Commit To the Indian, Bitches!

The NHL Closer is written by Greg Wyshynski, of The FanHouse and The Fourth Period. He is also the author of Glow Pucks And 10-Cent Beer.

I'm not sure what the Sauk Indian word for "balls" is, but it definitely applies to Chicago Blackhawks coach Denis Savard. He went berserk on his team prior to the All-Star break in a lengthy rant, and in the process may have struck marketing gold for Chicago hockey:

"Commit to us, commit to the jersey, commit to the people here. They don't want to commit to the Indian, let's go upstairs and get them out of here." Since the rant, "Commit To the Indian" is slowly becoming a fan phenomenon, with Café Press T-Shirts (get'em before the trademark lawyers do!) as well as mainstream media acknowledgment that the team could adopt it as an official slogan. But now, predictably, we see the P.C. police come rolling in, sirens blaring and opportunistic cultural sensitivity in hand. Should hockey fans have reservations about "Commit To the Indian?" I asked one of the biggest Blackhawks fans on the Web his thoughts.

Michael "Mr. Miller" Miller has been one of the most prominent Chicago Blackhawks fans on the Web for years. He also knows a thing or two about bowing to P.C. pressure, having renamed his frequently hilarious Wirtzsucks.com to the more tasteful Blackhawkszone.com after the death of Dollar Bill last year. As pressure will undoubtedly build to end this catchphrase before it begins, Miller explains why "Commit To the Indian" shouldn't be scalped:

"I see the phrase as a clear connection to the past, to tradition. Chicago basically lost a generation of fans in the past 20 or so years. Some of those fans are starting to come back but are doing so to an entirely new atmosphere, stadium, style of play, organizational commitment, etc. Being able to move the team forward with kids like Kane, Toews, Ruutu, Seabrook and Keith while maintaining a link to what made this franchise so great is at the core how this phrase could be viewed and marketed.

Despite what the loud, minority, PC crowd may dictate - the Indian Head is still one of the proudest, most respected, logos in all of sports. What it stands for in terms of history and class is second to none."



I want to live in a world where the next Chicago draft pick can stand at the podium and tell the world that he "commits to the Indian." It's a great slogan. It's marketing gold. Allowing outside pressures to kill "Commit To the Indian" because it's culturally insensitive while continuing to skate around with Chief Black Hawk on the front of the sweater would be an indication that short-sighted hypocrisy didn't die with Bill Wirtz after all.

Brewmeister Ratings. Since pseudo-statistical and tedious analysis is the stuff of "power rankings," I describe the fortunes of four teams over the last week with a form of universal expression: In terms of beer. Welcome to The Brewmeister Ratings...

Winner No. 1: Montreal Canadiens. While dancing on Toronto's grave might be reward enough for Habs fans, their boys went 2-0 last week and are 7-2-1 in January; better yet,

they have the slowly sinking Senators in their sights. The Beer They'd Be: Montreal is a young team with a vintage look. I can think of no better beer equivalent than a tall frosty Bass Ale served somewhere....anywhere...in the vicinity of Rachel Bilson from her February 2008 GQ shoot.

Commit To the Indian, Bitches!

Winner No. 2: Nashville Predators. The Preds went

2-0-1 going into the All-Star break and are on a 8-2-3 tear. They're one of roughly 10,000 teams with a shot at the eight seed in the Western Conference — just don't expect Nashville to make some dumbass rent-a-vet trade like it has in the past. The Beer They'd Be: Big River Grille Nashville Steamer Golden Ale with a JD chaser.

Loser No. 1: Anaheim Ducks. After an 0-3 week before the break, clearly it was time to bring in the reinforcements. Teemu Selanne has finished watching DVD sets of "The Wire" in his rec room and has decided to return to Anaheim. The Ducks continue to stretch the definition of "retirement" more than George Forman. The Beer They'd Be: That last foamy, awful pint of Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen — right before they kick the keg.

Loser No. 2: St. Louis Blues. The Blues went 0-2-1 before the break and are in a 0-5-2 rut that has team president John Davidson playing the "dude, it's cool, we're young" card. Oh, and DiPietro was 100 times funnier than Legace in the All-Star Game. The Beer They'd Be: A glass of warm liquid that's either a neglected Anheuser brewery sample or Clydesdale urine.

Puck Headlines

* Break's over. Everybody back to work. Incidentally, Phoenix travels to Columbus for a game that's way more interesting than I ever thought a game between Phoenix and Columbus could be. [NHL.com]

* Patrick Marleau has been so bad this season that he's actually played himself out of the possibility of being traded. [Battle of California]

* Devils fans get a little touchy about the attendance thing. [FanHouse]

* Ottawa fans are fed up with Ray Emery's practice tardiness. "This crap has got to stop. You're making $9.5 million! You have 11 watches! Surely ONE of them has the right time on it." [Scarlett Ice]

* Guy Lafleur, Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer and Stephane Quintal doing a spoken-word performance during a Montreal Symphony Orchestra concert? What's next: Ilya

Kovalchuk, Bobby Holik and Alexei Zhitnik doing slam poetry before a Ne-Yo show? [Joe Pelletier]

* Finally, we had to go all the way to Hong Kong to find the next great innovation for Gary Bettman's NHL: