You probably have seen it by now, as the story was shared on Twitter by our compadre Fifth Feather and on NBC Chicago by friend of the program James Neveau and many others. If you haven’t I’ll do my best to recap.
About a week ago at Johnny’s Ice House West, the official practice home of the Hawks and also home to several men’s and children’s leagues, three men were mugged in the tunnel to the garage after their men’s league game. One was pistol-whipped. This was shared on Facebook by several people, and I’m not sure exactly how but it got the attention of NBC 5 who did a piece one it.
Tim O’Shea, who plays (or should add, “played”) at Johnny’s spoke to NBC 5 on the piece about the dismissive response he got from management when he raised questions about security at the facility. He was told basically to “go play in the suburbs.” After Tim appeared on the piece, he was banned by general manager Kevin Rosenquist for life. Which seems a total fair and in no way unhinged response for airing concerns that clearly weren’t being addressed. Apparently, Johnny’s public relations theory is “Snitches wind up in ditches.”
Let me be clear that the Hawks themselves didn’t make this decision. Johnny’s is independently managed, from what I can gather. But the Hawks aren’t completely clear of it either. Because it’s their logo on the building, it’s what they call their practice facility, and they just so happen to be holding perhaps the facility’s biggest event there next week, Prospects’ Camp. Gee, that wouldn’t have anything to do with the place wanting to keep things on the hush-hush, would it?
It also fits a pattern of the Hawks, or organizations that are affiliated with it, being overly careful in just what kind of image or message they portray. If you’ll allow me to go back to something we’ve covered heavily basically since the first year of our inception, this doesn’t feel all that different than CSN’s axing of Josh Mora.
For those new, full disclosure, Josh Mora is a long time family friend of mine, and I’ve known him for 25 years (Jesus, I’m old). So there’s probably a little bias here. If you’re new to the Hawks thing and our blog, Mora was the Hawks guy on CSN, basically pre and post game with Steve Konroyd and their main reporter. This was Josh’s dream job, as he grew up here, a season ticket holder in the old Stadium, all of it.
When Dale Tallon was fired as GM, basically for the RFA snafu where qualifying offers weren’t mailed on time, making a host of Hawks unrestricted free agents and some (*cough* Versteeg *cough*) richer than they should have been, Josh let it slip that perhaps Tallon was torpedoed from within. It made a whole lot of sense, as this was not a trivial task he would have been in charge of and it was no secret McD and Rocky wanted to move Stan Bowman into the GM chair.
For this report, or even hinting at a report, CSN fired Mora. The Hawks had nothing to do with it, but I’m sure CSN was pretty frightened of what the Hawks might do if he wasn’t. CSN is partly owned by the Hawks of course, but operate independently. Supposedly.
Feels the same way here. Something that would not reflect well on the Hawks, indirectly as it might be, and some stooge merely doing the right thing or his job gets punished.
It’s different than the Susannah Collins incident of a couple years ago, and yet doesn’t feel totally unrelated either. A refresher there: Collins made a slip of the tongue on air, saying the Hawks have “had a lot of sex” instead of “a lot of success.” Though both were true I’m sure. This of course became an internet sensation, and the added attention brought to light some kinda-blue internet comedy stuff Collins had done in New York before being hired at CSN. These were hardly scandalous, but they were too much for the Hawks and had her fired.
Of course, this was hypocritical as fuck. The Hawks trot out scantily clad women at every TV timeout at the United Center, mostly so the overweight guys in the Kane jerseys can see if their lifeless members (which they can’t see anyway) can be teased toward engorgement. It’s as empty and objectifying of a tradition as can be, but talk about blowjobs in a five-year old internet video before you were an employee and you’re fucking outta here, you slutty slutty slut slut.
This also doesn’t include trotting out Bobby Hull as a team representative for the seven minutes a day he can stand up straight, even though Hull has repeatedly been accused (and convicted) of beating his wife. But hey, he scored a fuckload of goals so who cares if he punched up his wife? We’ll give him a statue even, which basically is an affront to every woman out there.
Again, this thing at Johnny’s wasn’t the Hawks decision, but it is another case where someone affiliated with the Hawks is utterly terrified of the message that will get out and goes out of bounds to try and cover it up. Much like the Hawks control every message. You’ve heard the Hawks exploring trying to build their own, exclusive practice facility away from Johnny’s, and I’m sure the condition of the neighborhood has something to do with it. No doubt at some point some player has said he’s not totally comfortable rolling his $40,000+ car west of Western.
I don’t want to put it on the Hawks to be responsible for the neighborhood around it. They don’t have to do anything about it. And yet something doesn’t feel right about it, does it? If the Hawks just pick up and leave because it’s a shitty neighborhood after they basically profit from the cheap land? Something doesn’t feel right.
But then I guess it’s not what they’re selling, but what we’re buying, isn’t it?
Oh hey, look at that , here come the Toews and Kane extensions! Now no one will care or notice! Anyway, I’ll be back later to talk about that when we can dig up the numbers the Hawks don’t want us to see.