Blackhawks: Presidents Trophy curse and Elimination Ambivalence

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For the Chicago Blackhawks, or any NHL team, the Presidents’ Trophy is a meaningless piece of hardware. In hockey, the Stanley Cup tournament of elimination is what truly matters.

For whatever reason, the Stanley Cup playoffs lends itself to #8 seeds commonly upsetting #1. We’ve never had a #16 seed beat a #1 seed in March Madness, the national college basketball single elimination extravaganza.


Yet in hockey, in a best-of-seven, it happens all the time. The chances are much lower in a best of seven than a one-and-done. Yet, the odds are defied repeatedly on the ice.

In early April, I asked Susannah Collins why this is:

“As far as lower seeded teams beating higher seeds, I think it’s the nature of the game. If you work that hard all season to secure a number 1 or 2 seed, sometimes there’s an emotional let down afterward. And the lower seeds are hungry to prove they belong in the playoffs,” she responded.

Now that the #1 seed Blackhawks must win twice to avoid elimination (yes, I know it’s not at the hands of an #8 seed, but it’s still an upset), I feel a lot of ambivalence about that. I’m trying to compartmentalize the hockey from the corporate suits maniacally micro-managing it. I may sound a bit histrionic, but hey, this is the playoffs.

On one hand, it’s my team. I am a Chicagoan. So getting bounced early from the playoffs makes me rather sad. And failing to meet expectations pours salt into the wound. Throw in the fact that it’s the Detroit Red Wings who will likely be doing the dismissing, and you see where I’m going with this.

On the other hand, the Blackhawks have grossly mistreated so many members of the local media over in recent years. The persecuted includes both myself and Susannah Collins. And lots of other friends who work within the local sports media. Perhaps they feel the same conflict about the Blackhawks? A similar ambivalence?

Yes, it’s OUR TEAM.

However, it’s also a soul-less, heartless corporation that cares only about profits, not people. If Sears intentionally sold you defective tires would you root for them to beat earnings-per-share expectations? If Cisco Systems messed up your internet service would you hope they consistently “beat the street?”

I’m neither happy nor depressed about the Blackhawks potential elimination tonight. Or possibly in game 7. I am simply conflicted. Usually, whenever one of my teams gets eliminated from the postseason and/or a sports figure I care about gets fired/traded away I play a sad, depressing break-up song. A power ballad of loss with lyrics expressing my melancholia.

But loss isn’t what I feel about the NHL postseason dismissing the Blackhawks. It’s not the kind of break-up where you’re entirely sad to see her leave. It’s the kind of break-up where you’re a little bit sad; but you’re also relieved at the same time. Because you knew this relationship will just never work. She’s too incompatible with you. It’s kind of like the relationship George W. Bush had with Osama Bin Laden. Very adversarial; yet very co-dependent.

Chicago Blackhawks, I can’t live with you. Or without you.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports He’s also an author who also contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter and Yardbarker

Banks has appeared on the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks), like him on Facebook

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