CHICAGO/PHILLY ARE KINDRED SPIRITS
The passion is second to none. Both have known great success and unrequited failure. Both are rich in history but sometimes cling to that history for a bit too long.
Chicago had Michael Jordan and the Bulls as their dynasty. Philadelphia has never really had a dynasty - except maybe the modern day Phillies who are trying to get back to the World Series for a third straight year.
In baseball, the Cubs haven't won the World Series in 102 years nor been there in 65 years. The White Sox have won just three championships in 109 years of existence. The Phillies, just two in 127 years.
In football, the Bears have won one Super Bowl, the Eagles none, yet both have rabid fan bases that expect a championship every year and with throaty bile express their disgust when it doesn't happen.
In basketball, the Bulls were a dynasty with Jordan, but never won before or since His Airness' era. As for the Sixers, they had a couple golden ages that begat two champions - the Wilt Chamberlain years in the 1960s (1967 championship) and the Julius Erving years in the 1970s and 80s (1983 championship) but aside from those great teams, only a Finals run in 2001 led by Allen Iverson has brought the Sixers back to the brink of immortality in their sport.
Which brings us to hockey. The Blackhawks are one of the Original Six teams in the NHL, yet have only three championships to show for it in their storied history, the last coming in 1961. They haven't even been to the finals since 1992.
As for the Flyers, they always seem to be a contender for the Cup, but success has averted them for 35 years. This is their sixth visit to the Finals since last winning the Cup in 1975, and they have lost each of the previous five to dynastic teams, the most recent in 1997 to the Detroit Red Wings.
So there should be plenty of intrigue when these two popular squads convene for the start of the 2010 Finals in Chicago Saturday.
There will be plenty of story lines.
-Michael Leighton going against the team that gave up on him.
-Patrick Sharp going against the team that bailed on him.
-Patrick Kane and James van Riemsdyk, the top two picks in the 2007 draft, squaring off.
-Marian Hossa in the finals for the third straight year with three different teams looking to finally hoist the silver chalice.
-Ian Laperriere finally playing in a Cup Finals after 16 seasons in the NHL.
The list goes on and on.
But, the one list that isn't that long is the number of times Philly and CHicago have squared off in playoffs. It's hard to believe that two fanatical sports towns have such a shallow history with one another, but it's true.
Below is a list of every Philly-Chicago playoff in the four major sports. Feel free to hold your breath. You'll probably make it to the end of the list.
1910-Philadelphia Athletics defeated the Chicago Cubs 4-1 in the World Series
1929-Philadelphia Athletics defeated the Chicago Cubs 4-1 in the World Series
1947-Chicago Cardinals defeated the Phildelphia Eagles 28-21 in the NFL Championship
1948-Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 in the NFL Championship
1979-Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago Bears 27-17 in the NFC Wild Card game
1988-Chicago Bears defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 20-12 in the NFC Division Playoff
2002-Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago Bears 33-19 in the NFC Division Playoff
1990-Chicago Bulls defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 4-1 in the Conference semifinals
1991-Chicago Bulls defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 4-1 in the Conference semifinals
1971-Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 in the Quarterfinals
That's it folks.
Well, there was one more... in 2005 the Philadelphia Phantoms defeated the Chicago Wolves (not affiliated with the Blackhawks) to win the AHL Calder Cup 4-0. The interesting thing is six players on these two teams rosters played in that series.
The Flyers' Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Riley Cote and the Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp and Ben Eager played for the Cup-winning Phantoms. Flyers' defenseman Braydon Coburn played for the Wolves.
So, AHL championship aside, the two cities haven't clashed over a title since 1948. Weird how that works, eh?
Nevertheless, expect a sensational series.
We'll have full blown coverage of the finals every day from today until it's over with yours truly, columnist Jack McCaffrey and sports editor and one-time hockey guru Rob Parent providing the latest info.
I'll be providing game stories, notebooks, blog entries and daily features both on line and in print, and will also be twittering everyday (@AnthonySan37) and shooting video to post to our Web site.
It's be a fun ride for the next two weeks, enjoy!