Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hockey practice

The Blackhawks had Friday off as far as practice went; but Coach Q called the team in for a meeting to discuss issues with the team's current play and to get some things out into the air. Here's hoping that the discussions help the players; stewing quietly on issues is never productive.

I was pretty surprised to find out that the Hawks host a few public practices throughout the season; I don't know how common that is to see among teams that are still mid-season.

I think it's fantastic on several levels: people who follow the team but perhaps can't afford a ticket to the regular games get a chance to see the team; it's obviously a far more intimate arena than the UC; and it's just interesting to see the team dynamic in a different setting than mid-game. So thank you, whoever makes the decision to keep these public practices happening.

Blackhawks practice 3/27/10

Because I only took two shots of this lineup, and this was the better of the two pictures,
I have to guess at some of who the players are based on angle, and who was in the
other picture taken a few seconds before. If I'm incorrect on any, please let me know:

L-R: Andrew Ladd #16, Jonathan Toews #19, Bren Sopel #5, Adam Burish #37,
John Madden #11, ? (can't tell), Nick Boynton #24, Ben Eager #55,
Patrick Kane #88, Patrick Sharp #10

Having finally made it out to one of the Blackhawks' public practice sessions, I do of course have photography to share! Before the pictures, a few quick stories from this afternoon.

- Several of the players tossed pucks into the spectator area, or after the practice, gave away some sticks. As best I could see, they made a point of handing them to kids (awesome!!). Patrick Sharp was standing below me looking up at this girl (below), and he handed the stick up to me to pass to her. The look of grateful surprise on the dad's face was fun. And look how she's holding onto the stick - a future hockey player in the making? :)

Blackhawks practice 3/27/10

It was very satisfying to not only see the Blackhawks players taking time after their practice to sign items for fans of all ages, but to see them make the effort to make the experience special for the kids in attendance. A lot of kids regard sports figures as their heroes and take inspiration from them, so it is a wonderful thing to see athletes still willing to take the time to make a connection with their fans. Kudos, guys.

An extra thank you to Antti Niemi for signing my #31 Hawks shirt. Kiitos! 

- Regarding the sticks that were handed out: I was among the folks waiting to see who was going to come out for signing, and there was a guy standing next to me, actually complaining about the stick that Cristobal Huet had given somebody. Now, granted, my friend Adam, who plays goalie for a rec league, would know far more about sticks than I; but seriously, dude? Complaining about the quality of the stick given to a fan? Sticks aren't cheap; and the players are certainly under no obligation to give them to anybody.

I was momentarily fuming, until I realized this jerk wasn't the one who'd gotten the stick - because if he had, I think I would've had the urge to yank it right out of his hands and given it to a kid or somebody who would've actually appreciated it. You, sir, are an idiot, and a bad example of a fan. I don't know - probably you were jealous that you didn't get the stick. No need to be bitter. Clam it up next time, and don't ruin other people's experience with your whining.

- I also need to point out the annoying guy with a video camera who kept asking all the players who were busy signing autographs - "What about the Stanley Cup?" and "if (they) were going to bring it home to Chicago".  Uh... 'scuse me, dude? Don't you think that's on every player's mind, and what every player in the NHL desires? WTG, Captain Obvious - annoy the players while they're trying to do something nice for the fans.

So... a couple hundred fans enjoying a nice afternoon out; and aside from a couple idiots among the fandom, it was a pretty nice way to spend an hour and a half watching my favorite sports team in action.

Anyway, on to the pictures!

Blackhawks practice 3/27/10

Andrew Ladd, #10

Blackhawks practice 3/27/10

Patrick Kane, #88

Blackhawks practice 3/27/10

Brent Sopel #5, Jordan Hendry #6, Dustin Byfuglien #33
Blackhawks practice 3/27/10

Captain Jonathan Toews, #19

Blackhawks practice 3/27/10

Blackhawks practice 3/27/10

Goalie Antti Niemi, #31

Blackhawks practice 3/27/10

Goalie Cristobal Huet, #39

Blackhawks practice 3/27/10

Patrick Sharp, #10

Blackhawks practice 3/27/10

Captain Jonathan Toews #19, Patrick Sharp #10, Patrick Kane #88


  1. Wow! You're photos are really good! Since it was so crowded at practice, I'm guessing you went on a weekend. You should try catching a practice on a weekday, It's a lot less crowded. Plus the annoying people seem to stay away lol

  2. Thank you very much! Yeah, I would love to go on a weekday - but I have a M-F 9-5 job so unfortunately that's not feasible. :\

    I was actually expecting it to be MORE crowded than it was.


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