Last week I got the chance to spend a few minutes on the phone with one of my all time favorite Blackhawks, Jeremy Roenick. In part one of my interview we got caught up with what JR is up to these days and what he thinks we can expect during this lockout shortened season. We also got to spend a bit of time reliving Roenick's days in Chicago.
Jeremy got a kick out of me mentioning how many number 27 jerseys I still see throughout the United Center. He loves the appreciation he still gets from Chicago hockey fans. Even though we were on the phone I could tell JR was smiling when he said "retire the damn thing!" I told him there has been a lot of debate among Hawks fans on which player should be the next to get his number in the rafters. According to Roenick, "there is not much of a debate." He cited that he is one of only three players in Blackhawks history to score 50 goals in a season and not many players had the passion for the game like he did. He also stated that being in the Hockey Hall of Fame could be a factor on if the number will get retired or not. Both Roenick and Chris Chelios are eligible for the Hall this year. "Cheli is a first ballot Hall of Famer and I would love to get in with him." JR added that "the Blackhawks are important to me and having my number retired would be one of the biggest thrills I could possibly imagine!"
I asked Jeremy what his fondest memory of his days in Chicago was. He had great pride in his voice when he talked about his first NHL All Star Game at the Chicago Stadium in 1991. He called Wayne Mesmer's rendition of the National Anthem that day an "amazing display of patriotism." Roenick said the day became more of a celebration of America, than the NHL. That day gave JR a whole new respect for Blackhawks fans and their passion.
Next we talked about some of Roenick's favorite linemates in Chicago. He mentioned that it was Steve Larmer and Michel Goulet who were the biggest influences on his young career. "Those two guys taught me the ins and outs and dos and don'ts of being a professional." He added that he was very lucky and "couldn't have had two better guys to mentor me." But he said it was Tony Amonte who was his favoriteline mate by "a country mile." JR added that the two of them knew each other so well, since they where kids, that it made for some great on ice chemistry.
On the flip side, I asked Jeremy about which player he hated the most to see lined up on the other side of the ice during the National Anthem. Without any hesitation he replied Mark Messier. He said Messier had "one of the most chilling facial expressions lining up for the first faceoff." JR added that Messier was very intimidating to play against because of his "I'm going to eat you alive look" on his face. Roenick was always blown away by his talent and determination.
I wrapped up our chat by asking Jeremy if this was the season that he and Mike Milbury finally drop the gloves on set. JR enjoyed the question and said "boy when disagree, we really disagree." He said that he and Milbury love each other off camera but when the disagree on camera "the fireworks definitely go off." I think we all can agree that their confrontations do make for great television.
I want to thank Jeremy for taking a few minutes out of his busy schedule to chat with me. I am very proud to have him be a part of Second City Hockey. He was very gracious and easy to talk to, a great experience for sure.