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THE VERDICT: Crawford in Chicago to serve

The Blackhawks newest assistant coach spoke with Bob Verdi about three decades in the game and what lies ahead in Chicago

by Bob Verdi / Blackhawks.com

Here's a given. As a recently-appointed Blackhawks assistant, Marc Crawford brings acumen, experience and even championship jewelry to Head Coach Jeremy Colliton's staff. 

What we really want to know is this: how was it to have Troy Murray on your bench? En route to a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996, did Crawford have any premonition that Murray would become the popular analyst on WGN Radio's award-winning broadcast team beside John Wiedeman?

During stoppages in play, did Troy just start talking? Reading commercials? Dissecting a scoring play?

  
 

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THE VERDICT: Golf clap for the Blues?

Team Historian Bob Verdi wonders whether it might be time for Blackhawks fans to do the unthinkable

by Bob Verdi / Blackhawks.com

Is it okay now for hockey fans in Chicago to root, sort of, for the St. Louis Blues?

Wait. Please don't leave. This is just a one-timer, and for two weeks max. Then you can all return to regularly scheduled hostility.

It's just that, with the Blues involved in the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins, maybe supporters of the Blackhawks can briefly shelve past grudges and support a vintage rival? It's about pride in the Western Conference, the Central Division, time zone bias. Besides, if the Bruins prevail, it will mean three current champions in one city, along with the Red Sox and Patriots. Is this necessary? That hasn't happened since the mid-1930s, when Detroit's Tigers, Lions and Red Wings ruled simultaneously.

Also, during this past regular season, St. Louis won just one of five games against the Blackhawks. Bragging rights. That matters too, no?

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THE VERDICT: It's slippery out there

Team Historian Bob Verdi reflects on the early excitement of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs

by Bob Verdi / Blackhawks.com

Leave it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for an instant classic to incur a short shelf life because another epic encounter occurs within 24 hours. No wonder the Blackhawks, who surged during the second half of the regular season, desperately wanted to qualify for the postseason.

They too might have been a contender, because it's slippery out there!

Last Tuesday night, the San Jose Sharks trailed the visiting Vegas Golden Knights, 3-0, midway in the third period of their Game 7. Then Cody Eakin cross-checked Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, who tumbled to the ice after a subsequent jolt from Paul Statsny. Eakin drew a five-minute major, and the Sharks feasted on the power play for four goals.

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THE VERDICT: Three is good company

Team Historian Bob Verdi takes a look back at some of Chicago's history at third overall, including their drafting of Eddie Olczyk and Denis Savard

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

With rare exception, they are names to be played later. When the National Hockey League Draft unfolds in Vancouver in late June, rest assured that the Blackhawks, by selecting third, shall choose an outstanding young prospect. Also, feel free to assume that he will require an introduction.

Unlike college football and basketball, whose stars are splashed everywhere on television in the United States, their hockey counterparts do not have that cache. When Jonathan Toews was the third overall pick by the Blackhawks in 2006, he might as well have been John Doe in Chicago. Two local broadcasters pronounced his name "Toes."

The rest is history. Toews, the longest-serving captain in franchise annals, has led the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups, and counting. Also, Toews just finished off his best season at age 30. The Blackhawks rue missing the playoffs, for they were trending upward and could have been dangerous in the wild Western Conference, where there is no overwhelming favorite.

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THE VERDICT: A tale of two seasons

Team Historian Bob Verdi wraps up a 2018-19 season that began with disappointment but turned into a fun playoff race led by resurgent stars and new faces

by Bob Verdi / Blackhawks.com

While some fans might be wondering whether the Blackhawks are a team built for the future or the pasture, there is no doubt in the mind and heart of the talent pool's lifeguard.

"Clear path forward," averred Senior Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman, who will bet the cell phone attached to his ear that next spring shall not result in a third consecutive playoff absence.

His optimism, and the organization's, is based on a resurgence that countermanded a bleak stretch during which musing about a postseason was folly. When the Blackhawks completed a second eight-game losing streak in mid-December, the record was 9-18-5. Rarely has a Christmas break - that Santa clause in the National Hockey League schedule - been so anticipated.

