Friday, May 15, 2009

Kane Not Inclined To Stand Pat vs. Wings

Chicago Blackhawks make their return to Western Conference finals, where they will face reigning Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. Above, Chicago's team leaders: captain Jonathan Toews (19) and last year's Calder Trophy winner, Patrick Kane. (Photo courtesy of ESPN)

It's been forty-eight years since the Chicago Blackhawks last won the Stanley Cup, and they haven't been relevant in the National Hockey League since the days of Ed Belfour, Jeremy Roenick, Chris Chelios and Tony Amonte in the mid-'90s. That is, until now.

After a long wait, the team best known for being the inspiration for the fictitious "Stan Mikita's Donuts" shop in the movie "Wayne's World," the Blackhawks are just four wins away from advancing to their first Stanley Cup Finals since they were defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992. Ironically, the Penguins are also in the conference finals in the Eastern Conference, facing off against the Carolina Hurricanes as they look for their second consecutive Prince of Wales Trophy as the Eastern Conference champion.

The lone Original Six team remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Blackhawks are also the one team left that has not been to a Cup Final since the lockout; never mind the fact that none of the current roster was even born the last time Chicago saw Lord Stanley's Cup in 1961. Led by Patrick Kane, whose hat trick Monday night iced the Blackhawks' Western Conference semifinal series against Vancouver; along with captain Jonathan Toews and free agent acquisition Brian Campbell, Chicago looks to return to the promised land and revitalize a long-suffering and devoted fan base, starting Sunday at the Joe Louis Arena for Game 1 against the Detroit Red Wings, who by the way are the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

Kane spoke on Versus Tuesday night during Detroit's game against the Anaheim Ducks, and said that the Blackhawks had their advantages against whichever team they ended up facing: Detroit since Chicago would be playing relatively close to home and not having to fly out to the West Coast as they had to against Calgary and Vancouver, and Anaheim for home-ice advantage, as the first two games of the series would be played at the United Center had the Ducks closed out Detroit in Game 7. However, growing up in Buffalo, last year's Calder Trophy winner said he "hated" Detroit sports teams while playing in Michigan before being drafted first overall by Chicago in 2007.

"Actually, I hated the Red Wings and Pistons, and that's all I heard about," Kane told the Detroit News. "Detroit was fun to watch, but I was a big Sabres fan." In a matchup where old school and new school will take to the ice, both teams will be fun to watch, and Kane agrees.

"We're a young team, but we're looking forward to the challenge and see if we can pull something off."

Game 1 between the Blackhawks and Red Wings takes place Sunday night at the Joe Louis Arena.

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