Strange Things Happen When Too Many People Care About Practice

By Keith Schultz

May 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Viktor Stalberg (25) skates with the puck against the Minnesota Wild during the first period in game five of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

What happens when there is a shortened season with limited practices and the team succeeds more than anyone could have possibly expected. Then the team clinches in five games and actually has time to have practice with every reporter on duty reporting and this little thing we call Twitter?  A total blow up over nothing.

Have I coached teams? yes. Have I won a Stanley Cup? No Have I played sports most of my life? yes Have I ever been to a practice? Of course Do all coaches have whipping boys? Pretty much.

The Blackhawks great run has been without very many practices so what Twitter and Facebook and other sites missed is the whipping boy at practice.  Saturday was message day with Brandon Saad and Viktor Stalberg being moved from their normal lines.  Today, Saad was back with Jonathan Toews on the top line but Stalberg was still stuck in limbo land at practice.  Welcome to the whipping boy or the real example.

Was  Stalberg tearing up the stat sheet in the first round? No Was he a member of the third line that was very disruptive and productive against the Wild? yes  So, one reason Joel Quenneville should be considered for coach of the year is he’s not afraid to make a point.  After Brent Seabrook played a bad period earlier in the year, he sat him the entire 2nd period before letting him back on the ice in the third period.  Now Stalberg took a really bad penalty and wasn’t using his speed to help the Hawks team take advantage of the Wild so here comes Q and the message with practice time.  Two straight practices in the doghouse for Stalberg.

Whipping boys and dog houses are a staple at any practice at any level, but the only reason anyone is talking about it is because all eyes are on one of the few practices of the season.  Every paper in Chicago has a writer following the Blackhawks and with a few strokes on a laptop or smartphone they create a huge stir in the Blackhawks  fanbase.  Normally, we would all be talking like Allan Iverson, Practice..We are talking about Practice, not even a game, we are talking about practice! We aren’t going Iverson because it’s the playoffs and almost every Hawks fans is living and dying with this 2013 unit.

Game #1 is Wednesday night and more than likely Stalberg will be back with his line mates because no matter how much a coach likes a whipping boy they like even less to mess with chemistry which is what Stalberg, Andrew Shaw, and Bryan Bickell have this season.

It’s just practice where points are made for the final goal which is ONE GOAL!!

What do you think? Is there more to this than a whipping boy at practice? Do you think Stalberg will be a healthy scratch Game 1?

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