Blackhawks should be appreciated more than other champions because of league they play in
Elise Amendola, ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win in sports.
Cliché? Probably. But how do you think clichés become clichés?
What the Chicago Blackhawks have done in the last four seasons of the NHL is already appreciated by hockey fans (unless you're a Flyers or Bruins fan), and should be by the rest of the sporting world.
Because the makeup of the game, in addition to the salary cap and free agency, makes it hard to build a dynasty or even a mini-dynasty like Chicago has.
Hockey is the greatest example of a team sport we have. You need so many different kinds of players in order to win, and that's such a hard thing to assemble, especially with monetary restrictions like the NHL has.
In football, the teams that frequently play in the Super Bowl usually have one of the best quarterbacks in the league. If you have a Brady, Rodgers, Roethlisberger or the Mannings on your team, you have a great chance at winning it all.
The top quarterbacks are always the highest-paid in the sport. That's not always the same for the top centers in the NHL.
Another cliché is that the quarterback is the most important position in American sports.
Again that cliché became a cliché because a quarterback can easily dictate the future of your team.
In hockey, the closest example to having one position set your team up for success is the goalie, but it doesn't have the same impact as a quarterback. This year's Vezina Trophy winner for best goalie was Sergei Brobovsky, who was on a team (Columbus) that failed to make the playoffs. It shows just how team-oriented hockey is.
In basketball, it's all about the star players because it's a star-driven league. Every NBA Finals since 1999 except for one has had either Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan or LeBron James in it. The one that didn't had Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki. Basketball, even more than football, is the sport in which one player can dominate the outcome of a game and control a franchise. It's why some people love the NBA and some people hate it.
But the game of hockey isn't controlled by one player on the ice. You need goal-scorers, playmakers and grinders. You need offensive defensemen and defensive defensemen to succeed. You can't rely on one single player to achieve success. (Ask Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals about that.)
And that's exactly what the Blackhawks have built, starting with drafting Jonathan Toews in 2006 and Patrick Kane in 2007.
Those two are the cornerstones of the franchise, and will be there for a long time to come, along with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp.
But after winning the Cup in 2010, their first in 49 years, the salary cap caused Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman to get rid of eight players (including both goalies) that were on their team. A year after winning the Cup, four more players were shipped off. Only eight players from the 2010 Cup-wining team suited up for the 2013 Cup-winning team.
And that's why it is so amazing what Chicago did this year, and should be noticed even by fans who don't know the difference between a puck and a duck or a red line on the ice versus the red line on TRAX.
They opened the season with 24 straight games without a regulation loss. (In the NHL, you still get one point if you lose in overtime or a shootout, and two points for any kind of win.) They became the first team since the 2008 Detroit Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup and the President's Trophy (awarded to the team with the most points) in the same year.
The man who scored the Cup-winning goal this season for Chicago, Dave Bolland, was a grinder who's not expected to contribute offensively. Their goalie wasn't even good enough to be their backup in 2010.
In hockey, every ounce of your roster needs to be complete, which is why it's so rare to have success like Chicago has built.
While hockey may not have the glitzy stars like basketball and football, or the wildly expensive contracts like baseball, it's a sport that should be appreciated more, and the Blackhawks are a team that can provide a start.
If you're not an everyday hockey fan, it's time to take notice.
Michael Smith (@smithmichael8) is an intern in the news section of DeseretNews.com. A 2013 graduate of the University of Utah, he will be attending Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism in the fall.
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