The Mighty Hawks

Now with knit caps! Getty Images

As Ron Burgundy would say, and as is often repeated around these parts, "Boy, that escalated quickly."

Today, we speak of the Blackhawks. Sure, lots of people saw this franchise, blessed with young talent and now graced with some veteran stability, heading in this direction. But third in the West … already?

To emphasize the resurgence, and with the team hosting the Winter Classic on New Years Day, they've gone on a dominating run as a preamble to the big outdoor game. Over the weekend, the Hawks set a franchise record with their ninth consecutive victory after defeating the Minnesota Wild, 4-1. The current streak is now the longest in the 82-year history of the franchise. And these wins haven't been nail-biters. The Blackhawks have outscored opponents 40-12 during the run.

So what's the secret? Well, read up.

To start the year, we grilled team president John McDonough on the subject of re-igniting a fan base, and he laid out his plan. Now, in the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine, we've chronicled the 'Hawks' path from anonymous-even-in-your-own-town to the talk of hockey world.

Most surprising about the Winter Classis is the implication that the game has actual value in the standings, an absurd consideration for the Hawks for most of the last 15 years when the Red Wings were involved. It's hard to fathom that the Hawks could have reached this point so soon. Will they recognize their own gravitas? As Janis Joplin once sang, "Now that I am here, where am I?"

The Hawks, clearly, are here. The rest awaits.