Captains and Locker Rooms: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is considered one of the premier players in the league, and he has also been considered a top captain. Everyone speaks highly of Johnny, and he has gained the reputation of keeping everyone focused on the task at hand. He always throws aside the temptations of success and over confidence to pull the team through tough times, no matter what. This past season’s playoffs showed us that he is still human. It was veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook who came to the captain’s aid when Toews was struggling. Sometimes we forget that he is only 25 years old due to his attitude and accolades. He is one of the most reliable players in the NHL in all three zones, but we can’t forget that he has had help along the way. A lot of it comes from the locker room. Andrew Ladd and John Madden played integral roles in 2010. 2013 showed us that Seabs wasn’t just a voice on the ice but in the room as well. Toews can’t do everything, and it’s great to see other teammates willing to give their support. One perfect example of the great locker room support goes back to the Detroit series. Toews was struggling, Shaw was out of control, and it was Handzus that stepped in and talked to Shaw. Shaw went on to thank Handzus in an interview for helping him regain his focus. The Hawks have a very strong bond on and off the ice, and I’m proud to cheer for this team.
The Anttis and Finland: I know fellow writer Shawn covered this a bit, but I feel compelled to touch on this as well. New goalie acquisition Antti Raanta will be joining ex-Hawk Antti Niemi for the team Finland tryouts. I agree with Shawn that it is unlikely that Raanta will make the cut, but I still feel that it would be a great opportunity for growth for the young Finnish sensation. Raanta is already accustomed to the larger ice surface and, that will be a nice advantage for him going in. The chance to play on a familiar surface combined with the learning experience of facing NHL level competition is just a great combination. Comfort while adjusting to the NHL talent level. I really hope he gets a chance to play in some real games when the time comes. Unfortunately, he will have to get through a number of top end Finns to get that spot. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the kid.
Olympic Rinks Are Unique Beasts: With all the talks of who is making which countries’ teams, it’s sometimes easy to forget that this won’t be NHL hockey. The larger ice surface has brought some interesting roster choices for Canada and the USA. Players with an edge may be a liability even if they are a bona fide star. These teams will be stacked with very responsible positional players. Russia, Sweden, and Finland will have a nice little advantage since they are well accustomed to the space and style of play. Russia will also have the added jump in their step since it will be home ice. Canada and the USA will really need to get a solid game plan going. This won’t be like the Vancouver Olympics.
Blackhawks Fan Convention 2013: I may have had to turn down tickets to the convention this year, but I’m still excited for it. For anyone going for the first time, I would recommend just staying at a nearby hotel or crash at a nearby friend’s place if possible. Traveling in and out of the city will get tedious if you aren’t fans of public transportation or city driving. These events are always a blast, and it’s great to have the chance to interact with the players.
Hawk Convention Highlight: While staying on the subject of the Hawks conventions, here is a couple of my favorite convention moments.
Use the close captioning option on the first one