Everything Else

It’s that time again! The last happening on the hockey calendar before we head into the summer doldrums and awake for training camp. It’s in the no way at all kitchy, greedy, utterly creepy Blackhawks Convention! We don’t want you going in there blind, so let us provide a guide for all the goings-on this weekend:

Friday

5pm Opening Ceremonies

Every year I hope this is the one where Eddie Olczyk’s hair just gets up, lights a cigarette, and walks off for good. Maybe this is the one. Anyway, watch Eddie try and be overly dramatic for every introduction while they players sweat their balls off behind the curtain being forced to wear the jerseys on a summer day in an overstuffed ballroom. All for the privilege to come out and wade through the teeming masses that they assuredly don’t want to touch but have to (a curious role reversal for Garbage Dick). You have to love that this is called “Opening Ceremonies” for not a sporting event but one meant to drive cash while a bunch of people stand around.

8pm – The Second City

Oh good, time for my yearly rant on why Second City (and IO) are trash outfits. No matter how talentless you are, Second City will run you up the ladder of classes and shows as long as you keep paying. For every Tina Fey or Steve Carrell they produce, there’s a 100 people less funny than the dude in the break room at work you’ve fantasized about taking a scythe too. And a good portion of them will be at this natural disaster, trying to prod stiff and bewildered hockey players through an improv sketch. Oh, and are you surprised Adam Burish is part of this? If Burish couldn’t skate he definitely would have been an IO regular 15 years ago.

Saturday

9am – The Breakaway

Oh man,  if you thought you had enough of Rocky and McD blowing themselves, just you wait, fucko! There’s a goddamn book! They’ll be pushing this “Inside Story of The Wirtz Family Business and The Chicago Blackhawks,” as if there was anymore to it than being born on third, manipulating local laws and taxes to shelter your liquor and real estate business, and falling ass-backwards into a ready-made Cup contender because your father just happened to kick it at that moment. Cunning strategy, really.

10am – Hockey Operations

We might not get the Bowman, MacIsaac, MacIver, and Bernard fatal four-way when we finally find out who was responsible for the Trevor Daley idea, but it wouldn’t matter because McD is going to wander in halfway through this and declare himself the winner and take all the questions.

10:45 – Goal Scorers

Oh sweet lord. A vapid, Trump-supporting, Kid Rock-loving loudmouth in Jeremy Roenick and Patrick Kane together. This is sure to attract the highest quality person.

11:45 – President’s Forum

Oh you thought “The Breakaway” would be all the self-fellating from the top? Guess again, shitbag! McDonough gets one forum all to himself, hopefully taking time out from bullying his employees but no guarantees, to tell you what a great job he’s done in the past 11 years. If anyone asks a tough question, please ignore him shitting himself. He’s a genius, don’t you know?

12:30 – Blackhawks Family Feud

This is hell.

1:15 – Kids Only

A search for the next Joey The Junior Reporter, because Joey has now discovered drugs, poetry, and girls with purple hair. He’s burned all of his Hawks memorabilia.

2:00 – Blackhawks Match Game

Believe me, the Hawks players have been playing “match game” in their heads since this thing fucking started.

2:45 – Blueliners

Chris Chelios and Duncan Keith are there to tell you what it’s like to slash a player in the face. Chelios wins because he got Paul Kariya whereas Keith wasted his moment of madness merely on Charlie Coyle.

3:45 – From Beer League To Big League

“Hey! Remember when the Hawks had a lost season because their front office forgot to assemble a blue line or get a better center than Anisimov or their coach didn’t want to play any of their young players and they had no plan if Crawford got hurt and their television ratings went into the toilet and the building wasn’t full anymore?

“Oh you do? Hmm…crap.”

“But Scott Foster! Wasn’t that fun?”

5pm – Blackhawks TV Originals

I can’t tell you what this about nor do I care to find out because anyone associated with Blackhawks TV has all the panache of a cumquat.

6pm – Blackhawks Game Show

Jesus god there’s three of these things! More Second City! If you’re a tourist from Iowa/head trauma victim you’ll be highly entertained!

Sunday

9am – The Hull Brothers

Do I have to say it anymore? It’s 9am so there’s a small chance Bobby won’t be drunk yet, but he’ll still be an irredeemable asshole. Maybe he’ll choke on his fucking wig already.

10am – Meet Your New Blackhawks!

No!

11am – Life After Hockey

Burish, Bickell, Eager, and Fraser for this one. The latter three look on impatiently while Burish finds any camera left in the hotel to get in front of.

