Hey all, this is Matthew writing - so hackerar wrote a really good recap on the convention but it's a bit long so I thought I'd use a page break. But Russell didn't really write an intro so there wasn't a great place to throw one in so I decided to write something for him.. Anyways.. here's hackerar:
I spent most of the convention attending the various sessions, here are some general thoughts:
8-9 pm friday - Second City Comedy show
The show was mediocre at best, some improv, some sketches, etc. The Second City crew was joined by Seabrook, Burish, and Sharp for a brief skit or two. Their role was to just say a word that came into their head when prompted, so it wasn't anything too challenging, but some of their stuff was funny. Now that I think about it, it was funny because they were doing it and probably wouldn't have been that funny if it was just the second city crew.
While the show wasn't great, the player participation was cool to see. The players put themselves out there in a different capacity and didn't seem too afraid to embarass themselves a little. I think there are definitely players on this team who are "too cool for school" and would not have participated in something this corny, so it really gave me an appreciation for Sharp, Seabrook, and Burish. They knew the fans would enjoy seeing a different side of them and they embraced it.
10:15-11:15 saturday morning - Meet your new blackhawks
I skipped out on the hockey operations session (which was tough) but I really wanted to listen to what Hossa and Kopecky had to say. I knew in advance that they probably wouldn't be terribly profound with their comments, but I was excited to observe their attitudes and excitement levels concerning their new team.
Both players were engaging and seemed genuinely excited to be with the Hawks. Eddie O was moderating, and asked them about what they went through during the brief free agency period, where they came from career-wise, if they have families, what skillsets they provide for their new team, etc. As I had suspected, nothing earth-shatering, but I had never heard either player speak before so it was still worth-while for me to hear their responses. After seeing that both Hossa and Kopecky appeared to be looking forward to playing hockey in chicago, I got even more excited about seeing them on the ice in a couple months.
During question time, I asked Eddie O to speculate on where Hossa and Kopecky might fit into the current line configuration, I should have known better, he just told me that was Q's job and that he wouldn't speculate. Thanks Eddie, I was hoping you would humor me and brighten my day by dropping your knowledge of our team and the of the new players, but no dice. Note: the Czech BFFs seemed to be amused by the random DEE TROIT SUCKS chants that popped up during their session, they are getting a feel for the rivalry and I think they definitely took it as a compliment that we are happy to have them.
11:30-12:30 Saturday - Your 2009 All-Stars
Kane, Toews, and Campbell came in to discuss their all-star appearances. Kane and Toews talked about the significance of their first all star game, and for some reason I don't remember too much input from Campbell. The three players also discussed the playoff run and the many emotions that occured during it. Nothing too phenomenal here, but Kane and Toews did make a point to rip each other when they could get a shot in. They aren't as good as Sharp and Burish, but they're trying and some of it was funny.
I think this whole session is a blur due to the horror that occured after it. Toews was drinking a Coke or something out of a small glass bottle during the session. EEEEEEMediately after the session this 40-50 year old lady wearing a Toews Winter Classic Jersey, walked briskly to the table and grabbed the Coke bottle. As she walked by me on the way out (with the bottle securely cupped in her hands), I noticed a look of pure joy on her face. I understand this practice is somewhat acceptable for 12 year old girls at a Jonas brothers concert, but seriously get ahold of yourself lady! This vicious combination of adolescent girl + crazed blackhawk fan + deranged cougar disturbed me for many hours.
12:45 - 1:45 Saturday - Road to the NHL (Presented by Robert Morris College)
When I originally saw this session I became excited because I thought it would present career paths for a sports tool like me. That being said, I am 24, have a four year degree and a decent paying full time job that I've been at for 2 years, I should probably quit being a douche and accept the fact that I am never going to work in sports. That's neither here nor there. The session really had nothind to do with RMC or my desire to leave my current cubicle in search of a sports related cubicle, it was the Rockford coaching staff, and some young players (versteeg, beach, skille, hendry). The session was pretty blah in my opinion. The rockford coaches rambled about guys going up to the Hawks and coming back down. Each player talked about their respective paths to the NHL, and Versteeg's was probably the most interesting as he described being cut from one minor league squad and then immediately making a team in a more prestigious league.
Note worthy: A young girl asked Versteeg to rap/sing the infamous Fergie song. He was not bashful and performed to expectation, during this awkward performance I came up with a new nickname, "Ver-gie", which probably won't stick, but hey....
2:00-3:00 pm Saturday - He Shoots He Scores!
Foley and Eddie O sat down to talk about how much they love working with each other. It was a clinic on "backscratching", but I really do think they know they are a great team and you can tell that they really do enjoy working with each other, which is nice to see because sometimes it is tough to tell with play-by-play and color teams........ahem Hawk and Stoney......
Foley had some good stories about his career path, growing up in wilmette, going to michigan state, working in grand rapids before getting lucky enough to join the hawks at the young age of 26. I asked Eddie O and Foley which other broadcast team in town was their favorite, Foley said Pat and Ron, I don't think Eddie answered. They were asked Cubs or Sox, Eddie said cubs, Foley tried to dance around it, but kind of said cubs.
I don't remember specifically why, but this was my favorite session. Foley and Olczyk and just awesome, they could be talking about absolutely nothing and most hawk fans would still eat it up.
11:30 to 12:30 Sunday - Coach Q and his crew
This was my second favorite session. As most of us at SCH are, I am all about learning as much on Xs and Os as possible. This session would have been great if Jim Memolo (from WGN) would've not rambled about stupid crap for 40 minutes. I usually like memolo ok, but seriously I want to talk about our players not last year's stanley cup finals. Q, Torch, and Havi talked about the playoff run and the developement of the team thoughout the year as well as the significance of each playoff win. They didn't get into X's and O's as much as I would've liked, but it was still a fun session.
I asked the staff about Kaner's development as a two way player. I wanted to know if they felt he was developing, if he had a geniune interest in becoming a good two way player, and just general thoughts on the subject. The coaches said they had seen some real tangible inmprovement from year 1 to year 2 and they expect that same jump in year 3. They said he knows that he has to play defense in order to to get the puck in advantageous situations to do what he does in the offensive end. One of the coaches mentioned that Carter and Lecavalier (I think) had no sense of defense when they were Kane's age, and that he is ahead of where they were. They made it seem like Kaner has a genuine interest in developing as a back-checker. I know they aren't going to throw him under the bus in front of the fans, but I did feel better after the answer because I am a Kane fan, although I make no excuses for him. I think that fans can deal with Kane if he is trying and has the skill to get better rather than him just being disinterested.
That was what I did all weekend. Sorry for the long post, I hope you have time to sift through it. Post any questions and I'll try to answer them. Even at the end of the long winded post, I still have the willies from the Toews stalker lady, she haunts my dreams.