Asked Sunday to explain the Blackhawks’ long winning streak, Patrick Kane reached into the Official Bag of Athletes’ Cliches for an answer.
“I think the reason we’ve been winning games is we’ve been taking it one at a time, not looking too far ahead,’’ he said.
Jonathan Toews said almost the same thing after the Hawks’ 5-2 victory over the Canadiens, and if you asked coach Joel Quenneville what his favorite color is, here’s betting he’d say he’s taking it one game at a time.
Cliches are the bane of sportswriters and a safe place for athletes. Cliches don’t make for good writing (or sound bites), but they do help athletes focus on the task at hand and help take the enormity out of certain situations. You can see the inherent conflict between the media’s search for something entertaining or enlightening and athletes’ search for blissful sameness.
I still roll my eyes when players offer up the one-game-at-a-time cliche but not nearly as much as I once did. Yes, sometimes it is a crutch for athletes who don’t want to take the time to think of something with a little more meaning to it. But most of them believe in the cliche, and for good reason: Concentrating on what’s in front of you is smart. Looking beyond it often isn’t.
Cliches always have some truth to them, sometimes a lot of truth. I understand their purpose for the athlete, but they serve no purpose for me as a writer or a reader.
If you’re looking for reasons to explain the Hawks’ 11-game winning streak, their ability to take ’em one game at a time isn’t a bad one. Neither is the massive amount of talent on their roster.
To my knowledge, no Hawks player has said God wants them to win. But it’s early yet.