The past couple of weeks have an absolute whirlwind for me as a writer. It all started with the end of the lockout with the site exploding with traffic and tons of news to report. Then I was contacted to take part in an article for the Chicago Tribune on whether hockey fans will come back or not after the lockout. The story, found here in case you missed it, turned out much better than I expected. In fact it landed right on the front page of Saturday's paper! Monday I was contacted about conducting a phone interview with Jeremy Roenick. Of course I jumped at the chance to talk to one of my all time favorite hockey players.
On Thursday evening my cell phone rang, and when I answered it, one of my hockey heroes was on the other line. It was still hard to believe that when started a silly hockey blog for fun, two years ago, it would lead me to talking to JR! What I thought was going to be standard interview turned into two fans talking about hockey. It was an experience I will never forget and will be forever grateful for.
Jeremy will be in St. Paul, MN this weekend to take part in the Red Bull Crashed Ice competition. What is Crashed Ice you ask? It would serve much better for me to show you than try and it give justice by describing it.
The Crashed Ice series is part of the Red Bull Signature Series of action sports that JR calls "progressive and innovative." He went on to describe the races as "hockey mixed with motocross and downhill skiing." Jeremey said that the competitors have a "screw loose, but that it makes it more fun to broadcast." Roenick added "I wouldn't even do it and I'm one of the craziest guys out there." JR was part of the season opening event, in Niagara Falls, that NBC will air this Saturday, 1/26, at 1pm Chicago time.
Roenick has recently added the title of published author to his resume that includes the US Hockey Hall of Fame and respected broadcaster with the release of his book "J.R." in October. Jeremy just concluded a two month, 12 city, book tour that he called "phenomenal." Jeremy says the response and reviews of the book have been better than expected. JR told me he wrote the book just like he played hockey. "I want people who spend their money to either watch me play or read me to get their money's worth." Jeremy will personally sign every copy of the book sold on his website, a great addition to every Blackhawks fan's collection.
Roenick played in the last lockout shortened season back in 1995 so he knows what the players are going to experience this season. He said fatigue will be the biggest factor this year adding that pulled muscles and groins, bad backs and a hectic travel schedule will have to be dealt with. But he said these guys are "professionals that are built like machines" so they should have no problem handling the strain. Roenick also said that there is no time for losing streaks or eles your playoff hopes will vanish.
I asked Jeremy about who his early favorites were to win this year's Stanley Cup. He said that the Pittsburgh Penguins were is choice until Wednesday night's loss. "I don't know how you lose to the Toronto Maple Leafs; that's pretty embarrassing!" He added that the Boston Bruins are going to be tough be this year. "Tukka Rask is going to prove that he should be a starting goaltender." Roenick says he thinks the St. Louis Blues and the Blackhawks are the two teams to beat in the West. "St Louis plays an absolute onslaught defensive style that makes them very difficult to play." JR is very impressed with Patrick Kane's attitude and focus to start the season. A healthy Marian Hossa is also a huge plus for the Hawks this year. Plus you can not count out any team that has Jonathan Toews, who Roenick called "the best captain in all of sports."
We talked quite a bit about Jeremy's days in Chicago and who were some of his favorite teammates. I will cover all of the great stuff we chatted about in part two, which be coming soon.