JP Presser: The Two Teams that Occupy 1901 W. Madison St.
Posted 4:27 PM February 10, 2015 by Jarrett Payton
I totally understand that Chicago is a Bears town, but it’s hard not to feel that the two organizations that play their home games at The United Center sometimes get overlooked in the Chi city sports landscape. By just you knowing my last name you can probably guess Sundays, a lil before noon, I’m parked in front of my 62 inch TV. If you talk to any sports fan, they will tell you that all they want for their favorite team is to win. Winning games isn’t the only objective. Winning championships is a big key to keeping those fans happy. I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news but come a little closer, I have to tell you something. No, just a little bit closer, I don’t want to say it too loud. You have to promise not to tell. You promise? Ok, here it is…the Bears haven’t won a championship since 1985. I know its shocking but its the truth Chicago. From 1985 to now the Bulls and Blackhawks have won a combined 8 championships. Michael Jordan and the boys racked up their hardware back in the 90’s and then Coach Q and the Hawks have been a dominating force since the 2009-10 season. The reasons for me writing this is with covering the Bears all season and seeing how everything went south at Halas Hall, I felt it was time to salute two organizations that are trending upward.
I can vividly remember back in the day when my father and I used to go to the old Chicago Stadium to watch the Bulls play. The best part about going to the games with my dad was sitting in the 3 seats on the front row behind the basket opposite the Bulls bench. The question I would always ask him was, “Dad why is it so cold in here?” My dad would look at me and say, “There is ice under the court son, the Blackhawks play here.” Never once did I ask my dad to go to a Hawks game because I came to a conclusion. If the games are not on our TV at home then my dad probably didn’t watch it. I find out 20 some years later that at that time the games weren’t even on TV because of the philosophy of Bill Wirtz. If you don’t put games on TV, they will come. As a kid growing up I can honestly say that we never had a hockey game on in my house. The sad thing is I wish that wasn’t the case. In 2005, when I was playing with the Titans, I was invited to attend my first hockey game to watch the Nashville Predators. I got to the sit behind the glass and lo and behold they were playing the Blackhawks that night. Fast forward to 2009-2010 season, one of my father’s friends called and said he had Hawks tickets for me and they would be at will call. I got to will call and there were no tickets left under my name. After 10 minutes of back and forth to the back office someone that looked important with a nice suit came out and handed me four tickets and said “enjoy.” That night vs. the Sharks and that season would forever change how I viewed the Blackhawks.
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews both began their NHL careers together for the Blackhawks in 2007 and after inking their new deals they will leave together. Kane and Toews are the new age Jordan and Pippen for Chicago fans. I feel that you see a team win a Stanley Cup, lose key pieces to the club and in a short time win another championship on the up swing. The Blackhawks are special! Not only do they get great play out of the “Stars” such as Kane, Toews, Sharpie and Hossa but also from the guys who year after year end up being the finishing touches on their success. I mean, there was a point this year when Antti Raanta and Scott Darling were playing so well while Corey Crawford was out that the question was who is going to be the backup? That’s a problem that most teams wish they had. The man who keeps this all together is Joel Quenneville. The Blackhawks are very lucky to have him coaching this team. He is a coach who commands respect from every player that plays for him. Back in 2008 when Coach Q took over for Denis Savard there was a fear of change. Change is always scary at first but in the long run change lead the Hawks to become an NHL powerhouse that would ultimately win Stanley Cups in 2010 and 2013. Watching this team the first half of the season makes me believe they are capable of winning their third Stanley Cup in six years. Is that what you call a dynasty?
The past year working at 87.7FM The Game (RIP) I was blessed to cover all of Chicago sports. Watching how the Bulls and the Blackhawks have made moves to put themselves in the perfect situations to win has been impressive. The storybook ending seemed far fetched after we all saw D. Rose suffer his second season ending knee injury. Lots of Bulls fans including myself wondered if you could still build around D. Rose. Watching this past free agency the talk was, “Is Melo coming to the West Side?” It was the hope of a lot of Bulls fans out there, but the organization went a different direction. They drafted Doug McDermott with the 11th overall pick in the 1st round, signed Nikola Mirotić and went out and got the veteran Pau Gasol from the West Coast. With the emergence of Jimmy Butler playing at an All-Star level, the future of winning the East and heading to an NBA Finals seems like an reality. With all that being said, it takes a coach to keep this all together and Tom Thibodeau is that guy. People always talk about how Thibs pushes the mins on his players but they also talk about how his players will give him everything night in and night out on the floor. Gar Forman and John Paxson might not see eye to eye all the time with Thibs but Tom seems to keep things calm and cool with his guys in the locker room. The Bulls are sitting atop of the Central Division and look to be making a run at a World Championship. The Bulls just have to stay healthy, get better defensively and, as Tom would say, “Do.Your.Job.”
With the hiring of Ryan Pace and John Fox, hopefully these moves will turn the Bears franchise that we love so much into title contenders in the future. Let’s not forget from the paragraphs above that it starts from the top to the bottom. From seeing some of the other moves the Bears have made I firmly believe they are heading in the right direction. If the Bears need any help seeing what it takes to be heading in the right direction, all they need to do is take a look at the two teams that occupy 1901 W Madison St.