms today because of their hardware.
But then take the 2001 Mariners, who had the most regular season wins in MLB history. The 1906 Cubs with the National League record for regular season victories. Those 2007 Patriots that won every damn game except a kind of important one.
They are trivia questions during otherwise dead air on a broadcast or sneaking in a sponsorship. Cute footnotes in the annals of sports history.
The 2013 Chicago Blackhawks could become one of those footnotes even after starting better than any team in NHL history. I hate to crap in the punchbowl, but as the philosopher Marshall Mathers once said, “Snap, back to reality, oh, there goes gravity.” He won a rap battle in Detroit, and Detroit knows its fair share of hockey, so that quote has to makes sense here somehow probably.
Starting off the season as hot as the Hawks have is fantastic, don’t get me wrong. They are making hockey relevant again, both in Chicago and nationally (I heard that even Sportscenter talked about them the other night), and they’re giving local sports fans something to enjoy between football and baseball seasons and the Rose-less Bulls. Certainly Gary Bettman’s undead butt is appreciative of being bailed out of a lingering PR fiasco. A positive story like the Blackhawks is the perfect way to deflect any attention away from the third lockout of his commissionership and the fanbase that is still sore at him.
“It’s nice to get another win and make history,” rookie Brandon Saad said after a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks to set the record for longest point-streak to start a season. “Our group’s had a great year so far, so we never expect anything less. It’s awesome to be part of history.”
The Blackhawks are fun right now, and fun is great so long as the success endures, but not in a college bro ruining everyone’s time by putting $5 dollars into the jukebox to play some annoying repetitive chanting indie pop crap kind of way. What is not fun is being eliminated in the playoffs. And if that happens to the Hawks — if they fall short of anything but walking away in possession of Lord Stanley’s Cup — the fun will be for naught.
The talented newcomer Saad isn’t off base in what he said or in being excited. But savvy veteran coach and facial hair hero Joel Quenneville is a bit more reserved about it all. “The guys should be proud of the achievement, the accomplishment,” he said after beating the Sharks. “I just think we shouldn’t be happy with where we’re at. We just want to keep trying to get better.”
Setting the NHL’s all-time record for most consecutive games to start a season without a loss in regulation is really cool, especially when it is so unexpected. It was assumed that the Hawks would be pretty good this season, but not 15-0-3 good (which with the shortened season qualifies them for home ice through the first round of the playoffs, I believe). But that will all be ’07 Patriots stuff without Marian Hossa making the Cup the third-largest building in Slovakia or Patrick Kane using it as a prophylactic over the summer. The 1979-80 Flyers went unbeaten for 35 straight games—a North American sports record that still stands—but didn’t win a championship. Ask a Philly fan if he or she wears that record as a badge of honor. Ask a member of that team if they’d trade that stat for a ring.
NHL fans still talk about the 2009-10 Blackhawks because of how exciting the team was with its perfect mix of youth and veterans, four guys with 66 or more points (and Hossa with 51 in just 57 regular season games), and Duncan Keith’s teeth (or lack thereof). But none of that would be talked about had that team not defeated the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Impressive stats should be gravy, not the meal. Hot starts like that of the Blackhawks are nice little conversation pieces for the immediate. Championships are conversations forever.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don’t follow him in real life. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.