The sports media and sports fans love to go to extremes when labeling champions. When the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl in January, many Patriots fans called the team the greatest NFL franchise ever. This was complete hyperbole, of course, but the culture of sports would not be the same without fans completely making unfounded statements about their favorite teams. There is nothing wrong with making those statements. Sure, these affirmations are partly meant to enflame the opposition, but mostly it is just followers of teams showing their pride. They are fanatics, after all. Sports fans are inherently delusional, and that is a wonderful thing.
My favorite hockey team, the Chicago Blackhawks, won their third Stanley Cup in six years over the Tampa Bay Lightning. No one is saying the Blackhawks are the greatest team ever (though I have heard no one say they are not), but the word “Dynasty” has been used often today when describing the team. “Dynasty” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a powerful group or family that maintains its position for a considerable time.” To me this implies that one certain group has maintained its power without any rival group also having claim to that position. The Blackhawks are a great team, but they are not a dynasty. The reason for this is because the Los Angeles Kings have also won multiple Stanley Cups during the era the Blackhawks have been winning their own. Being very good and championship caliber for a long stretch of time does not make one dominant. Neither the Kings nor Blackhawks can say they are a dynasty, but as a fan of Chicago I am ok with this.
Would I want Chicago to win every year? Of course! But the core group of Blackhawks are better than almost every other organization every year not only because they have extreme talent, but because they have learned to compete against another great team. The difference between last year’s Lightning team and the Blackhawks came down to the fact that Chicago knew how to win in a close series. Tampa Bay is very good and should return the Finals at some point, they are young and talented. But the Blackhawks have a history of success over the past six years that is founded in the fact that they usually play better as the series goes on. This is what great teams do. They adapt and strive. Chicago has strong leadership in the front office and a great Captain in Jonathan Toews. They do not get stressed when they get behind in a series. In fact, the last two Stanley Cup finals the team has been in, they fell behind two games to one before winning three straight games to win the championship. The character of this team has made them the most successful team of their era so far, and they are still young enough to compete for a few more titles. Most likely the playoff paths for Chicago and Tampa Bay in the next few years will collide for the conference title. This is how it should be, two great teams, teams that would be great in any era improving each other and making the other tougher to defeat in the finals.
This is a wonderful time to be a fan of the National Hockey League. This is an era of highly skilled forwards, like Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin and more, attempting to score against phenomenal goalies like Jonathan Quick, Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist with defensemen such as Duncan Keith trying to help shut the door. Hockey is played at a fast tempo where things can change in an instant. This season’s Stanley Cup final only had one game decided by more than one goal. This was in the final game. And that was the only time any team had led by more than one goal at any point in the series. Hockey is an amazing sport. If you do not already watch it, start. Find a team to like and start enjoying. If you choose to become a Blackhawks fan, know this: the team is not a dynasty, but every year the team is capable of taking home the Stanley Cup. Chicago is a fun team to watch. Chicago has won the championship three times in six years. Chicago is one of the original six NHL teams.
And they have Jonathan Toews.