2010 Stanley Cup finals: Blackhawks' brutal run since '61 Cup

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youngkane.jpgEarlier tonight, I took a look at the Flyers’ history since they won a Cup way back in 1975. Stretching back to 1961, it’s not out of order to say the world changed a lot since the Chicago Blackhawks won one. Here’s a timeline of nearly 50 years of heartache.

  • After winning that Cup, the team made it to the Cup finals twice more but couldn’t seal the deal. Still, they were a very competitive team.
  • In 1967, the Blackhawks made one of the worst trades in NHL history. The team sent future goal scoring dynamo (and inspiration for the great paraphrased bumper sticker, “Jesus saves, but Espo puts in the rebound”) Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield to Boston. That move helped fuel that franchise to win a Cup with Bobby Orr.
  • The World Hockey Association lured Bobby Hull away during the 1972-73 season.
  • To go full circle with low moments in trading, the team acquired Orr in 1976. Unfortunately, his knees were basically spaghetti by then.
  • During the early to mid-80s the team featured Denis Savard and generally was competitive but unspectacular.
  • The 1988-89 season was a landmark moment for the franchise, with both Eddie Belfour and Jeremy Roenick playing their rookie years. The team would have some great moments in those years.
  • Including the 1991-92 campaign in which Roenick and Co. made it to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 19 years. Unfortunately, the Mario Lemieux-fueled Penguins swept them from the finals.
  • The team would close out Chicago Stadium by 1995.
  • Chicago eventually traded away Roenick, Belfour and Chris Chelios (not to mention losing Dominik Hasek) as the franchise began its spiral to true doom.
  • By February 2004, things declined so severely that ESPN named the Blackhawks the worst franchise in sports. Ouch.
  • This was an era marred by “Dollar” Bill Wirtz, with the biggest blunder being that Blackhawks home games weren’t televised according to logic that might as well have been listed on the walls of a cave.
  • With new GM Dale Tallon, the team began to slowly get things back together starting in the 2004-05 season, but they had a long way to go.
  • Things started to turn around when the Blackhawks chose Jonathan Toews with the third overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
  • A year later, Chicago drafted Patrick Kane with the top pick in 2007.
  • It is undoubtedly macabre, but if you ask many Chicago fans, they will say the biggest turning point occurred when Bill Wirtz passed away on September 26, 2007. His son “Rocky” allowed the team to, you know, enter the century.
  • The 2008-09 season marked the first time the team made the playoffs in the Kane/Toews era.

So, after all that suffering and disappointment, the Blackhawks are only four wins away from winning a Cup and are undeniable favorites. One thing is clear: fans who stuck around since 1961 are among the most deserving of glory in all of sports.

Fabbri primed to make Blues in significant role

Jason Demers, Robby Fabbri
AP Photo
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With the start of the regular season just around the corner, it looks like Robby Fabbri will not only make his NHL debut on Thursday, but also get meaningful minutes.

During Sunday’s practice the 19-year-old forward played alongside Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz. Nothing is set in stone, but that combination did gel.

“I think we want to look at what the combinations look like now rather than do it at the start of the season,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’re looking at a hard match line and we’re also looking at taking advantage of speed and skill off the rush.

“I really liked what I saw today. I really liked Lehtera’s line, they looked very dynamic off the rush.”

The top line of Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, and Vladimir Tarasenko seems like a good bet to play together for the time being. Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz will stick together on the second line while Dmitrij Jaskin and David Backes can expect to be regular partners on the third unit. The X-factors will be Fabbri and Troy Brouwer as Hitchcock has left the door open to alternating between the two of them on the second and third line depending on the opponent.

Fabbri was taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and is looking to make the leap after a brief stint in the AHL last season. At the OHL level, he’s been a dominate force with the Guelph Storm, scoring 25 goals and 51 points in 30 games in 2014-15.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.