Photo: Mike Vallely

End Of A Short Summer


UNITED CENTER MAIN LOCKER ROOM
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 9:43AM.

Jonathan Toews: Uhh, guys? Over here, guys? Please give me your attention for a second…

(*mumbling and murmuring gradually subsides*)

Toews: For those of you who were part of the team last year, welcome back; those of you new to the organ-eye-zation, good to see you. I’m Jonathan Toews, I’m the captain of the Blackhawks, and I’m going to get training camp officially underway. You’ve all passed your medicals, so we can—

Patrick Sharp: Actually, sorry to interrupt Johnny, but they just sent this down. Where’s Phillipe Paradis?

Phillipe Paradis: Here!

Sharp: Hey, I have a note from the team doctor here saying there were some irregularities with one of the tests they did yesterday, and they need you down the hall right away.

Paradis: Oh, wow. Okay. Is everything all right?

Sharp: I think so, yeah, it’s probably nothing. But anyhow, we’re in a rush, so they’re coming up to meet you.

Paradis: What, here?

Sharp: No, it’s kinda personal, I guess. There’s no place to change, so just strip down here and dash down the hall to your right two doors, then across the hall and open the red door on your left.

Paradis: Oh, crap. Now?

Sharp: Yeah, c’mon, go! We’ll wait for you, just get on down there. Hurry up!

(*Paradis strips down to his jock strap, dashes out of the room*)

Sharp: Okay, everybody sit tight.

Dave Bolland: We have to wait?

Sharp: Yeah.

Toews: Why?

Sharp: Because the doctor didn’t send me anything. I just sent him buck naked into a room where McDonough is giving a press conference.

(*Door blasts open, Paradis scrambles through and slams it shut behind him, holding it closed*)

Paradis: You SUCK!!!

(*Room explodes with laughter*)

Toews: All right, all right, settle down. Now aside from Sharpie having some fun with the new guys, we all know why we’re here. The Chicago Blackhawks are the defending Stanley Cup Champions, and everyone is trying to make the team. You’ll each have your chance to show the coaches what you can do, and despite what everybody says about the salary cap and all that stuff, EVERY position on this team is up for grabs.

(*Strange slurping, growling and gurgling noises comes from around the corner in the trainer’s supply room*)

Toews: Anybody know what that is?

Tomas Kopecky: Yeah, that’s Kyle Beach. He was trying to eat one of the younger guys, so the trainers had to pry him off and let the kid go.

Toews: Again? What is this, four times now?

Jordan Hendry: Five, if you count the taxi driver he tried to make a snack out of two days ago.

Toews: So why is he making that racket?

Hendry: He’s okay, they let him gnaw on a side of beef.

Toews: Hope this doesn’t get worse when we get out on the ice.

Jack Skille: At least he didn’t try to chew his own arm off again.

Toews: Yeah, can’t have that. Club’s got a lot of money invested in him. Okay, well just ignore him, we’ll talk over it. So I see the usual suspects are back, you guys have fun playing with the Cup? Eh? I know Kaner was — Hey, where’s Kaner?

Marian Hossa: I think I saw him in the hall by the sky box elevator.

Jake Dowell: Oh, no way! That guy wearing nothing but fuzzy girl’s slippers and a raccoon-skinned cap lying face-down in a pile of beer cans, handcuffed to a blow-up doll? I told security to toss the guy out!

Toews: Ah, they’ll probably recognize him… But on second thought…

Brian Campbell: I’ll go get ‘im…

Toews: Hey, thanks Soupy. All right. Who else is here? Where’s Dunc?

Duncan Keith: Yo!

Toews: How are the new chicklets?

Keith: Eh, not bad. I fink they ordered the wong five. My fianfe fev I look like Gawy Bufey.

Toews: Let’s see.

(*Keith smiles, everyone shifts nervously in their seats*)

Toews: I think she may be right about that. Hope they can fix them, otherwise we’ll have to start calling you Bugs.

(*Viktor Stalberg pops his head around the corner of the bathroom entrance, catches Niklas Hjalmarsson’s eye*)

Stalberg: Hey, Hammer — this good? Hmm?

(*Shows Niklas Hjalmarsson how his hair looks from different angles*)

Stalberg: What do you think? Sexy enough? Lots of hot chicks out in the stands today, gotta get the ‘Swedish Wave’ looking its best!

(*Stalberg disappears back around the corner*)

Hjalmarsson: He’s been doing that for the last three hours…

Toews: So okay, enough of that. For the new guys here, does anybody have any questions about the team or what’s expected of them during camp?

Fernando Pisani: Hey, yeah, I do. I noticed when you guys played us last year that when we started up the ice heading towards your goal there were these two guys there trying to stop us. What’s the story there?

Ryan Potulny: Yeah, I saw that too! Is that some special strategy or something?

Toews: Yeah, I thought that might be confusing for you two guys. Those are called ‘defensemen’, and we have six of them on the bench every night.

Marty Turco: Seriously?!? YESSSSSSSSSSSS!!! I KNEW something was missing in Dallas! Damn, I’m gonna LOVE it here…

Toews: Yeah, their job is to stop the other team’s forwards from scoring.

Pisani: Okay, yeah, sorry. They didn’t have those in Edmonton.

Toews: No problem. Anybody else? No? Then okay, let’s get the ball rolling here. Just remember guys, we’re all on the same team out there, so don’t be trying to take anybody’s head off. Everybody give it your best shot, and we look forward to fielding another Stanley Cup-winning team again this season.

Brent Seabrook: Hey, Johnny?

Toews: Yeah, Seabs, what’s up?

Seabrook: Uhh… I think you better come see this…

(*Toews walks over to the end of the locker room, where a large figure is huddled on the floor in the corner, sobbing*)

Toews: Hey man, you okay?

Adam Burish: Hey… (*sniff*) Yeah, I guess…

Toews: Dude, what are you doing here?

Burish: (*sniff*) Well… (*sniff*) I missed you guys…