Thank you for putting every home game on television this year. And for doing the right thing by bringing back Pat Foley, one of the best voices in professional sports, to announce the games. He and Eddie Olczyk did a masterful job bringing the action to the television viewers this year.
Thank you for putting the time, effort, and investment into getting Gary Bettman to buy onto the bandwagon. If Bettman hadn't been handed a blueprint for the special season on Chicago's west side, he probably wouldn't have given the youngest team in the league the right to host the Winter Classic.
Thank you for making every home game an experience. Between the alumni signing free autographs in the concourse (including Hall of Famers like Denis Savard and greats like Steve Larmer), to the giveaways and the personalities brought out to drop the puck and shoot it between periods, it was always an event to be at the United Center.
Thank you for making tough decisions. As much heartache as firing Savard created, hindsight now shows that it was the right decision. And as hard as it was to trade James Wisniewski to Anaheim, Sammy Pahlsson was key to the late season run. Everything Dale Tallon and Scotty Bowman did seemed to go right.
Thank you for competing. Last year, the young roster got a small scent of the playoffs. After spending some money on Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet last summer, the team knew what it had to do to get into the dance, and set out on a mission to accomplish their one goal.
Thank you for fighting. I'm not only referring to Ben Eager dropping someone like a bad habit or Adam Burish dropping the gloves against anyone. There weren't many blow out losses this season, largely because of the iron will of the the young roster. They showed, from Opening Night until the final game, that they were never out of it.
Thank you for having the "intestinal fortitude" to put the captain's 'C' on the sweater of then-20 year old Jonathan Toews. He might have been a baby by experience, but he proved to be a leader well beyond his years. In Toews, the Hawks have the centerpiece for their future.
Thank you for sticking with more young studs. Just one season after Patrick Kane was the Calder Trophy winner, the Hawks brought along more young players and committed to them as the future of the franchise. Players like Kris Versteeg and Cam Barker were huge the entire season, but wouldn't have seen as much ice time on many other teams fighting for playoff positioning.
Thank you for the Winter Classic. I was lucky enough to attend the spectacle at Wrigley Field on New Year's Day between the eventual Western Conference Finals opponents, and it was truly a special day. The game was competitive and the atmosphere was electric, despite the global hangover in sub-zero weather. It was one of the best events I've ever attended.
Thank you for gorgeous Winter Classic jerseys too.
Thank you for keeping your cool. There were times in the early part of 2009 when the Hawks, who were the hottest team in hockey in December, looked like they were going to fall apart. Patrick Sharp, Kane, and Nikolai Khabibulin got hurt and the lines started to show holes. The goals didn't come as easily, and neither did the wins. But nobody hit the panic button.
Thank you for finishing. The playoffs were fairly secure with a good amount of hockey left in the season, and this young team could have very easily been happy to get in, accept a low seed, and get bounced early. But this team continued to work hard to get a top-four seed in the Western Conference and eclipse 100 points for the first time since I was in high school.
Thank you for exceeding expectations. Very few people thought the Hawks could handle the pressure of Calgary and the physical play of postseason hockey. But inside the Chicago locker room there wasn't a question, and there were few questions left unanswered after six games. The Hawks soundly beat the Flames, wiping "too young" off their mantle.
Thank you for overcoming. Even fewer people had the Hawks beating the best goaltender on earth, Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks. The Sedin twins were too good, they were too big, and Luongo was just too tough. Well, the Hawks scored more goals in two of the six games than Luongo allowed in all four games of their first round series (five) and came back time after time to win a hard-fought series against a good veteran team.
Thank you for being professional. There were times in the Red Wings series that an implosion could have occurred, but to the Hawks credit, it really only did in one game. The Blackhawks competed in every game, but won against the defending champions, and pushed the Red Wings by playing their best hockey of the season.
Thank you, Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough, Dale Tallon and the rest of the Blackhawks organization for making me, a season ticket holder who is committed to the Indian, feel like, for the first time in decades, the organization is committed as well. The revolutionary turn around from laughing stock to championship contender is inspiring and overwhelming.
Thank you for a wonderful, incredible, special 2008-09 season. Any time, anywhere, there's a beer and "Chelsea Dagger" waiting for you.
Tab Bamford, season ticket holder
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