It's logo or no-go for Hawks

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

No way did Denis Savard expect his words to take on such a life.

Late last month, the Chicago Blackhawks head coach -- disappointed with his team's effort in a horrible home loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets -- uttered a phrase that's resonated beyond his team.

"We committed to them. Some of them, we committed to them two years, for three years. They've got to commit to us," Savard said impassionedly. "They've got to commit to the Indian.

"If they don't want to commit to the Indian, let's go upstairs and we'll get 'em out of here."

Two weeks later, Savard's rant continues to live.

Passionate Blackhawks fans -- a group that's grown this season with the club appearing to finally be on the upswing -- are producing t-shirts with the motto.

A debate raged whether the team should scrap its marketing slogan "Red Rising" in favour of Savard's words.

In an online poll on the Chicago Tribune's website, 66% of the 4,300-plus respondents said the team should adopt the slogan.

And yes, there have been words of discontent, calling Savard's phrase as racist and tasteless.

Considering how far the Blackhawks had fallen off the Windy City's sporting scene, the fact anybody even noticed is a step in the right direction.

Heading into last night's clash with the Calgary Flames, the Hall-of-Famer said his point was for his players to take pride in the club's logo and what it means.

"I've played for that uniform for a long time," Savard said. "I'm a very passionate person. I believe in our jersey, I believe in our organization, I believe in our city.

"We've got great fans. We've lost for quite a few years and are starting to come back, and I don't want this to slide away.

"I want to make sure our message is strong to our players -- they're the ones creating that atmosphere, and we want to keep it going.

"It's been fun to see our building with 18,000-20,000 people in there compared to 8,000-9,000 like we had for quite a few years."

It was a lesson heard loud and clear by the players.

"When you hear a guy like Denis Savard -- a Hall-of-Fame player, one of the legends of the Chicago Blackhawks, an original-six franchise -- talk about committing to the Indian head, that certainly rattled a few feathers in our room," said right-winger Patrick Sharp.

"We're not out of the playoff picture and have 28 games to go to salvage the season."

The 'Hawks are ahead of only the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference race, so a Stanley Cup title this spring is far-fetched.

Just reaching the playoffs is a stretch. However, there are signs the club is approaching better days.

In rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who is expected to return to action this weekend, they have a couple of cornerstone forwards with tons of star potential.

Despite a couple of lengthy losing streaks since flipping the calendar to 2008, Chicago is on a much better pace than last season.

Savard, whose team has missed the post-season the last four seasons and eight of the last nine campaigns, can sense the Blackhawks have turned the corner.

"We're close to being a playoff team," he insisted. "I'm not saying this year it's not going to happen because we can put a winning streak together and there's a chance.

"Eighty-five points, compared to where we were the last few years, would be a good year for us. We've got to shoot for the stars, shoot for the playoffs and shoot for the Stanley Cup.

"You've got to have high expectations."

Even amidst the club's most recent skid, the upbeat attitude was noticeable in the Blackhawks dressing room following yesterday's morning skate.

"It's been a fun year," Sharp said. "In the standings, I'm sure they're not much different compared to last year, but there is that sense in the room we have a team that can win and is building towards something very exciting.

"It's a different atmosphere. There are guys here who have taken a beating and have been here when it's losing, so we want to be here when we're winning."


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