Ahead of the Curve
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It's been many moons since the Chicago Blackhawks last won the Stanley Cup.

It was 1961 and the times, as Dylan was singing, they (were) a changin'.

Ike & Dick were out and Camelot was in at the White House.

The NFL's newest member, the Minnesota Vikings, were beginning to take shape under their sage but prickly first coach Norm Van Brocklin, while Vince Lombardi was putting the finishing touches on the Packer squad that'd give him his first NFL championship.

JFK challenged America's engineers to put a man on the moon as Bronx Bombers Maris & Mantle had their own space race, launching AL home runs at a record pace.

The Black Hawks may not have had the NHL's best record in 1961 but they did have the most balanced line-up.  Veterans like Glenn Hall and Pierre Pilote meshed well with young braves Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull as Chicago out-skated Gordie Howe's Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals, 4 games to 2.

Chicago hockey fans expected the 1960s would be their decade and the Stadium rafters would fill-up with championship banners, but no more arrived.

Like a faithful tribe waiting on the return of Haley's Comet, today's Blackhawk fandom patiently wait for a sign that glory days have returned to the Windy City.

There have been signs before.  The Blackhawks have been to five finals since their last victory dance in 1961, most recently losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992 (0-4).  That raises the question that's on the minds of all Chicagoland: Do the 2010 Hawks have what it takes to capture the Cup as their predecessors did in 1961?  The signs say yes.

W-L records can be deceiving.  But suffice it to say, if Chicago can maintain it's fine record they'll make the playoffs and have home ice advantage for at least two rounds.

They're winning because they're balanced (1961): a mixture of youthful (Toews / Kane) and veteran (Hossa) stars, an offense that compliments the defense and solid play in the net.

In matches against League leaders, Chicago has faired well, going 11-6 (6-4 road).  The break down vs. SJ 3-1; Det 3-1; Pitt 1-0; LA 1-1; Van 1-2; Phx 0-1; NJ 1-0 (DC 0-0).

It's a long season.  One month's favorite can be next month's injury-riddled has-been.  There are a dozen teams (including Detroit) that show signs of being Cup worthy.  Most (east coast biased) media have locked on the Caps or Penguins to win it all.  Good teams. 

But for now, the smoke signals billowing-up from Cook County are easy to read.  They say these Blackhawks are different: they've got moxie and they wan'um Cup.

Steven Keys

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