Streaking Blackhawks Move Into National Spotlight, Giving Boost To NHL Brand
The Blackhawks won last night to push their record-setting points streak start to the NHL season to 24 games, exactly half of the schedule, and the run has "transcended sports," according to David Haugh of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. If you "don't believe an unprecedented number of people are noticing the Hawks, you are ignoring the numbers." Blackhawks Exec VP Jay Blunk said that TV ratings on nets that carry Hawks games "have gone up 80 percent from last year." Retail sales at the Blackhawks Store and within the United Center "have increased 88 percent over a year ago," and sales of C Jonathan Toews' No. 19 jersey "exceeded any other in the NHL during February." The Wall Street Journal recently "requested a credential," while Time magazine "mentioned the Hawks." SI and ESPN also "arrived this week" to cover the team's streak (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/7). ESPN CHICAGO's Jon Greenberg notes casual fans "who might have strayed since the Stanley Cup are hooked again, and this team has become a national story, not just a hockey sidebar." Greenberg: "Fans across Chicago are living and dying with each goal, each rebound, every save. Who says regular-season hockey is meaningless?" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 3/7).
BLACKHAWKS CHANGING NHL NARRATIVE: ESPN's Pablo Torre said, "The NHL is the Blackhawks right now. It’s the only storyline the casual fan cares about." The league "needs them to keep going” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 3/6). FOXSPORTS.com's Greg Couch writes the NHL lockout is "already forgotten," as the Blackhawks are saving NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's "backside with their outrageous winning streak." This is the NHL's "Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa moment, at least as close as this league can come." The Blackhawks are giving the NHL "something to look at in the first half of the regular season." That in itself "might be their most amazing accomplishment." The NHL season was "going to go completely unnoticed by everyone except for the puckheads out there." But on Sunday when the Blackhawks tied the Red Wings with two minutes left in regulation, giving NBC a "strong rating, they became a national story" (FOXSPORTS.com, 3/7).
WE'RE GOING STREAKING! The Blackhawks' run is still being compared to the Heat's win streak, and Wayne Gretzky said the comparison is "good for the NHL." He said, "That only enhances our sport and makes it bigger and better" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 3/6). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg noted Heat F LeBron James sent a congratulatory tweet to the Blackhawks after last night's game. Greenberg said, “It’s a great thing for hockey when LeBron James is tweeting at those guys and those guys can get that going.” ESPN’s Mike Golic added, “It’s about the best pub they can get” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 3/7).