CHICAGO - The Flyers may yet rally and beat Chicago in these Stanley Cup Finals, but there's one competition between the teams that the Blackhawks already have wrapped up - arena sports statuary.
The artwork outside the United Center is spectacular.
Meanwhile, the lineup of sculptures that adorns or has adorned the Spectrum/Wachovia Center complex is, artistically speaking, the equivalent of the '62 Mets.
During these 2010 Cup Finals, the bronzed Michael Jordan statue outside the United Center has been getting more attention than normal. That's because it's wearing Blackhawks gear, including Jonathan Toews' jersey.
The 16-year-old work is breathtakingly alive, the basketball legend straining and soaring nearly untethered through the West Side air. The only point at which the statue is joined to its pedestal is at one knee.
"Michael Jordan: The best there ever was," reads its inscription. "The best there ever will be."
On the Madison Street side of the building, where its predecessor, the old Chicago Stadium, once stood, is a sculpture that may be even better, the 10-year-old Blackhawks statue.
Beneath a marble version of the team's famed Indian Head symbol, six vivid hockey players, from six different eras of the original-six team's history, are bursting out of the black pedestal as if on a line change.
Sadly, the South Philadelphia sculptures just can't compete. It's as if Jordan's Bulls were paired with the current 76ers.
One of them depicts, if you recall, the hulking likeness of singer Kate Smith, the Flyers' longtime good-luck charm.
Smith, it must be said, was, for all her talents, no Greek goddess. Though the sculptor wisely shrouded her with a floor-length gown, her hefty hausfrau figure would have been better served in a Flyers uniform or a muumuu.
Then there's the statue of Gary Dornhoefer, which depicts the former Flyers winger leaping through the air after scoring an overtime goal to defeat the Minnesota North Stars in the 1973 playoffs.
How such an exciting moment in team history could have resulted in a such a dull sculpture is a question that, like a pointed query to Chris Pronger, will most likely be left unanswered.
The faces of Dornhoefer and the North Stars goalie are as lifeless as Chase Utley's, the moment's emotion uncaptured.
Comcast-Spectacor, however, does earn some props - you should pardon the expression - for having foisted off the worst of its statuary, the hideous movie-prop that is the Rocky statue.
And where is it now? Mercifully gathering dust at the Atwater Kent Museum? Outside a Kensington pet shop?
No, it occupies a place of prominence in front of the Art Museum, where, nearby, Rodin's Thinker still seems to be contemplating ways to dispose of his nightmarish neighbor.