In 1961 John F. Kennedy was the president of the United States of America. The Berlin Wall is being built and the Vietnam War begins. Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Ben King's Stand By Me is the top song and West Side Story is the top movie. The Chicago Blackhawks are the Stanley Cup champions, the top team in a six team National Hockey League.
A lot has changed since 1961. But for the first time in 49 years the Chicago Blackhawks are once again the Stanley Cup champions!
Here's some news and notes from the Stanley Cup finals:
Some thoughts on Game Six:
- What a fantastically entertaining hockey game that was. My heart was racing by the end of the third period and I had no real interest in who won. I just wanted to see some great hockey, and that was fully accomplished in game 6.
- That being said, you hope the overtime winner is a good goal. It was, although Michael Leighton should have had that shot. But the resulting confusion as to where the puck was, the classic ending with the epic call to finish this great was lacking. But I'm sure no Chicago fans care about that.
- For the record, here was Jim Hughson's awkward call: "...to the net....and he stopped it....where's the puck...it came loose on the other side...It's over! Patrick Kane has scored the goal! The Chicago Blackhawks are Stanley Cup champions!"
- When no one knew where puck was, I immediately started looking for Chris Pronger.
- You have to feel terrible for Leighton. He tried so hard, and you know there was a time when only he (and Patrick Kane) knew where that puck was. He must have been praying that puck would slide just that much more under that white padding and never be found.
- The win was Chicago's first win in Philadelphia since 1996!
- Jonathan Toews is 22 years old. He has won the World junior gold, World Championship gold, Olympic gold, the Conn Smythe trophy and the Stanley Cup. One word - wow! He is the second youngest captain of a Stanley Cup team in NHL history (behind Sidney Crosby in 2009).
- Toews tied a Blackhawks franchise record in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs with 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 22 games, matching the total of Denis Savard (9-20-29) in 1985. Toews' 22 assists is a franchise record, eclipsing Savard's 20.
- Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook join Brendan Shanahan, Steve Yzerman and Ken Morrow as only guys in hockey history to win Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold in same year.
- You've gotta feel good for Marian Hossa. After losses in the previous two Stanley Cup finals, you almost felt sick after seeing the crazy bounce off of Hossa for Hartnell's tying goal late in the third period. What a tragic figure Hossa would have been cast as had the Flyers came back to win the Cup after that.
- Kudos must go out Patrick Kane. I've been critical about his big game presence, but he came out with three points in game 6 - 2 assists and the Stanley Cup winning goal!
- Toothless Duncan Keith was the best Hawk of the final series in my opinion. He is so calm under pressure. He really is the next Scott Niedermayer. I suspect he'll be spending a lot of time in the dentist chair soon, though.
- Full credit also goes out Antti Niemi. He struggled at times in the finals, but he made some big saves. None bigger than late in the third and into the OT after Philly tied the game at 3. He is the first Finnish goalie to lead his NHL team to the Stanley Cup.
- Hockey players always amaze me. Andrew Ladd was playing the end of these playoffs with a fractured shoulder.
- At 36 Stan Bowman is the youngest GM to ever win the Stanley Cup, besting Conn Smythe from 1932. Did you know he is named after the Stanley Cup?
- Claude Giroux and Ville Leino were something else. The future looks bright in Philadelphia. They gave Chicago a better run than I expected. The clock always strikes 12 on Cinderella, though.
- The Flyers' top line of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne combined for a total of only six points and were minus-21 in the series.
- What happens with goaltender Michael Leighton now?. He was spectacular during the season, and at times during the playoffs. But at other times he looked very much like what he is - a career minor league goalie. Do the Flyers or any other NHL team give him big money? Conversely, If the offer is there, does Leighton cash in the highest bid, or stay in Philadelphia and hope his new-found success continues?
- Although he was terrible in game 5 and average in game 6, Chris Pronger really impressed me in these playoffs. He owned the Hawks in the first four games. It was not until the Hawks put their top three gunners (Toews, Kane and Byfuglien) on three different lines that Pronger was rendered ineffective. Chicago's depth was too much, and Pronger couldn't play all 60 minutes.
- Danny Briere should be noted as a great playoff performer. With 3 points in the final game, Briere actually surpassed Toews to win the post-season scoring title with 30 points.
- It's official. Rob Blake will retire this summer.
- News out of Russia - 47 year old Sviatoslav Khalizov has died. He played with Soviet Union's 1989 world championships gold medal team & SKA Leningrad. No link, but excellent source told me.
- United Arab Emirates defeated Kuwait in Gulf Ice Hockey Championships. Ali Al-Mazrouei and Joma Al-Dhaheri both had 2 goals each in the 4-1 win. Damn, I got that prediction wrong too! Oman and Saudi Arabia also sent teams, with Bahrain and Qatar expressing interest in playing next season.