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THE VERDICT: Measured steps for the Espositos as they take One More Shift

Team Historian Bob Verdi writes about Phil and Tony Esposito as they took One More Shift at the United Center on April 3

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

After all their Hall of Fame hockey feats, the Esposito brothers cherish measured steps in their golden years.

"The object was not to fall," said Phil. "And I didn't."

"Been a while since I've laced 'em up," added Tony. "Very nice affair, especially now that we're both safe."

The Blackhawks have done themselves proud with their "One More Shift" celebration of past icons. Wednesday night, before the United Center match against the St. Louis Blues, another sellout crowd got a double scoop when two of the greatest players in National Hockey League history snowshoed into view.

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THE VERDICT: Blackhawks no stranger to crazy finishes

In the midst of this year's playoff race, Team Historian Bob Verdi takes a look back at one of the tightest races in NHL history

by Bob Verdi / blackhawks.com

Every game is a must-win. It seems like the playoffs, but it's still only March. Points are precious, scoreboards are watched, standings are checked. Math hysteria prevails.

This is the situation for these Blackhawks, who have resurrected what once felt like a lost season into a genuine bid for the postseason. Perspiration works, as they exhibited Sunday night with a gritty overtime 2-1 conquest over the Colorado Avalanche. It is a different feeling for a franchise that has won three Stanley Cups this decade, but it is not unique.

Some 50 years ago, the Blackhawks turned their frigid winter into a starring role in what would evolve as the tightest race ever in the National Hockey League. They went from the bottom to the top, an unprecedented feat, yet did not finish in first place until the last night on the regular schedule.

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THE VERDICT: Savard and alumni return to the ice for Legends Cup

Team Historian Bob Verdi converses with Blackhawks Ambassador Denis Savard about the upcoming Legends Cup

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

As a lifelong member of the sedentary society, I always presumed that as a hockey player ages, his legs go first.

Not so, alerts Denis Savard.

"I think it's the hands," says the Blackhawks' Hall of Fame ambassador. "The hands leave you before the legs. You're not as confident in the hands, because they aren't going as fast as your feet, and you wind up wondering where did the puck go? I've seen you play golf. Try to imagine walking 18 holes, then having to make a delicate… you know what? Never mind."

Applying that methodology, it is conceivable that Savard, 58, could embark on his nonpareil spin-o-rama maneuver as he hones in on the goal, only to discover that the puck, having a mind of its own, has abandoned him.

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Remembering Ted Lindsay

The Detroit Red Wings legend and brief Blackhawks forward died at the age of 93 and will be remembered for his contributions to the game

by Bob Verdi & Harvey Wittenberg / blackhawks.com

Ted Lindsay, a Hall of Fame winger who played with the Blackhawks during the latter stages of his career, has died. He was 93.

Lindsay earned the Art Ross Trophy as the National Hockey League's leading scorer in 1950, when he won his first of four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings. Skating on the left side of center Sid Abel and right wing Gordie Howe, Lindsay was part of the feared "Production Line". Though he had a moderate frame, Lindsay was a fiery sort. Thus, his nickname "Terrible Ted."

In the late '50s, Lindsay explored the possibility of forming an organization on behalf of NHL players. Jack Adams, who ran the Red Wings with an iron hand, did not take kindly to the maneuver. Lindsay was stripped of his captaincy, then traded to the Blackhawks in 1957 with goalie Glenn Hall, who likened the move to Chicago as "being sent to Siberia.

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THE VERDICT: No expiration date on character

Team Historian Bob Verdi writes about Chris Kunitz, who will play his 1,000th NHL game on Thursday against the Devils

by Bob Verdi / Team Historian

Chris Kunitz, 39, knows that the end of his stellar career is near, but exactly where the finish line might be suddenly requires some thought.

For long stretches this winter, it surely seemed that the Blackhawks would be on the outside looking in at the playoffs. They still aren't there, but with a seven-game winning streak, they've got their noses pressed against the glass.

"Could we be dangerous?" he said. "We have what it takes, I think. We have depth. We have goalkeeping that stole us a few points when things weren't going so well. And we're growing our game as we go along."

Obviously, the Blackhawks possess a number of veterans who know what it takes, Kunitz being a recent addition to that honor roll. He's earned four Stanley Cup rings, all tucked away safely, as are memories and friendships for a lifetime.

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