On Monday, the Los Angeles Kings held their Stanley Cup parade, and while it was a very good turnout, there are parts of the parade route that looked deserted. MyFoxChicago decided to capitalize on this, suggesting the championship parade for their city's Blackhawks last year was better since it drew approximately two million fans. That may be a phenomenal turnout for a parade, but at the end of the day, does it really matter which team had better attendance? The answer to that may warrant a number of responses, but as far as I'm concerned, the attendance numbers shouldn't - and don't - matter one iota.
Compared to Chicago's turnout last June, Los Angeles's 2014 attendance of approximately 250,000 is admittedly scarce, but it seems as if that MyFoxChicago and @CluelessChiFan (the first word in that Twitter handle should say enough) are so bitter about their team's playoff exit that they are trying to convince themselves that having more fans come out for their championship parade qualifies as a win. Even worse, on said Twitter feed, @CluelessChiFan responded to Bailey (@BaileyLAKings), the lovable mascot of the Los Angeles Kings by saying, "Hey look!" followed by a shot of the five Stanley Cup banners hanging in Chicago's United Center.
Let us note that Los Angeles's parade was held on a Monday. Chicago's parade last year was held on a Friday. It is common knowledge that in North America, employers are far more willing to let their staff leave on a Friday than they are on a Monday. Anyone who has ever worked a weekday job would know this. Perhaps the reason that the Kings didn't get two million fans for their parade could be that Monday is the beginning of the work week for most companies and letting their employees take off is unheard of. Maybe the reason why the Blackhawks drew so well last year was because they were getting sick of eating deep-dish pizza. I really do not know but nonetheless, it's irrelevant. The Kings had a parade because they won the Stanley Cup. What's Chicago's excuse?
In terms of how many championships each team has, I certainly cannot argue that the Blackhawks win. After all, the Los Angeles Kings have only won two Cups despite being around since 1967. But the Blackhawks, who have their five Cups, have been around since 1926. In fact, for the 41 years they played before the Kings came into existence, the Hawks played in a six-team league. It is also worth noting that these were during the days long before free agency was even talked about much less put into effect. So, unlike today, those six teams had to play against the same rosters year and year after year.
Give credit to the Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Red Wings for dominating the six-team National Hockey League for so many years but as great as they were, surely the Blackhawks - along with the Bruins and Rangers - would have taken the bull by the horns at one point and learned how to score on Jacques Plante or Terry Sawchuk, or how to deke out Bernie Geoffrion or Marcel Pronovost or even contain the offensive attacks perpetrated by Frank Mahovolich or Alex Delvecchio. Even standing up to Ted Lindsay or Eddie Shore would have sufficed. But no, the Chicago Blackhawks were below-mediocre for so many of those years when they could have easily contended by simply earning one of the four spots it took to make the playoffs. I don't know if they made excuses then but fans in Chicago are certainly making excuses now and it's pathetic.
When the Hawks eliminated the Kings in last year's Western Final, I was understandably disappointed. One, there was no chance of a repeat; two, the Hawks clinched the series on home ice; three, the overtime-winner was scored by the detestable Patrick Kane. But despite that, I gave the Hawks their due (albeit reluctantly), and simply said that while they were no match, the Kings had a great season and should have been proud. If I were a Blackhawks fan, I would have come to the same conclusion this year. It's just unfortunate that some Hawks fans don't feel the same way that I do. Instead, they have to whine about how they lost (even though they fought back from 3-1 series deficit) rather than simply accepting defeat graciously. They won two Stanley Cups in four years for crying out loud.
Of course, this is the same city that literally wanted to murder Steve Bartman for trying to catch a foul ball when the Chicago Cubs were on the cusp of heading to the World Series in 2003. Unfortunately for long-suffering Cubs fans, Bartman interfered with a play that resulted in left-fielder Moises Alou being livid. Never mind that the replay shows that Alou would have had difficulty catching the ball without interference, never mind that the Cubs had their ace Mark Prior pitching (in addition to a fully-rested bullpen ready to go) and never mind that the Cubs needed just a few outs while their opponents, the Florida Marlins, had to win just to force a Game 7, this was all Steve Bartman's fault because he had the gall to be like any other fan and catch a ball within his grasp. Sadly for the Cubs, they lost the game and the series while poor Steve Bartman forced himself to live as a recluse. But there was a silver-lining for Cubs fans as years later, the ball that Bartman had tried to catch was blown up. How an explosion solves problems is beyond me but it did leave me with one terrifying thought: What if Kennedy and Khrushchev were Cubs fans?
I would suggest to Chicago sports fans to, like the Bartman incident, let this one go, but considering Wrigley Field and Soldier Field are a combined 190 years old, I have a bad feeling that such a request would fall upon deaf ears.
CBC's Elliotte Friedman said something important during this year's Western Final between Kings and Blackhawks and I tend to agree with him. While I don't remember what he said verbatim, Friedman did say that with both teams having locked up their talent long-term, the Kings and Blackhawks will be the cream of the crop in the West - and possibly the entire NHL - for years to come. That isn't to suggest that every year will pit the same two teams against each other but just the notion should have both teams rejoicing. Like the Hawks, the Kings were a long-suffering franchise who consistently lost as a result of shoddy draft results, lackluster trades and overall bad luck. So, the Blackhawks didn't win this year. Cry me a river. The Kings got the short end of the stick last year but the team and their fans came back this year with the hopes of regaining hockey's Holy Grail - and they did.
As for @CluelessChiFan, it is entertaining to see his Twitter feed and see how bitter he is about the success of the Los Angeles Kings, indicating the team doesn't have any fans. While I have met a group of Kings fans who only joined in supporting their team within the last decade, I also met a significantly larger group who have been fans since the 1980's, the 1970's and even some from the team's inception in 1967. Those are a lot of years and unfortunately, said fans had to deal with a lot of losing. But they stuck with their team through thick and thin, even during the 2006-07 season when their hated crosstown rivals won the Stanley Cup. Speaking of 2006-07, the Chicago Blackhawks were second-worst in the league for attendance that year as the United Center averaged approximately 7,000 empty seats per game. The Kings, while they didn't sell out as often as they do today, drew a few thousand more fans per game. Both the Islanders and the Panthers drew more fans than the Hawks that year. Not too many teams have the courage to admit that. Then again, not too many teams have had that happen in the first place.
If the Chicago media or Blackhawks fans want to gloat about how they can draw more fans to a championship parade, then they should simply win the Stanley Cup next season and prove it again. But that will not be an easy task because in order to win the Cup as they must get by the Los Angeles Kings first - the same team that knocked them off their perch just a few weeks ago.
I always wondered why they called Chicago the "Second" City. After Game 7 of the Western Final - and especially after this display of poor sportsmanship - I stopped wondering.