By Adnan Basic
The Chicago Blackhawks have been the premier sports franchise in the Windy City for more than a decade. The team won three Stanley Cups in six seasons, and were a contender each and every season. The United Center became home of the Hawks, as they continue to sell out the arena for hockey games. However, this year might be the start of the dynasty’s decline.
The 2017-18 season has been a disastrous one for the Chicago Blackhawks. The team made an incredibly promising start when they thrashed the reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins, winning by a remarkable 10-1 scoreline. That would prove to be the highlight of the year, as things only got worse from that point onward. Some lowlights include a 4-0 loss to rivals Detroit, giving away six goals in one game in Colorado and a two three-goal losses to the Minnesota Wild. Now, Chicago found themselves 13 points behind the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Fans may not have expected the Hawks to win the championship, but to see the team fall so far is quite the shock. “I remember being excited for the season to start,” freshman elementary education major Sara Berrum said. “I thought bringing back Sharp could bring back some of the old magic, but it has only made this team older and slower.”
Things have been just as bad off the ice. Even though the Blackhawks defeated the Washington Capitals 7-1, what happened in the crowd brought plenty of negative attention to Chicago. During the third period, Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly was sat in the penalty box.
Unruly Hawks fans began to heckle the player, who is black, berading him with racist insults. At one point, the small group chanted, “Basketball, basketball, basketball,” at the opposing player. Thankfully, United Center security was alerted, and the four fans were removed from the stadium.
The Blackhawks have since apologized for the incident, and permanently banned those fans from the United Center, but it brought an unneeded black eye onto the franchise. “It’s utterly unacceptable,” freshman accounting major Edgar Estrada said. “These fans might be upset at how bad the team has been, but it still leaves them no right to do what they did. I’m happy they won’t be allowed at any more games.”
At this point, it is too late in the season to try and make a playoff push. Some fans have begun to embrace the idea of tanking, the tactic where teams intentionally lose games to try and get the highest draft pick possible for next season, as the Blackhawks are only ahead of seven other teams at the moment.
Sophomore criminal justice major Kyle Novotny felt some fresh blood could reignivorate an older Chicago team. “Maybe some of these older guys need someone to come in with a bit of excitement, to help them kick back into gear again.” Novotny said. “Toews, Kane and the core have gotten used to each other, so someone with something new to add could help to no end.”
With a little bit of luck in the draft lottery, Chicago could be welcoming a highly touted prospect next year.