Day 3 of the Chicago Blackhawks Convention was the shortest day. After fighting my way through a half marathon being run by the Hilton, I got into line for an event in the Grand Ballroom. The Grand Ballroom was hosting picture opportunities with Blackhawks alumni Denis Savard and Steve Larmer, as well as current Blackhawks Marko Dano, Ryan Hartman and Mark McNeill. Since I had seen all the young talent at Prospect Camp last weekend, I went for Savard and Larmer. My picture will be posted on twitter after I receive them.
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After taking a picture with the two Blackhawks legends, I wandered around the last bits of the convention. I ran into John McDonough. I was able to get a picture with McDonough and informed him that the Blackhawks’ best move was getting him from the Cubs. He thanked me for the kind words. After my encounter with the CEO, I went to the “Meet Your New Blackhawks” panel. The panel featured Dano, Trevor Daley, Viktor Tikhonov, Vincent Hinostroza and Kyle Baun. Steve Konroyd was the moderator of the panel. This panel was very funny and enjoyable. Daley was very personable and said some great things. Konroyd asked why players were excited to join the Blackhawks. All the young athletes said they admired the organization and they wanted to win. Daley had the quote of the panel: “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Daley also said that Patrick Kane was the hardest player for him personally to defend. Throughout the whole panel, Daley and Tikhonov had the best answers.
The others were not as well-spoken as the two older players (Daley is 31 Tikhonov 27). Hinostroza is a confident young kid. Dano seemed uncomfortable, and Baun was doing his best Molly Shannon. He had his arms under his armpits the whole time. I also learned that Tikhonov does not have a Russian accent. Tikhonov spent several years in the states as a child. His late dad, Vasily Tikhonov, was an assistant with the San Jose Sharks, Kansas City Blades and Kentucky Thoroughblades. Viktor spent 10 years in the U.S. before heading back overseas.
Da Windy City
After watching a panel full of new Blackhawks, I visited a panel full of alumni. I saw the “Oh So Close” panel featuring the 1971 Blackhawks. That team blew a 2-0 Stanley Cup Final series lead to the Montreal Canadiens and went on to lose in 7. The panel featured Lou Angotti, Tony Esposito, Dennis Hull, Cliff Koroll, Eric Nesterenko, Pat Stapleton and Bill White. Blackhawks team historian Bob Verdi moderated the panel. All the alumni expressed how they are proud of their run for the Cup, but the loss in Game 7 in ’71 still haunted them. Angotti was upset when talking about it. Tony O still blames himself for the defeat to this day. Hull likely would have won the Conn Smythe trophy had it not been for Ken Dryden’s victory in Game 7. Koroll spoke passionately about how the Blackhawks alumni have been welcomed back by the Rocky Wirtz regime. Nesterenko was the most interesting man in the world before the term existed, according to his former teammates. Stapleton and White shared stories from their playing days in the AHL and NHL. This panel gave me perspective on the team’s past and how great its current situation and future are.
The last panel of the convention was the “Kids Only Press Conference.” This panel was very cute and funny. Andrew Shaw, Trevor Van Riemsdyk, David Rundblad and Bryan Bickell were the featured panelists. NBC Chicago’s Peggy Kusinki was the moderator. Some of the best questions were, “Who is your favorite princess?”, “Who is your favorite super hero?” and “Do you miss Patrick Sharp?” Shaw was the star of this panel and made everyone laugh on multiple occasions.
That was the end of my first Blackhawks convention. My overall impression is that the panels are the way to go. The panels gave fans insight to players that we do not normally get. Despite having a good time, there were a few flaws with the convention. The lines for autographs and pictures were not marked at all. I literally had to ask people standing in line what they were in line for, and people were not stopped from cutting. I had two girls cut half the line for the Stanley Cup. I was nice and did not rat them out because I was guaranteed a picture with it.
I will attend the Blackhawks Convention again next year, but I think I’m going to try the hotel package next time around.
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