After watching the Terps fall to North Carolina and Villanova whip 5th ranked Georgetown I spent some time with an old friend Wednesday night. Hockey was a big part of my life growing up in Northern Michigan, my older brother was a hard skating forward and I spent a lot of cold winter nights watching the Marquette Iron Rangers battle Chicago, Milwaukee, and the hated Green Bay Bobcats. Weird, me and most of my friends grew up loving the Green Bay Packers and hating the Green Bay Bobcats. We had some crazy hockey nights at the ice cold Palestra.
Geography and time has pretty much put hockey in the rear-view mirror but I’ve found myself back at the blue line the last couple of weeks thanks to the Chicago Blackhawks. Back in the day my Blackhawks had guys like Bobby and Dennis Hull, Stan Mikita, Bill White on the blue line and Glenn Hall and Tony Esposito between the pipes. I couldn’t tell you much about these Chicago skaters other than they refuse to lose!
The latest drama, with 49 seconds left in the 3rd period Daniel Carcillo scored the game winner as the Blackhawks downed Colorado 3-2. In their first 24 games (half of this shortened season) Chicago hasn’t lost after 3 periods. They’ve scored a point in all 24 games the best start in NHL history. Going back to last season they’ve scored a point in 30 straight games. They’re 5 games away from tying the 1979-’80 Philadelphia Flyers record of 35 consecutive games with a point. Here’s how the Blackhawks record start compares with the greatest starts in the other major professional sports.
In the NBA, the best start ever comes from 93-94 Houston Rockets lead by Hakeem Olajuwon. The Rockets 15-0 lift-off propelled them to the NBA Championship downing the Knicks in 7 to take the title. The 1971-’72 Lakers have the NBA longest winning streak by far. This team lead by Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, and Gail Goodrich won an amazing 33 consecutive games. A young Pat Riley was part of this team.
In MLB the daily grind with a new starting pitcher each game may make it tougher to go on that long run. Best start goes to the ’82 Braves and ’87 Brewers who both won their first 13 games. The 1984 Tigers didn’t win ‘um all but they were red hot with a 35-5 start. The 1935 Cubs won 21 straight but did it in September not at the start of the season.
You might remember the 1988 Orioles set the standard for losing to start a season with an 0-21 train wreck. It was the season from hell. Manager Cal Ripken Sr. was fired after losing the first 6 games of the season, Frank Robinson took over and lost 101 more, before the year ended the team owner and trainer had died.
The NFL has had 2 teams with perfect regular season records. Don Shula’s 1972 Dolphins won all 14 regular season games and 3 in the post season for a perfect 17-0. The 2007 Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season and were a David Tyree helmet catch away from 19-0 before the Giants spoiled the fun and upset New England in Super Bowl XVII. All this is history, what the Blackhawks are doing is right here, right now. They’ve got me hooked and it’s nice to spend some time with an old friend.