Not much to say about the opening ceremony that I couldn't have said better last year. Nothing thoroughly overwhelmed me like it did when the anticipation was brand new, at least. Two things struck me about what was said, though:
1. The front office guys are doing everything they possibly can to veer the fans toward a vision of the future. There seemed to be a gag order on the names Dale Tallon, Martin Havlat, and Nikolai Khabibulin, and the two departed players only made cursory appearances in the 08/09 video review, in the appropriate playoff segments. Eddie O summed it up with a somewhat hollow catchphrase -- "There's a new era of Blackhawk hockey, and a new way of doing things." I guess if the 07/08 season was an open-armed welcome wagon to 'Hawks legends, and the 08/09 season was aimed at energizing the masses, then the 09/10 season will attempt to stage a Miltonesque struggle. What's right is not always understood, and there's no returning to the age of innocence. We're not even allowed to long for it, at least not this weekend. Nothing shall eclipse the glory of the present.
2. We can celebrate the accomplishments of the 08/09 season and interpret the upheaval that has shaken us since July 1, but we should also remember the simple fact that the 'Hawks have returned this city to a constant state of excitement. This past spring, they became a matter of civic pride. We could see what they meant; there were physical reminders everywhere we went. Now, we can bitch about ticket availability, newbie yuppie fans, screaming hordes of teenage fangirls (and if you were at the Second City event tonight, you know what I mean), but goddammit, Chicago cares again. We're invested, not just financially, but spiritually, down to our cores. Why else would John McD's meddling invite such discontentment? What else would compel us to educate ourselves about the salary cap, or deliriously chart all of Coach Q's possibilities, or dream newly unbridled about winning the Stanley Cup?
Because the Blackhawks have aroused us from our apathy.
Tonight was about fanfare. Tomorrow, we attempt to burrow into the heart of things. I'm pretty excited.