Ducks vs. Chicago Blackhawks: Anaheim gets another chance

Ducks vs. Chicago Blackhawks: Anaheim gets another chance
Ducks forward Hampus Lindholm, left, and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews battle for position during a game in January 2014. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)

Chicago Blackhawks playing the Ducks in NHL’s Western Conference Final is more than a big hockey series. It’s a clash of cultures, and history.

The City of Big Shoulders meets the City of Mouse Ears. The town that made deep dish pizza famous meets the town that made overpriced hamburgers the theme-park standard. The stockyards vs. Critter Country … Michigan Avenue crosses Main Street U.S.A.


The Blackhawks toddle in from that toddling town to face the Ducks in their world of laughter and world of tears in Game One on Sunday, and it is a small world after all.

This is the third time a sports team from Anaheim has faced fellas from Chicago with a chance to play for a title as the prize. That’s major sports -- getting out of the Honda Center parking lot is far more of a sport than Arena Football (though, interestingly, not after Arena Football games).

And the bad news for the happiest place on earth? Anaheim tends to get blown away by teams from the Windy City.

The Rams (remember them?) made Anaheim home from 1980-94. There were embarrassing moments, and the 1985 NFC title a ranks near the top. The Chicago Bears were the pigskin butchers of the world that season and these were Rams to the slaughter.

The Bears' 24-0 victory was captured best by a wobbly pass from Rams' quarterback Dieter Brock to receiver Bobby Duckworth. Noted CBS analyst John Madden, "that looked more like a duck to Passworth."

It took 20 years for Anaheim to  live up -- down? -- to that moment. The Angels were a step away from the 2005 World Series, with only the Chicago White Sox in their way. The Angels won Game One and were headed to extra innings, tied 1-1, in Game Two. 

Or so they thought.

The White Sox's A.J. Pierzynski struck out on a pitch in the dirt to end the ninth inning, except …

While the Angels ran off the field, Pierzynski ran to first, having not heard home plate umpire Doug Eddings call him out. Eddings ruled that the ball had hit the ground. Replays showed it hadn't.

The White Sox scored the game-winning run moments later and were off, sweeping the next three games and the Houston Astros in the World Series.

Ah, but the joke was on the White Sox, as 2005 was the only year since 1987 that Disneyland didn't pay an athlete to say, "I'm going to Disneyland" after winning a title.