The ninth annual Chicago Blackhawks Convention takes place today through Sunday, July 17th. Doors have already opened for registration, which began at noon. The event officially begins at 5:00 P.M. tonight.
10,000 fans are expected to descend upon the sold-out event during the weekend at the Hilton Chicago, according to the official press release given to official press (of which I am not,) and, by clicking this link, http://blackhawks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=889415.
No one is more excited to get this season started than the most enthusiastic Blackhawk player ever, Niklas Hjalmarsson.
I was not allowed access to Mr. Hjalmarrson personally, mostly because I never tried to contact him. But, if these photos I snipped from a video interview of Chicago Blackhawk Defenseman Nik Hjalmarsson #4, the day before the 2016 Winter Classic outdoor hockey Stadium Series, hosted by the Minneapolis Wild are any indication, this guy is pumped.
Hjalmarsson may or may not attend the conference, but we don’t know because, as the website above claims, “there will be special Blackhawks guests throughout the weekend.” Who knows? It could be this guy, standing with Hjalmarsson! *
My good friend, and, in my opinion, the best TV Color Analyst there is, ever was, or ever will be, Eddie (Mr “Stop it right there!”) Olczyk has been tapped to be The Master of Ceremonies and will host the opening ceremonies at 5:00 P.M. today in the hotel’s International Room.
I’ve never met the guy, but Richard got to meet him at some client thing through work. Unfortunately, I don’t qualify to go to these events. But, to make it up to me, Richard chatted with Eddie, and told him how cool I think it is that there are people who keep track and know what’s happening in the lives of every family member of the team, equipment managers, and anyone ever involved in the Chicago Blackhawks franchise. And, not only that, Pat and Eddie announce birthdays, and send out get-well wishes to family members who are ill. Most families don’t know that much about their own family!
Richard also told Eddie how much I appreciate, enjoy, and look forward to the very gentle way he shouts to the guy in the booth showing a replay, “Stop it right there!” This is when Eddie is at his best, in my opinion, because he uses replays as teachable moments.
After shouting, “Stop it right there!” Eddie says, “For all you young hockey players out there…” and then continues to use the replay to point out how players either make good moves to help the team score a goal, and on fewer instances, make less than stellar moves. Even though I’m neither young, or a hockey player, I always learn something new about hockey, and most importantly, teamwork.
Blackhawks hockey games are so important to our family, Richard actually drafted up a handbook of what we are and are not allowed to do, and say during games. For instance, if The Blackhawks score while I’m in the kitchen, when I return to the family room, I am immediately banished back up to the kitchen to watch the rest of the game with the dogs.
I don’t mind, though. I get it! I don’t want to be that person; the one who ruins the Blackhawks mojo. If the stick ain’t broke don’t fix it.
On game night, or before an 11:30 A.M. Sunday game (whose idea was that?) Richard always announces, “Blackhawk Rules Are in Effect,” as if we don’t know. If Richard has DVR’d the game, super-duper, double-secret-probation Blackhawk rules go into effect. Richard claims that just by walking past one of us, or, heaven forbid, looking us in the eye, he can tell that we’ve secretly checked the score of the game on our Chicago Blackhawk iPhone app, or perhaps, (for shame!) watched part of the game elsewhere, or even watched the entire game and know who won.
Check out the way my friend, and Cartoonist Extraordinaire, Sharon Rosenzweig, portrayed Richard in the cartoon above. His wardrobe consists of Blackhawks sweaters, golf togs, and suits.
Pat Foley, is, in my opinion, the perfect co-announcer for Eddie Olczyk. His enthusiasm is contagious, and, since we watch every game, we understand their inside jokes, and laugh along with them. Pat Foley’s laugh makes me laugh, and, if you know me, that’s one of my favorite extra-curricular activities.
Pat’s energy never wanes. After the Blackhawks win a game, he says, “We hope you enjoyed the broadcast, I know you enjoyed the outcome.” And, if the Blackhawks don’t win, Pat says, with the same enthusiasm, “We hope you enjoyed the broadcast, in spite of the outcome.”
Eddie and Pat feel like friends we invite into our family room, and, no, I’m not hallucinating (again.) Because of them, I look forward to watching the Chicago Blackhawks, whether they win, or not, although, to be honest, there have been times when games have made me so nervous I’ve had to go upstairs and watch The Kardashians, just to calm myself down.
During this weekend’s frenzy, fans will have the chance to attend Q&A’s, and autograph sessions with players, coaches, and front office staff personnel. There will also be live and silent auctions featuring memorabilia, and game-used equipment! (Febreze sold separately.**)
Watch the excitement on CSNChicago.com. The Opening Ceremonies will also be carried live on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN Radio, and streamed live on CSNChicago.com. Seven panels located in the International Ballroom will be streamed live on chicagoblackhawks.com and mobile devices via the Official Blackhawks App throughout the weekend. For more information, please visit chicagoblackhawks.com.***
* Green-screen photo taken of Niklas Hjalmarsson cut-out, and the real Richard, not a cut-out, taken at the Blackhawks Flagship Store at tree-tirty-tree N. Michigan Ave, Chicago.
** Sometimes I just crack myself up.
*** Totally plagiarized from http://blackhawks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=889415 (Hey! At least I admitted it!)