A long, painful drought on the brink of ending thanks to the rise of once-in-a-generation young talent. A fan base clinging to sanity because sometimes winning it all just feels too good to be true. Chicago is on the brink of completely losing its shit ... yeah, the Cubs are in the World Series.
It’s a place Blackhawks fans were in not that long ago.
Now, to start, the Cubs are not the Blackhawks. Their losing streak has lasted much longer — the Hawks only went 49 years between Stanley Cups, exactly half of how long the Cubs have gone since their last championship — and their fan base has suffered in a much different way.
The Cubs used to be the lovable losers who still packed Wrigley Field regularly because it’s a great place to drink in the summer. Nobody ever called the Blackhawks lovable losers because they were rarely popular enough to be called lovable. For a while there, they were usually losers, though.
I’m lucky enough to be both a Blackhawks fan and a Cubs fan. One who is far too young to really appreciate the meaningfulness of losing for decade after decade, yes, but passionate nonetheless. And I cannot help but see the parallels between those 2010 Blackhawks who gave me incredible memories I’ll never forget, and what I’ve experienced over the past seven months watching Cubs baseball.
First, it starts with the rise. The Blackhawks were an up-and-coming team full of generational young talents like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith. Knowing they needed to supplement that with more experienced veteran stars to get over the top, Chicago went out and signed Marian Hossa to a monster contract.
Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Addison Russell are the Cubs’ Kane, Toews and Keith, and Jon Lester is their Hossa. Lester is the big-name veteran who saw what was being built in Chicago and took the lucrative offer to get in on the ground floor. Both teams had the same plan: develop a core of mind-blowing young talent, then sprinkle in some key veterans in the gaps.
And then came the adversity. The year before breaking through to win the 2010 Stanley Cup, the Hawks got eliminated by the Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals. A year before the Cubs made the 2016 World Series, they got eliminated by the Mets in the National League Championship Series.
Glory came after that for the Blackhawks, and maybe it’ll come for the Cubs soon, too.
I don’t know if this series will end like that one did, but as someone who grew up watching both teams, I can’t help but feel some small sense of deja vu. We’re ready to party in Chicago again.