That’s right, the return of the 2023-24 regular season means it’s the return of the favorite corner of the internet for, roughly, two or three people! This first edition will be available to everyone but later editions will be exclusive to SCH subscribers, so sign up now to get more of this weekly madness throughout the season!
A thought has been rattling around in the back of this head for the last few years now: Chicago’s pro sports teams sure seem to be losing an awful lot recently, haven’t they? Yes, there’s a bit of a pessimistic viewpoint within the fan bases of this fine city because the teams have so often left us disappointed. But the last few years have seemed especially bad, given the Blackhawks’ on-ice woes and off-ice disgraces, the Sox rebuild completely unraveling, the Bears’ tanking, the Bulls hovering around mediocrity and the Cubs coming down from the highs of the 2010s.
So, to see if this feeling was backed up by any numbers, the charts below combine the overall records in the 21st century for these five Chicago teams in the four major North American pro leagues. The seasons are calculated by the year they started, so the Blackhawks 2022-23 season goes into the same category as the ’22-23 Bulls season, ’22-23 Bears season and ’22 Cubs/Sox seasons. That means we have incomplete numbers for the 2023-24 seasons but, based on the Bears’ 1-5 open and the Hawks having just four games to affect the standings, it’s not off to a great start.
Here are the overall marks for Chicago’s teams this century:
So, yeah, 2022-23 was the worst year this century for Chicago’s sports teams, tying the woeful 2017-18 season that couldn’t even be saved by what was then a very good Cubs team. The rolling five-year averages for the city of Chicago has trended down since it peaked at .507 in 2016-17:
- 2017-18 – .495
- 2018-19 – .493
- 2019-20 – .486
- 2020-21 – .480
- 2021-22 – .467
- 2022-23 – .467
- 2023-24 (as of 10/17/23) – .465
Now, I know what you may be saying: “But Dave, this list excludes the Fire, Red Stars and Sky! Surely things better accounting for the younger franchises along these older fixtures!”
Spoiler alert: It doesn’t! We’ll limit this sample to the last decade, since the Red Stars didn’t begin playing until 2013 (represented in the 2013-14 tier below):
It actually got worse!
The Fire have been bad forever it seems, the Red Stars lost USWNT star Mallory Swanson to injury, and the Sky were 2021 WNBA champs but had to work through a midseason coaching change just to nab a wild card spot.
So, yeah: it’d be pretty nice if the Blackhawks’ current rebuild worked out because Chicago’s teams have been racking up too many losses lately.
The Week That Was
Pretty great way to open the season.
Boston feels like a team that’s teetering on the edge of a cliff because of all those veterans it relied on for so long. The fall may not be this season but it doesn’t seem far off, either.
Guess they were due for a dud at some point this week, right?
Ryan Reaves talks an awful lot of shit for someone who is only trusted with 6:38 of ice time.
Hold Up a Light
Monday’s win over Toronto crystallizes everything about this season that should make it substantially more enjoyable than the prior one. First, yeah, beating the Maple Leafs in Toronto is always going to be a good time. The Blackhawks even managed to piss off a member of the Toronto media who hasn’t deserved a platform for a decade, which only adds to the fun.
It wasn’t just the fact that they won the game, though: it was how they won. That victory could be dubbed the Alex Vlasic Game or the Arvid Soderblom Game and neither would feel inaccurate. LBR touched on the performances of both players in the recap, but it bears mentioning once again that two of the biggest contributors to the victory on Monday night were players who are likely going to be around for several seasons to come.
Corey Perry had the goal, yeah, but the pass by Vlasic is the point here:
This wasn’t Sam Lafferty scoring a pair of shorthanded goals against the San Jose Sharks. This wasn’t a three-point game from Max Domi against the New York Rangers. This wasn’t a 22-save shutout from Alex Stalock against the Arizona Coyotes. All those performances did was bolster the trade value of players who were likely gone by the trade deadline or over the summer via free agency (and all three are gone now).
No, this is potential starting to realize itself in front of our eyes. Neither Vlasic nor Soderblom are finished products, and the road ahead only gets more difficult as those players have to prove on a consistent basis that they’re worthy of larger roles in the best league in the world. But we now have tangible evidence that these players just might be legitimate NHL pieces, and there could be so many more moments and games like that ahead in the next few seasons. There are going to be Connor Bedard Games this season. There could be a Kevin Korchinski Game. And a Wyatt Kaiser Game. Maybe a Philipp Kurashev Game. In future seasons, we could get a Frank Nazar Game or an Oliver Moore game and on and on and on.
And that’s enough to keep you tuning in whenever the Blackhawks are playing, which is really all you need from this sports thing: a reason to watch.
The Week That Will Be
Thursday, Oct. 19 at Colorado Avalanche
It’s going to be difficult to be sensible about this season if the Blackhawks return home from the opening five-game road trip with a 3-2 record.
Saturday, Oct. 21 vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Can only imagine what the atmosphere inside the UC will be like for Connor Bedard’s home debut.