Bobby Hull described the ongoing epidemic of Blackhawks fever in Chicago as the healthiest he has ever witnessed, and we second that notion without reservation. But besides the obvious -- a Stanley Cup victory -- that does not explain fully why this franchise has created an era and aura of such unbridled affection. Thus, we settle on a simple word, respect.
Even in the worst of times, hockey people exude a respect for the game, and by extension, to those who support it. We are not here to diminish other sports, only to state that when it comes to dedication and selflessness -- direct descendants of respect -- the individuals within hockey historically are never worse than tied for first.
It can’t be about the old saw that these guys are all from small towns in Canada, because these guys in the modern NHL hail from everywhere. And their values can’t be traced to modest rewards from humble beginnings, because payrolls have grown markedly since Hull raised the bar by jumping to a new league in 1972 for the then grandiose sum of $150,000 per year.
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