A Historic Fight, Seattle’s Century Wait, Chicago’s Attendance, and Other Blackhawks Bullets
We were this close to having all four playoff games go to overtime on Saturday. The day opened with a matinee that went to a second overtime — in Winnipeg, which was amazing — and ended with the defending champs pulling away with a big third period in Seattle. There were some fascinating moments across the board. Before we talk yesterday, here’s the Sunday slate:
- The Toronto-Tampa game was wild from the jump. Guys were returning from injuries, others were getting hurt, all while a fantastic hockey game was playing out between two teams that really don’t like each other. Like, from the top of the organizations to the players on the ice — the best players, in fact. When Steven Stamkos dropped the gloves with Auston Matthews, it was the first time in NHL history that two players who had scored 60 goals in a season fought each other.
- Oh, and my comment about “from the top of the organizations” includes the GM of the Leafs, who was seen chirping the fans in Tampa. What a time to be alive!
- Our old friend Sam Lafferty received a bill in the mail from the league on Sunday morning.
- The game between the Kraken and Avalanche was marvelously entertaining. Colorado sprinted to a 3-1 lead that evaporated when Seattle scored twice in 19 seconds in the middle of the second period. The Avs then scored three unanswered in the third period to take a 2-1 series lead. I’m glad the fans in Seattle saw a fun one because they’ve waited a looooong time for playoff hockey in their city. More than 103 years, to be exact.
- Ben Pope did a lovely job tracking the Blackhawks’ attendance the entire season — I referenced it here and in our postgame thoughts frequently throughout the year. Yesterday, he gave us the end of season breakdown of what it all means. And how the Blackhawks as an organization have developed a predictive model that estimates how they’re going to do in the “Butts in Seats” department. This is a really good read.
‘‘It’s almost like a ticker for the stock market,’’ Blackhawks president of business ops Jamie Faulkner told Pope. ‘‘It’s constantly taking in information — because things are coming on and off the secondary market or the primary market, or season-ticket holders are swapping in and out of tickets — and it’s learning what’s important and what’s not.’’
- The only caution I would have regarding “what’s important and what’s not” in the coming year is that the carrot of seeing 19 or 88 before they leave is no longer there. Winning is going to matter again to fans paying to watch — and soon. Now that every link to the dynasty teams are gone, my guess is the hype around the experience at the United Center will also take a hit. There were so many people I talked to this season at games who told me they “wanted to get to at least one game before Toews/Kane were gone” that might not pay for the chance to see Seth Jones, Tyler Johnson or Connor Murphy with the same passion. With all due respect to those guys and everyone else who’s on the roster this season.
- May 8 is the next date on the calendar that we have to care about as Blackhawks fans. How long is the wait? Not as long as Seattle had between home playoff games, but it still feels like it’s a ways away.
- In roughly 16 days, when we know where the Blackhawks’ first pick will fall in the 2023 NHL Draft and (maybe) when their second pick in the first round will come (that’s up to Tampa), we’ll start digging into prospects who might be on Chicago’s board. But I’ve been keeping tabs on some of the players who intrigue me, both as potential top picks and later in the first round. This would be newsworthy if he wasn’t draft eligible, but the fact he’s going to be a first-round pick in late-June makes it something to keep in your drafts for later as well. Gabe Perreault has been historically good for the USNTDP.
- Finally, since we’re on the subject of prospects, we’re four days away from the start of the 2023 NFL Draft. And our team is crushing it with the coverage of what the Bears could do — and what the rest of the NFL might do around them. Make sure you’re checking it out so you can enjoy the proceedings starting later this week!
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