*Picture courtesy of HockeyBroad *
It wasn’t a familiar feeling in the fall of 2012 for hockey fans. There was no excitement around the battle at training camp. There was actually little to be optimistic about considering the rumours in the media that a NHL lockout was inevitable.
It was a long and drawn out process for some fans, while others threatened that they were taking their passion to alternative hobbies like basketball, football and/or knitting. Well I think the latter possibly took up poker because a lot of them appear to be bluffing.
Early reports show TV ratings, arena attendance and overall excitement to be back in full force. The team’s marketing departments have implemented their contingency plans to win the fans back; super spinster John McDonough must be licking his chops at this challenge (he even worked himself into the commercials). Even though the fans claim to see through these ploys, they still can’t pry themselves away from the game they love.
Throughout the lockout, players shared their thoughts (some stupidly on Twitter) and tried to show their compassion for the hockey-less fans out there. While some of these players committed hours upon hours in the boardrooms; some played in their homeland and others overseas.
When the new CBA was finally signed, players started filing in for a mini training camp. Most of them stressed that they worked hard to keep themselves in shape over this extended time, others mentioned how there’s nothing you can do to simulate the game experience and it’ll take some time.
I was really curious in hearing early reports in camp after hearing offseason tales of the Kane’s (Patrick and Evander) and who’s better at beer pong, Claude Giroux or Brent Seabrook? These players owed it to the fans who came back (or never left) to show up in shape and create a quality product on the ice. I played a lot of hockey in my time and yes, I understand after that kind of hiatus, getting back up to game speed will take a little time. But then I think, my personal experience was a summer layoff leading into recreational hockey and they are paid (very handsomely) professionals. SO NO SLACK FOR YOU!
I sit here and reflect on the Blackhawks 5-0 franchise record start to the season and weigh the pros and cons. There isn’t much not to like so far. Some being the positive storylines that I highlighted in my last blog: the use of their depth, the progression of support players and Patrick Kane playing out of his mind.
Outside of all that, can we just stop and appreciate one thing? Effort. The Hawks for the most part have had a lot of the same personnel since their dismantling of the 2010 roster and we’ve witnessed a lot of sluggish starts and “where’s the oxygen tank” finishes.
This current roster has come in focused, said their apologies to the fans and has got down to business. Hawks fans can pick apart their faults because that’s what they’re used to doing, but one thing cannot be denied, they have left it all on the ice for their fans.
Kane looks like he has something to prove, Hjalmarsson looks like a different human being, Keith looks rejuvenated and Crawford looks like he’s on a quest to sell more #50 Indianhead jerseys. Overall as a team they’re playing a full 60 minutes, attacking their opponents in waves, never fraying away from the game plan.
The Blackhawks head back to the UC and look to go 6-0 vs. the Red Wings tonight. The Winged-Wheel come in 2-2 looking a little depleted with their Lidstrom-less blueline, which has injury issues as well. But this is a proud organization, led by a great coach and always provides plenty of challenges.
So be polite and take the time to salute this effort when you watch your Blackhawks tonight or they’ll turn this winning streak around and head home!!!
Ty Cam out!
Filed Under: Chicago Blackhawks
About the Author: I am a rare Chicago Blackhawks fan from Canada, one might describe me as a hockey connoisseur and a solid checking line centre to your local rec hockey team. I once lived in a town of 500 people and now work in the hockey mecca that is Toronto. I work in the wonderful world of Advertising and these opinions are one of my own and not of my company - don't get it twisted.