Led by Hart Trophy favorite Patrick Kane, young captain Jonathan Toews and a ragtag group of role players, the Chicago Blackhawks’ historic 21-0-3 start to the lockout shortened season captivated a city and reinvigorated the beleaguered NHL. This week’s Sports Illustrated, which features the Blackhawks on the cover, examines the resilient team that has helped bring hockey back. This is the third time the Blackhawks have appeared on an SI cover.
The ‘Hawks, who’s win streak finally came to an end last Friday, have sprinted out to the best NHL start since 2006-07 and done so in a compressed schedule that has featured numerous close wins. Along the way, Brian Cazeneuve writes on how they’ve reinvigorated the spirits of Chicago fans still upset over the departure of key players from the 2010 Stanley cup team (a sign at a recent game read: “#23 isn’t just about Michael anymore”) and shown the resilience of the NHL (arenas are filled to 96.7% of capacity since the season started, and 109.4% in Chicago.) Cazeneuve says: “And just like that—from completely locked out to totally locked in—Chicago has given the league a much needed boost.” (PAGE 39)
GM Stan Bowman headed the revitalization process prior to the season by adding gritty role players instead of marquee free agents. Bowman’s faith has allowed former castoff players like Daniel Carcillo (the man nicknamed “Car Bomb” who scored a game-winner with 49.3 seconds left to extend the streak against the Avalanche last week) and goaltenders Corey Crawford and Ray Emery to thrive.
“The Miami Heat can win 15, 16 games in a row, but how many teams can really win an NBA Title? Three? Four? I mean, the Kings won the Cup as an eight seed last year. In our league, if the 30th team beats the first team one night, it’s not a big deal. No game is a gimme,” said Kane (PAGE 36)
No player has stepped up more in the streak than Kane, who was previously known more for his off-the-ice antics than his amazing skills on it. Cazeneuve writes that Kane used the lockout to develop as a person, moving to an apartment with his mother in Biel, Switzerland, while he played in the Swiss League. “The biggest thing about this year is that I didn’t want to disappoint my parents…Hurting myself was one thing; hurting people close to me woke me up.” (PAGE 39)
Despite the surging streak, Toews and the Blackhawks know it’s not how you start, but how you’re playing once the Stanley Cup playoffs come around.
“The wins now are great, but we know they won’t mean anything if we can’t reset our sights on winning in June.” (PAGE 39)
This time of year has everyone in the sports world gearing up for March Madness. Yet, the start of spring football also enters the sports spotlight—and fans always have an appetite for some college football. That’s why we chose to do something a bit different and feature two outstanding college football players, Braxton Miller and Jadeveon Clowney, ripping through a “Where’s Waldo” compilation of college basketball images, on regional covers of the March 4, 2013 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
Multiple layers went into designing this ambitious 3D quality cover. First, our Art Director Edward Truscio oversaw putting together the compilation of college hoops images. We’ve been using this Where’s Waldo technique for over ten years now at SI and it’s no easy task. Ed did an amazing job.
Simultaneously, we worked on the tear technique that shows these players literally ripping through the college basketball images. To do this, we actually ripped pieces of paper until we got the perfect tear. Then, our talented imaging department got to work to put it all together and make it look as real as possible. The challenge was a steep one—being a weekly magazine, the main components of the cover were finalized with only eight hours until the final deadline. As always, our team got it done.
The result: A timeless cover with March madness flavor that also appeals to our reader’s fascination with spring football. And the beautiful action shots of these players running at you symbolically shows how they are breaking onto the national scene. Kudos to Simon Bruty, the photographer who captured a brilliant shot of Clowney.
- Chris Hercik (@Chercik), Sports Illustrated Creative Director
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, the offensive MVP of Monday’s BCS title game, tramples over two Notre Dame defenders on the cover of the Jan. 14, 2013, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday. This is the 23rd time that Crimson Tide football has appeared on the cover, which includes 12 covers in the past four seasons. You can purchase this week’s cover here.
Alabama’s 42-14 dominating victory over Notre Dame earned the Crimson Tide their third BCS Title in four years, firmly securing Alabama’s place in history. Fans and players alike, including Alabama senior center Barrett Jones couldn’t help but speak of a dynasty. Jones spoke to senior writer Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) on the field after the game. He said: “There’s a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED cover hanging in my room because I’m on it—from 2010. It says, DYNASTY. CAN ANYONE STOP ALABAMA? I’ll never forget looking at that thing and wondering if we really could be a dynasty. Three out of four. I’m no dynasty expert, but that seems like a dynasty to me.”
Even more impressive is the run by Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who has now coached teams to national championships in four of the past 10 seasons. Only Paul “Bear” Bryant’s six titles at Alabama compare, yet Saban told Layden: “There is no continuum of success. History can’t help us win.”
Following a wild weekend of upsets in college football, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings for the first time in school history, and No.1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time since November 1993. This rise to the top lands them on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, marking the 24th time the Notre Dame football program has been featured on the cover, and the first national cover since Maurice Stovall on September 30, 2002. You can purchase this week’s cover here.
The Irish are marching onward to the national championship game – and downward from the moral high ground they have claimed for a century. In this week’s Sports Illustrated, senior writer Tim Layden goes inside the football culture change at Notre Dame, a place where the team can’t merely be good; it must also call to mind the glory of a century-long football tradition. This year’s team is the first one in awhile to do both.
Says current Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith, who played five years at Notre Dame, including two under current head coach Brian Kelly: “You’re expected to go to class and not just be a football player. That’s real. It’s going to be hard academically, just like it’s hard academically at a lot of schools. But we’re all just college kids, we’re all playing football, and we’re all going to make mistakes. Notre Dame is not some golden perfect place. It’s a place that tries to do the right thing” (page 57).
Kansas point guard Elijah Johnson is featured on a regional cover of Sports Illustrated’s College Basketball Preview issue, highlighting the senior’s place as the leader of the Jayhawks’ young talent. Johnson is the first Kansas player to appear on the cover since Thomas Robinson on November 12, 2011.
The Jayhawks are SI’s preseason #3 pick, the highest-ranked team in the Big 12.