Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks: The Waiting Game

By Gail Kauchak
Apr 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) is congratulated by center Jonathan Toews (19) for scoring a goal during the first period in game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) is congratulated by center Jonathan Toews (19) for scoring a goal during the first period in game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks’ season can’t start soon enough! 

It’s been a very long summer for Chicago Blackhawks’ fans and players alike.  Last season’s early exit has simply extended our misery of a summer with no hockey.  We’ve sifted through the draft, and the losses of Andrew Ladd, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Shaw.  We said goodbye to Bryan Bickell and David Rundblad, and are excited about the additions of Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny.  We’re scratching our heads at the signing of Jordin Tootoo, as well as the re-signing of Brandon Mashinter and Michal Rozsival.   Prospect camp and the convention have come and gone.  And now we’re waiting to see the outcome of the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes.

But all this time, there has been no hockey.  For some reason, this past week has been the hardest for me so far.  I actually thought the opposite would be true.  I thought the start of the Olympics would distract me.  It’s always fun to watch great athletes compete for gold and represent their country.  I am especially enjoying the gymnastics, tennis, and volleyball.  And yes, the swimming has been pretty cool.  But it isn’t hockey.  It makes me miss hockey even more.

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But we’re all in the same boat.  Chicago Blackhawks hockey isn’t going to come any sooner for any of us than October 12th (September 28th if you count the preseason).  With this in mind, I’d like to share some of the ways I’ve been keeping myself busy while waiting for the season.

Hopefully all of you have had a chance to get away this summer and have some sort of a vacation.  Vacations are always a good way to recharge, and try to appreciate your life to the fullest.  I spent my vacation in a pretty typical manner.  Our family went to Wisconsin, and we enjoyed beautiful weather for boating, swimming, and fishing.  But I also had some “me” time.  I chose to read a book.  Not just any book, but Jordin Tootoo’s new book, “All The Way, My Life On Ice”.  Tootoo is the newest member of the Chicago Blackhawks, and I wanted to learn more about him.  We might not know how he is going to help our favorite team, but he is a very interesting man, with quite the life story.  I was inspired to write a post about him.

Upon our return from Wisconsin, we acquired a new parakeet.  The late Chirpy Bird died of old age, and Stripey before him got eaten by the cat (sadly, it’s true).  Anyhow, Herbie Bird is the latest feathered friend to join the household.  Now, for those of you that don’t know much about parakeets, you can teach them to talk.  In between the pretty chirping, there is this low guttural voice that, with training, can come out as words.  Chirpy Bird said, “Chirpy Bird”, and “Let’s go fishing.”  He was also pretty good at belting out my kid’s names.

So naturally, we’re busy working on Herbie Bird.  He already says his name.  I, personally, am focused on teaching him “Hjalmarsson!”.  My husband, on the other hand, is convinced he can instruct him to say, “Too much hockey.”  Can you tell this is a bone of contention in the house?  No worries; I’m still going to watch all 82 games (and the LONG playoff run)!

It certainly helps to confer with your fellow Blackhawks’ fans.   I’m fortunate enough to be a member of a few Chicago Blackhawks groups on Facebook.  Not long ago, another member posted that she had found Chicago Blackhawks camp chairs at the Farm and Fleet store.  Now, I don’t live by Farm and Fleet, so this didn’t really faze me.   But then another member mentioned there were also chairs at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  Now, that’s a whole different story!

I just happened to be out shopping with my daughter at the time.  Because teenage girls have this insatiable need to buy as many new clothes as possible.   Needless to say, we made an extra stop on the way home for mom.  I was the proud recipient of two Blackhawks camp chairs, AND a Blackhawks pillow for the couch!  I had the chairs set up in the living room for a few days, but the ball-and-chain made me take then down (hmm, I’m sensing a theme here).

Can other sports be the answer to our Chicago Blackhawks’ withdrawals? 

I already mentioned that the Olympics is serving as a distraction, but it isn’t quite doing it for me as a replacement for hockey.  I’ve also been a Chicago Bears fan all my life; and I’ll admit I’m excited for this upcoming season.  In the past, head coach John Fox has always done quite well in his second year with a team.   And quarterback Jay Cutler had a pretty good year last year.  This season, he will have Alshon Jeffery (barring injury) AND Kevin White to throw to.

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But then I watched the preseason game this past Thursday against the Denver Broncos.  Ouch!  The Bears still have some work to do on defense, and the offensive line.  I can’t say much more than this, because I got discouraged and went to the other room to watch Olympic gymnastics (and repeat “Hjalmarsson!” over and over again to the bird).

But I must be a glutton for punishment, because we’re planning to go to the Bears preseason game on Saturday, August 27th against the Kansas City Chiefs.   I mean really, it’s a noon game on a Saturday!  The Bears could be terrible, and we’ll still have fun.  I’m hoping that once the Bears’ regular season gets started, it will be a good way to get me over the hump and that much closer to opening night for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Now, I’m not a big baseball fan.  But for many of you, watching the Chicago Cubs has got to be a great diversion.   I know they are, once again, having a great year.  Right now they have the best record in baseball at 73-42 (as of Sunday morning).  The Cubbies also just finished an 11-game winning streak.  And, like hockey, they have games many times a week.  At a much slower pace, mind you, but it’s another form of sports entertainment to keep many people motivated.

One thing hockey fans do have going for them this year is the World Cup of Hockey.  This is an international tournament that will take place in Toronto, Canada from September 17-October 1st.  It features eight teams that will compete in this best-on-best tournament.  Over 150 NHL players will be represented, and most importantly, eight Chicago Blackhawks’ players!  Coverage will be provided by ESPN here in the United States.  We are very lucky, as this should be a great way to get in the hockey mood before the start of the NHL season.

Next: Discussing Campbell's Return

As Chicago Blackhawks fans, this could be just what the doctor ordered.  It’s not our team, but it’s hockey!  It’s a light at the end of the tunnel.  In the meantime, we just have to keep plugging along.  With a little help and support from each other, we can do it!  What have YOU been doing to get through the summer?

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