In case you lived in a non-sports-filled cave for the last two weeks, you are aware of the fact that the Chicago Blackhawks have won the 2013 Stanley Cup. The win marks the second victory for the Hawks in four years, this time after an incredibly impressive regular season which led them to this point.
How did they do it? Or better yet, how do they keep doing it? What is the secret to the prolonged success of the Blackhawks that has them competing for the Cup each and every year?
It’s very simple: they have a core. A nucleus. A tight-knit group of young players who are motivated by each other and by the game itself to win at all costs.
And what’s really scary is how it’s not just one or two guys like some of the great leaders in the past, but it’s (at least) 5 of them leading the Hawks to amazing regular season feats and the highest peak of victory twice in four years.
Captained by Jonathan Toews, the group includes incredibly talented wingers Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, and the tough and skilled defenders Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. When you have a group of players like that – players that have won in the NHL as well as gold (4 of the 5) and silver (just the lone American, Kane) medals in the Olympics – you’re going to win.
It’s almost as if they don’t need the outstanding supporting cast – which they had helping them in both Cup runs. But that’s the thing – having these guys together, playing hard as a unit each year, not acting selfishly and looking to win as much as they can – that’s what attracts the other players. That’s how you pick up the Andrew Shaws and the Marian Hossas and the Dave Bollands of the NHL – you create an atmosphere of winning.
Sure the players are great – but every group of beasts needs to be tamed, and these two Stanley Cup victories are also vastly due to the incredible coaching of Joel Quennville.
It’s been 4.5 years since Quennville arrived in the Windy City, and it’s been 4.5 winning seasons. It’s not easy to keep all these talented players in check, but maybe the big Q is taking some lessons from another coach in Chicago – the Zen Master, Phil Jackson.
Managing to keep all of his players hungry for victory and preaching the ideal of keeping this core together has helped Quennville to lead the Blackhawks to these two Cup victories.
Besides having a great group of young talent, an excellent head coach, superb player scouting skills in the organization and a hot goaltender (jeez, what more do you need??) the Blackhawks also possessed something this season that was the x-factor in helping them win: tenacity.
While the top players in Chicago may be extremely talented, they’re also pretty young. They’ve won in the past, but lots of other players have championship rings too. What separated this year’s Blackhawks team from the rest in the league (and from itself in previous seasons) was its incredible will to win throughout the postseason.
They made quick work of the 8th seed Minnesota Wild in round 1, ok but that was easy. Then came round 2 and the Detroit Red Wings who took the Hawks to the brink – where Chicago finally won in a decisive game 7. After such a series, many teams would’ve folded against the incredibly tough and gritty Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. In fact, the Hawks almost did.
After three games, the Hawks had just been shutout and were losing the series 2-1. Game four brought an insane overtime victory for Chicago, tying the series at two apiece. Then the tenacity took over. The Hawks won the next two and it was all over before the Bruins knew what hit them.
Folks, the formula doesn’t get much simpler than this: you take a handful of young, talented and selfless players, add a tough, but knowledgeable head coach, sprinkle in some gritty role players and add a dash of will and you have yourself a Stanley Cup Champion.
The Hawks know how to get it done, and so do their fans – who will be expecting similar results next spring after the stellar performance of their club this year. If you think about it, it’s not really a secret to success but more of a recipe for success – and one that has yielded amazing results for the Chicago Blackhawks.