MORRISSEY: Blackhawks, Bulls offer fans what Bears, Cubs, Sox can’t
BY RICK MORRISSEY Sports Columnist October 23, 2013 10:35PM
Updated: October 23, 2013 11:42PM
Thanks to serious injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler and linebacker Lance Briggs, the forecast for what’s left of the Bears’ season is either partly cloudy (some people’s opinion) or seek shelter immediately (mine).
Three weeks ago, Northwestern football was enjoying over-the-top media attention, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Geraldo Rivera prepared to open Al Capone’s vault. Three losses later, the season feels as empty as what Geraldo found.
I think we can agree the baseball in Chicago was miserable this season, unless you’re into atrocious fielding (White Sox) and super-slow-motion rebuilding (Cubs).
Am I depressing you? Am I painting a bleak landscape? I only do it to lift you up again.
The good news following the bad: You have the Blackhawks. You have the Bulls.
You have the defending Stanley Cup champions. You have a team that might be in the hunt for an NBA championship this season.
You have Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa.
And you have You Know Who.
Derrick Rose has been lighting it up for the Bulls during the preseason. In a delicious irony, the best remedy for Chicago’s baseball/football blues might end up being the man who absorbed more abuse than a T-ball tee in
the last year.
So, yes, Rose as savior. Deal with the concept.
The best spectator sport of all this season might be watching angry, resentful people crawl back to Rose.
But let’s try to rally around the good things and not dwell on the bad, no matter how much the Bears’ defense makes us want to reach for a sharp object.
This is a fantastic opportunity for the Bulls and Hawks to get more notice in the historically dark months of October, November and December. And January and February, come to think of it.
It’s not in the Hawks’ wiring to have a letdown this season. The post-Cup hangover of 2010-11 occurred because salary-cap issues led to a roster bloodletting. This time, there was much less turnover. Fans have every right to believe the Hawks will pick up where they left off.
Oh, there will be challenges. Let’s see how the Sochi Olympics affect the Hawks. As many as 14 Hawks might compete for their countries in February, though 10 is a more likely number. Will there be any fallout from that? Will there be injuries? Will NHL contenders with fewer Olympic players benefit from the rest?
Maybe we’re looking for nits to pick. Six Hawks played in the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, and, if you’ll recall, the franchise won the Cup four months later. Of course, you recall. You’re still picking confetti out of your hair, but you can’t tell which Cup parade it’s from. A nice problem to have.
While the Cubs try to hire a manager and the Sox wonder whether theirs is the right man for the job, the Bulls and Hawks have oak trees for coaches. What says ‘‘stability’’ more, Joel Quenneville’s gray mustache or Tom Thibodeau’s gray suits?
With Rose back and getting close to form, Thibodeau actually will have ‘‘more than enough to win.’’ He won’t even have to utter his pet phrase this season. But I bet he won’t be able to help himself.
The Bulls have some issues, too. No one can be sure if Joakim Noah will stay healthy, not with the plantar fasciitis he battled last season and the groin problem he’s facing now. The Bulls are going to have to find other people besides Rose who can score, something they struggled to do two years ago.
Thibodeau needs to ease up on the minutes for Noah and Luol Deng, but I’m not sure he would know how to ease up on a La-Z-Boy recliner. Can everybody survive the season? Can Rose?
Those are scary questions, but life could be a lot worse. You could have mediocre Bulls and Hawks teams, a sinking Bears product and the specter of more bad baseball on the North Side and lingering doubts on the South Side.
Since the injuries to Cutler and Briggs on Sunday, there has been a real effort in town to keep optimism afloat, but it’s exhausting. You’re asking Cutler’s backup, Josh McCown, to play better than he has in his 10-plus years in the league, and you’re asking the defense to find a miracle cure.
I’d suggest focusing on the Hawks and Bulls. You’ll be much more at peace.