 

Everything Else

So this is a serious question: have you ever attended a Blackhawks Convention, and if so, why? (OK, that was actually two questions but don’t be like that.) Personally I’ve never gone, and I ask because these types of choreographed interactions with autograph signings and Q&A sessions and whatnot generally make me cringe. Plus given my misanthropic tendencies, I usually end up hating public figures (and people in general) once I actually meet them.

Yet this multi-day event has become a staple in the McDonough-Rocky era, and thanks to the former half of that duo it’s a fixture of the Chicago sports scene (can you believe the White Sox do one of these things? I’m a lifelong fan but I would rather eat glass than sit through their attempts to be as popular and loved as the Cubs.) So as it approaches—and the reality draws near of my walk to work getting complicated by there being even more people stumbling down Michigan Avenue without paying attention—I’m curious what fans get out of it, and for that matter, what the team will get out of it.

The corpse of Corey Crawford

The Convention is supposed to be the big reveal that Crawford is in fact not dead! That’s what Stan and the rest of the brass kept saying—he’d be there at the Convention. Which begs a couple questions: first of all, will he actually attend? One would think at this point he’ll have to, regardless of what his actual health is like, because if he’s a no-show, the media and fans who are still paying attention will collectively lose their shit at the realization that Cam Ward is definitely the starter. If they have to go full-on Weekend at Bernie’s with his ass, I’m pretty sure at this point they’d do it.

Second, will he field real questions from fans? Part of why I ask is that I’ve never attended so I don’t actually know how vetted and choreographed any parts of the event really are, but given this team’s penchant for non-speak, I highly doubt they’ll let any meathead fan ask an unplanned, anything-besides-a-softball question, even if it’s as simple as “Hey Corey, is your concussion better?”

So if Crawford will mostly smile, sign autographs and give bland platitudes to the organ-I-zation for sticking by him during his recovery, this big reveal will be the exact opposite—it will answer nothing, nor give fans who parted with hard-earned money any real reassurance that the most important player is functional.

Celebrities…they’re just like us

Is this why people go? Is it to hear Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane pretend to joke around and act like they like each other? Does Duncan Keith have to do any talking? I feel like he would be so awkward at one of those things, and I certainly don’t blame him. Brent Seabrook is not listed as an attendee, which will hopefully fuel some wild speculation. In reality it’s probably because he made a prior commitment to take up residence at a King of Donair or destroy an all-you-can-eat buffet somewhere in Canada.

And what about the coaches and management? Again, these guys talk but never say anything, so what are they going to do to fill the time? My guess is they’ll trot out the same tired lines about “we’re expecting deez guys here to step up and have a big year” and “we’re pleased with the young talent we drafted” and blah blah blah.

I know McDonough values nothing more than the slick marketing ploy and some carefully crafted messaging, but as we’ve covered, the lack of information about the Crawford’s health, the rebuild on the fly vs. win-right-now strategy, why they couldn’t get Hossa’s contract off the books before July 1 and maybe have been positioned to take advantage of free agency—really anything of substance—makes it seem like this Convention is going to be just another time that management passes on an opportunity to connect with fans or media on any meaningful level, especially since, as we’ve determined, they don’t really have to.

Along those lines, I’m not saying Bowman or anyone else should give away any deal that may be in the works. And I don’t think Q will suddenly divulge that he’s going to maroon Top Cat on the third line again just because he’s a crusty asshole who makes crazy lineup decisions. But if they’re not going to say anything and don’t have to, why sit through these events?

Has-been or never was?

Does anyone really care to meet Ben Eager or Colin Fraser now? I certainly hope not. It appears that John Scott will be there too, just as a reminder that sometimes some lucky bastard gets way more out of life than he or she brought to the table, because the universe makes no sense.

And there will be yoga…that’s right, Hawks fans dedicated enough to attend this bullshit-filled marketing stunt…in yoga pants.

Alright, enough snark from me. It may not be my thing but hey, have a good time if you’re going. Just stay the fuck out of the way when you wander north on Michigan.

Photo credit: NBC Sports

 

Everything Else

We here at the FFUD labs get accused of being overly negative. And it’s true, we are, and we need to work on that. When you’ve done this as long as we have, and have to watch the same stupidity over and over again–from front offices, from media, from fans–it leads one to get jaded. There are so many things we do enjoy about doing all of this, we just have to sift through a bit more than we used to to find and hang onto them.

So let me say that the fact that Jaromir Jagr can at his age, be a useful if not plus-plus NHL player is quite amazing. His metrics really do standout, and it probably will be a while before we see someone who does the same thing at his age. Not that someone couldn’t stay in shape that long–hell, Hossa would have done it if his skin would allow–but is the motivation really there when you’ve made so much money and maybe won all that you set out to win.

Here’s the problem with Jagr’s production, though: None of it has mattered in years.