Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Blackhawks Season Over, Team Looks to Future...

Many of you are still trying to get over the Sunday night loss to the Kings in OT.  I join you in the slow healing process.  It will be difficult to watch the Stanley Cup Final.   Without a dog in the fight, I may just watch reruns of "Wicked Tuna" (yeah, it's a guilty pleasure show) I have saved on my DVR.

I have to commend the Blackhawks organization (say it Canadian style, it's much more fun), after a day off Monday, they made GM Stan Bowman, Coach Q and seemingly every player on the roster available to the media.   That rarely happens in the other sports that I've covered, including baseball and football for sure.   It's a true sign of the respect that the team has for it's fan base and for those that cover the team.  We were in the United Center press lounge for nearly 3 1/2 hours when it was all said and done.

There were a few main themes of the day.  Disappointment with the way the season ended, a vow to bring back many of the young core players on the team, and a hunger to bring the hardware back to Chicago.  Sometimes at these media events, the words are hollow, and unbelievable, this was not the case Tuesday.  There is a resolve and belief in that room and in the front office that there is more winning ahead.  I know that doesn't mean much now, but it doesn't seem as though, money will be an object to get in the way.

Early in GM Stan Bowman's question and answer session, he was posed the "How big of a priority is it to sign Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to long term extensions?"   Seeing as though both super stars are entering the final year's of their deals that pays them each around $6 million (according to, the answer was not surprising:

“It’s the highest priority for us, looking at next year there’s no doubt that’s what we’re going to do.  I made it clear we’ve never waivered from that.  There’s no doubting the importance of those two players.”, Bowman said.  He's aware of what these two have done, not only on the ice, but off, “when Patrick and Jonathan came onto the scene it really sort of breathed life into the franchise and into our team, I think there was excitement, and certainly the success of the team has helped reach the level that it’s at now, they’ve played a huge part in this”.

Bowman didn't anticipate trouble in resigning Kane or Toews, "I mean I don’t want to speak for them but I know in my conversations it’s been always very positive.  They’ve loved the experience here." 

The 26-year old Captain Toews, agreed, "Who could ever think of a better situation to be in, I think back to the day I was drafted and I absolutely had no idea that all this would be in store for me in my short career so far, been so fortunate to be a part of an unbelievable group of guys."  Toews added, 
"to see the growth of this franchise and the city of Chicago and the amazing fans that we have here, There’s no doubt in my mind, that there’s no better way to have it I guess as a hockey player, with that said, things will take care of themselves when it comes to that, but yeah, that’s where I’m at.

Kane chimed in, "We both love it here in Chicago, and we love playing here and having the chance toe win every year, we’ll see what happens."  He added that the two (he and Toews) haven't discussed the fact that their last extensions came at the same time and paid them the same amount of money.  
Toews and Kane
Courtesy Chicago Blackhawks
Bowman knows that these are two players that are good for the team and the city, "the one thing I know about both of them is they want to win. I mean bottom line, you take all the other things and set them aside they’re winners and they want to win, and we’re committed to winning, and we’re going to do everything we can year after year to be a team that has a chance to win.”

Sounds good to me. 

Kings and Rangers

All I will say is, Rangers in 7. Yeah, I'm still bitter.  My guess is that NBC will be bitter when they see the LA market TV numbers.  Yikes. 

Best in the Biz

Want to tip my 'hockey helmet' to the best radio duo in the NHL, John Wiedeman and Troy Murray. I so appreciate how they welcomed me into the booth, as I filled in for Judd on several pre/post game shows during the season and into the playoffs.  

It's amazing to me how John is able to call the constant flow of action, as smoothly as he does. I've done a lot of basketball, but even that isn't as fast paced as the action in hockey, add in the fact that he has all those great names to pronounce and he's quite a hockey broadcaster.  He's quite a human being too. 

Troy Murray played the game at a very high level and adds great expertise on the broadcast as well.  He's pretty honest about things, doesn't make excuses for the players but yet doesn't rip into them.  It's a great and delicate balance he strikes and man does he know the game.  I'm in his debt for teaching me so much about the game in the short time I was with them, much appreciated!

Thank you also to all the Blackhawks fans that took the time to Tweet me and share some kind words about my work with the Hawks.  I sincerely appreciate it.  

That's all for now!!  


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