CONVENTIONAL THINKING: A Recap
Today the Blackhawks Convention felt HOCKEENIGHT deep inside it.
No, wait, that doesn't sound good at all.
Anyway, today the Forks made their annual journey down to the Chicago Hilton for the Blackhawks Convention. And again, the organization of the event was virtually nonexistent.
Everyone I spoke to who was there for autographs talked about what a steaming hot mess it was. Hilton security arbitrarily stopped conventioneers from entering ballrooms, but by not monitoring every stairwell, they were easily circumnavigated. It was not a good scene at all.
In spite of all that, it wasn't too hard to have a pretty good time.
If you wanted autographs, it was a mess, and you had no chance of getting Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews if you weren't a VIP or a hotel guest. In fact, I'm not sure I'd recommend the Blackhawks Convention if autographs are your thing. You'd probably do better scouring the local meet & greets, unless you wanted someone like Glenn Hall, who isn't in the area that often.
For what it's worth, that's not really my thing. The panel discussions are what I go for. I like to try getting in one question at each one, and try to keep it goofy...this year, I asked on the Puckcast if anyone had anything they wanted me to ask, and I got bupkus. So I was on my own. Here's the panels, and questions...
BEHIND THE SCENES AT BLACKHAWKS TV: Panelists, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Troy Brouwer, (Director of Advertising) Patrick Dahl, (Director of New Media and Publications) Adam Kempenaar. Host: (Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development) Dave Knickerbocker. They showed the Hjalmarsson IKEA clip, along with Brouwer's clip with his dog. A lot of discussion of the IKEA ad, along with Brouwer doing an outstanding Hjammer saying "Asperlund". They also showed the popsicle-eating contest between Kane and Toews, anddiscussed how much Toews really didn't want to do it, but once they got in there, Toews' competitive drive kicked in.
So then we got up to the mic:
Fork: [cheap applause line]Niklas, I think I speak for the whole room when I say we're happy Mario Kart is ALL you'll be playing in San Jose[/cheap applause line] (applause). My question is for the production team: Have any players come to you with ideas for vignettes involving other teammates, in order to throw them under the bus?
Dahl/Kempenaar basically answered that nobody's tried throwing anyone under the bus yet. They then talked about how after the IKEA piece, everyone seemed to want to do something like that.
Onto the next panel:
ROAD WARRIORS: Panelists: Patrick Sharp, Troy Brouwer, Steve Larmer, (Equipment Manager) Troy Parchman, (Assistant Equipment Manager) Clint Reif. Host: Sarah Kustok
First of all, Sarah Kustok looks one hell of a lot better in person than I've ever seen her look on TV. She's fine, people. Lots of actually interesting stuff here, more from the equipment guys than the players...until Sharp started talking about pranks and wrestling. Apparently the players like doing all kinds of WWF shit on the road. Also, one epic prank on Jonathan Toews...they were out one night, and they got ahold of Toews' phone. They reprogrammed his phone so when Seabrook called/texted, the Caller ID would display the name of a girl Toews was seeing. Once they did that, they texted Toews, "We need to talk, I'm pregnant." They watched his face drop, then Toews started heading out for some privacy when they told him it was them.
At the mic:
Fork: [cheap applause line] Steve, you're one of my all-timers. As great as it will be to see the Championship banners go up on Opening Night, I hope the next banner to go up has a number 28 on it[/cheap applause line](shitloads of applause, obviously a popular idea). This is for Patrick or Troy: Who will be the first player to wrestle or prank John Scott?
Sharp: "Not me." He then talked about getting the equipment guys to sew players' pockets shut.
BEYOND THE X's AND O's: Panelists: Dave Bolland, Jake Dowell, Bryan Bickell, John Scott, Pierre Pilote Host: Steve Konroyd
First of all, Murdersaurus is Gi-fucking-normous. Also, judging by how many questions were directed to him and concerned fighting, the man is already on his way to being a Blackhawks legend. The main topic of the panel was the roles that individual players serve. We actually got a two-banger on questions here, since LFork also had one. Also, about halfway through this panel was when Twitter lit up with news of the Niemi arbitration award.
