This weekend marked the Inaugural Chicago Blackhawks Convention. In case you missed it, here's what you missed...

Friday night was the opening ceremony. Since John McDonough has done a bunch of these with the Cubs, you pretty much knew what to expect. The unveiling of the marketing slogan ("One Goal"), and at least one big announcement.

They gave us two. The Blackhawks front office obviously has some HOCKEENIGHT readers, since they announced the dual retirement of #3, for Pierre Pilote and Keith Magnuson. They also announced, to nobody's surprise, that Jonathan Toews would be the Hawks Captain. You read about both of these here first.

They introduced all the players, past and present, which was a treat. There was even an opportunity to meet some players, along with autograph signing tables.

The autograph tables. The first night, Toews was there to sign for Hawk fans. When his time was over, there was still a large line of Hawks fans waiting to get their autographs. Toews wanted to stay, since there was no other obligations for the night.  A chant of "Stay, Toews, Stay" went up, and Toews then continued to  sign.

HOCKEENIGHT has at least one correspondent with experience at arranging autograph signings for memorabilia shows. The fact that fans had no choice but to sit in lines for hours in order to get autographs meant they missed a lot of the other things going on, like seminars,  skills booths,  even Frank Pellico rocking an organ over by where you could score a not-as-bad-as-expected Italian beef. For next year there has to be a better solution for fans to meet players that doesn't involve them sitting in line for hours for each player, and having class acts like Cliff Korroll or Duncan Keith sit there while a throng of people were just looking up at him wishing he was the next guy on the schedule. Either a ticketing system, or wristbands, or tables with more than one player signing. At one point, the signing tables all had people lined up, and if you walked over into the vendor section, there was Jordan Hendry, in his Rockford sweater, looking absolutely bored out of his mind because nobody knew he was there.

The next day (Saturday) again Toews got into an argument with someone from the Front Office, because his time was up, and he wanted to continue signing. According to the printed schedule, he had no place else to be, but there could have easily been some meet & greet that wasn't in the program, something for sponsors or suite customers. Later in the afternoon, Dustin Byfuglien (who looked like he took his offseason conditioning regimen to heart, and also changed his uniform number to #33, depriving us of seeing it retired for Dirk Graham, and also depriving us of the nicknake B-52) literally signed autographs until there was nobody left on his line. Big Buff had a little trouble making the shape for the early Sunday morning signing, but Martin Havlat showed up early. So fuck Barry Rozner. Not that Rozner had anything to say on this particular topic, just fuck him.

Of course, the two main purposes  of the weekend were to drum up some publicity and sell some season tickets. The members of the Hawks ticket office were everywhere, and extremely friendly. In a brilliant PR move, the Hawks actually hired McLovin for their staff.

In fact, a HOCKEENIGHT correspondent spoke with a ticket rep about some group buys for games. Not that one.

But, we will try putting something together for Opening Night, so stay tuned here and our crappy forum. I'm pretty sure we can line up a ride in a squad car for at least one representative of the Blackhawks' ticket office.

So after all these years, the Hawks were able to get enough fans together to fill up the Hilton. Which was great when people started showing up on Saturday night for some black-tie deal, and there were Swerskis and Meatheads all over the Hilton in their Hawks' sweaters. No word on whether anyone tried pairing a black tie with a Hawks sweater. I'm no Cary Grant, but I would think the white Roadie would probably make a better choice for dinner, but the black Alternate would work better for more formal affairs.

There were some bugs to be ironed out, especially in the area of the autograph room, but they were constantly making adjustments throughout the weekend, and it appeared that they will probably come up with something more workable for next season.

Considering the end of the 2006-07 season they literally couldn't give tickets away, it's certainly good to see the city of Chicago getting its hockey pulse again.


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