By George Ofman-
(CBS) Bet the streak.
I’ll never forget it. Those three words were hurled at me by the infamous Jimmy “The Greek” in 1975.
For those of you too young to have heard of Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, he was a gregarious if not outrageous and controversial oddsmaker who brought gambling to the forefront of television. He gained prominence and notoriety while a member of “The NFL Today” on CBS with Brent Musberger. I met him as a cub reporter in 1975 while covering the Hambletonian, the most prestigious harness race in North America which then was run at the Du Quoin State Fair. I had the responsibility of chauffeuring Snyder that day, which included making a $500 dollar wager for him on a daily double. It returned $36,000 and he never tipped me. Cheapskate! But I digress. We talked about the Detroit Tigers losing streak which was then in the high teens and he remarked, “Bet the streak”.
It’s with that in mind that I bring up some remarkable streaks including that of the Blackhawks. Will a team come along and break the Hawks record of 24 games to start a season with at least a point? I’d like to think it will be a long time before a team matches it. It’s possible no team will ever do it. There are other streaks that clearly will never be touched, and the first that comes to mind is the one on the North Side.
Yes, Cubs fans, I think it’s safe to say no franchise will ever go at least 104 years, and probably more than that, without winning a championship. There’s Joe Dimaggio’s 56-game hitting streak and UCLA’s 88-game winning streak along with 8 straight NCAA titles.
And let’s not forget the Lady huskies of U-Conn who won 90 games in a row. And how about Edwin Moses winning 122 straight high hurdle races or Wilt Chamberlain scoring 20 or more points in 126 straight games?
But I want to concentrate more on some NHL marks that seem very unlikely – if impossible – to break. The Hawks fell five games short of the Flyers mark of 35 games with at least a point. It was set during the 79-80 season. It sure looks like this one could stand forever. And how about the Winnipeg Jets losing 30 straight games or the Ottawa Senators dropping 38 consecutive road matches? Not sure any team will ever do that again. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 17 straight games while the Detroit Red Wings won 23 in a rwo at home. Doug Jarvis once played in 964 consecutive games. Good luck finding a player who challenges that Iron Man mark.
The Boston Bruins once made 29 consecutive postseason appearances. The Blackhawks just missed that record going 28. Think anyone will win eight straight Norris Trophies as the league’s best defenseman? Bobby Orr did that. And no goalie will come close to breaking Glen Hall’s mark of 502 straight regular season games between the pipes. And you can add another 49 to that during the playoffs. Plus legend had it he vomited before every game. That’s a record no human being would ever want to touch.
One of my favorites belongs to Wayne Gretzky who has many records, including once getting a point in 51 straight games. I was there the night his streak was about to end at 44. It was at the Chicago Stadium on Jan. 11, 1984. Gretzky had been held pointless until two seconds remained. Troy Murray, now the very capable analyst on the Blackhawks radio broadcasts, coughed up the puck as the Hawks had pulled the goalie trying to tie the score. Gretzky scooped it up and scored from center ice into an empty net. Unbelievable. But then again, it was “The Great One.”
The old saying is “records are meant to be broken.”
Some simply aren’t.
George Ofman is a sports anchor and reporter for WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9FM.