LFork: Is it hard becoming someone's teammate after fighting them, or is it hard fighting an ex-teammate?
Bickell: It's part of the game, and once you're teammates, you forget all about that kind of thing.
Fork: This is for Dave Bolland: Now that Adam Burish is gone, who do you think will fill the role of trash talker and instigator?
Bolland: Jake, you gonna do it?
After the panel, yours truly had the honor of breaking the news of the Niemi award to Konroyd.
1961 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS: Panelists: Pierre Pilote, Bobby Hull, Bill Hay, Glenn Hall, Eric Nesterenko, Ab McDonald Host: Chet Coppock
As you could imagine, lots of good stories about the 1961 Championship run, beating the Canadiens in the semifinals and beating the Red Wings for the Cup. There were a couple sound issues with Coppock's mic, and the players were having trouble hearing. Between the panelists hearing issues, and Coppock going back and forth between conventioneers' questions and his own, it was all pretty disjointed. Still, Hull carried this one.
Fork: This is for Bobby Hull: Last spring during the playoffs, you said you'd jump through the rim of your own butt and hang yourself to drink from the Cup. I really don't need to know about the first part, but did you ever drink from the Cup?
Hull: You know, I never did. We got back to Chicago, and we had a party at the Knickerbocker Hotel. Tommy Ivan told everyone to not let me get near the Cup with the quarter magnum of champagne I had. So I never got to drink out of it. Just as well, since people put babies in shitty diapers in it.
THE BROTHERS HULL: Panelists: Who do you fucking think? Host: Dave Kaplan
Bobby and Dennis Hull are two seriously fucking funny guys. This was the one must-see I had on my list, and it didn't disappoint. Dennis told a story about the first time his father saw him play in the NHL. He pulled him aside at the Montreal Forum and Dennis thought he was going to get a warm fatherly talk. His father told him, "When Bobby gets a hat trick tonight, see if you can get me a hat." Dennis also said that Brad Park once said, "Bobby Hull's shot is so hard he can shoot the puck through a car wash and the puck would never get wet. Dennis' shot is just as hard, but he couldn't hit the car wash." Dennis is self-deprecating, of course, he was a helluva player.
Anyway, I asked a question here too. You'll have to listen to the Puckcast to hear about it.
The Niemi arbitration hearing came and went with Antti Niemi getting awarded $2.75 million for one year. Word is also that the Hawks had a contingency contract with Marty Turco for $1.5 million.
A few seconds on Capgeek, with factoring in the Nylandering of Cristobal Huet, gave me this Blackhawks' roster:
CAPGEEK.COM CAP CALCULATOR
Patrick Kane ($6.300m) / Jonathan Toews ($6.300m) / Marian Hossa ($5.275m)
Patrick Sharp ($3.900m) / Dave Bolland ($3.375m) / Tomas Kopecky ($1.200m)
Troy Brouwer ($1.025m) / Viktor Stalberg ($0.850m) / Jack Skille ($0.600m)
Bryan Bickell ($0.541m) / Jake Dowell ($0.525m) / Igor Makarov ($0.552m)
Brian Campbell ($7.142m) / Duncan Keith ($5.538m)
Brent Seabrook ($3.500m) / Niklas Hjalmarsson ($3.500m)
John Scott ($0.512m) / Shawn Lalonde ($0.773m)
Antti Niemi ($2.750m) /Hannu Toivonen ($0.550m)
CARRY-OVER BONUS PENALTY: $4,157,753
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled using the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $59,400,000; CAP PAYROLL: $58,869,090; BONUSES: $285,000
CAP SPACE (20-man roster): $815,910
Also, the Hawks have a year to work on getting an extension done for Niemi. Signing Turco at a huge one-year discount means having to look for a brand-spanking-new goalie again after this season.
To my eyes; signing and keeping Niemi is an absolute slam-dunk.