Another training camp fest is in the books. After a long, ugly and thoroughly depressing season of baseball on the north side (and the south,for that matter), leave it to the Hawks to be there to remind me what I love about sports. As advertised, Rocky, McD, etc., did a terrific job of showing the fans a good time at very reasonable prices. I mean, seriously, who DOESN'T believe that the Old Man is spinning in his grave right now over things like 5.00 general admission tickets and, get this, FREE parking. And, yes, I know it's only a practice, etc., etc., but, in an increasingly greedy sports world, it's the thought that counts and the fact that I could give my niece and nephew (ages 6 and 9) their first up close view of the team that I've been shamelessly brainwashing them to love since forever, for under 50.00 is a day well spent.
As for the practice itself, allowing for things like small sample size and occasional distractions that come from constantly having to attend to the kids, a few things stood out (I'm sure I'll think of more later):
1) Count me in on the "Dave Bolland is primed to have a breakout year bandwagon". He was all over the ice like a guy eager to show off the results of his off season training regimen. The added bulk is pretty obvious and I love the swagger. Note to the rest of the NHL: Beware the stronger, faster, better Rat.
2) Duncan Keith is actually starting to look like Duncan Keith.
3) Somebody should take Ray Emery aside and remind him that he doesn't have the back-up role locked up just because he's a veteran. I know timing and positioning don't necessarily come on the first day but, geez, at least show me some energy out there.
4) Scrimmage Game #2 was a lot more fun to watch than Game 1. This will happen when you combine Dan Carcillo with a bunch of kids eager to kick some veteran ass. Lots of hits, a few scrum,s a Bryan Bickell penalty (not an easy thing to accomplish in the fist minute or two of a scrimmage), and Kaner burying one in the shootout. What more could you ask for.
5) Marcus Kruger should feel free at anytime to start doing SOMETHING to live up to his hype as the Hawks' top prospect and, in a perfect world, potential #2 center.
But I'm quibbling here. All things considered, it was a great day on the West Side. I have high hopes that, soon, my nephew will be more interested in having his picture taken with the Ice Crew than with TommyHawk.
And, finally, "Brian Noonan", is the answer to the future family trivia question, "Who was Maggie's and Tommy's first Hawks' autograph"?
Thank God it's hockey season again.