When you are forced to play 14 of 18 games on the road during the "Dog Days of Hockey," you know there are some quirks in the schedule.
One of the benefits of this strange sequence for the Blackhawks is that we are in the midst of watching our third Original Six team in the last five games. Enjoy it while it lasts because the next Original Six team we will see is on the last day of the regular season when the Blackhawks face off against the Detroit Red Wings, a game that should have plenty of playoff implications.
So why the love affair with Original Six teams? For me, it's all about the history. The NHL has been around for 95 years, and all of the Original Six have been around for the better part of that. Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, and New York.
As a guy who played in the 1980s and 90s, it's hard to describe going into a building that you know Jean Beliveau, Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Jean Ratelle, Eddie Giacomin, Dave Keon, Tim Horton, Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Tony Esposito played in. I know all of those buildings are different now -- except for Madison Square Garden -- but seeing those team jerseys brings back a lot of great memories. With the geographical realignment of 1998, Chicago now only has the Red Wings as consistent Original Six combatants.
Each of these cities are hockey hotbeds in their own way, with the title going to Montreal. Even after a disappointing season and a team in turmoil, they still pack the Bell Centre with loud and knowledgeable fans. I think that's what I liked best about playing in these cities: People know hockey, they grew up with it and although some never played, they had their dad's and grandfather's explaining in great detail the rules and regulations of this game.
Who knows how the battle between the NHL and the Players Association plays out this off season. I'm thinking cooler heads will prevail, and with that, an opportunity to see our five brethren on a more consistent basis. That should make for more great history and more great hockey.