Pride, thy name is Havlat

11Dec06

Long-time blog readers here will know that I grew up a Blackhawks fan until it was beaten out of me by the Wirtz family’s stupidity and cheapness. There was something true and proud about the Hawks sweater worn by Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick, Dirk Graham, Tony Amonte, Michel Goulet, etc. Back in 1996, I felt that the only team that could take on the Avalanche during the playoffs was the Hawks — this was the team where Roenick, Amonte, Chelios, Gary Suter, Ed Belfour were all in their prime. This was also the playoffs of Patrick Roy‘s infamous “rings in the ears” comment.

I haven’t given the Hawks much more thought than say, the Islanders, for about five years ago. Even their one season when they actually made the playoffs, it was hard to root for them again. I cheered for Steve Sullivan and Tony Amonte as individuals, but the Hawks’ logo was tainted by the idiocy of the Wirtz family.

So I’m as shocked as anyone to report that I’ve watched a few Hawks games this season and the reason for this is Martin Havlat. During the Hawks’ terrible spin, the team was damn near unwatchable, but during the beginning of the season and the past two games since Havlat returned, Chicago’s been actually kinda entertaining. Even stranger, Havlat is someone whom I think could actually inspire some disgruntled Hawks fans to return.

I don’t think I could ever have the passion for the Hawks as I did growing up, but I got a sense watching Havlat dive for pucks, blow by people on the rush, and just deke the crap out of people that this was someone that Hawks fans could actually take pride in. It’s not just his skill, it’s the fact that he seemed to be going balls out the whole time for Chicago. That combination of skill and tenacity hadn’t existed in the United Center for a long, long, long time, and while the atmosphere of the UC still looks like the dying days of World Championship Wrestling, I get the sense that Havlat can finally be the person to pull the Hawks out of their doldroms.

Of course, this means that Bill Wirtz will find something wrong with Havlat halfway through his contract and ship him off for a bag of pucks and a 9th round pick…but until then, this jaded and very bitter ex-Hawks fan has his interest piqued…just a little bit.

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