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

Though I’m not sure you can have a staring contest via conference call, if anyone could it would be Stan Bowman.

We know that Bowman hates talking to the media, and even if he did it the only thing he’s good at is saying nothing. His update on a Marian Hossa injury years ago of, “Well he’s on schedule, but there’s no timetable,” being pretty much the perfect example of what we get when Bowman gets a microphone in his face. At best, he’s a master at saying exactly nothing. It was more of it today.

So we’ll get to the top of it, which is that the situation on Corey Crawford is exactly the same. Or more to the point, ain’t nobody sayin’ shit. There’s no update, and if there’s a key quote it’s, “We have no reason to believe that Corey won’t be ready for training camp.”

It’s interesting wording there, because there’s also no reason to believe he will be either. He hasn’t been on the ice, no one’s talked to him, and the Hawks can’t tell us where he is. At least not until the convention they can’t. And at this point it sounds like they’re going to dump this on Crow himself, which is how that phrase plays out.

It wouldn’t be the first time the Hawks have made a face at someone recovering from a head injury, if indeed that is what’s going on here. Jeremy Morin’s career stalled out here partly because the Hawks thought he took too long to come back from a head injury, and thus he wanted to fight everyone when he came back. They started whispering that Dave Bolland was taking too long to come back from a concussion as well, though we all later found out Bolland didn’t have a brain to bruise.

But of course, it might not be just a head injury, as those are the whispers that keep popping up more and more with all this idleness. Which, and we’re just speculating because it’s all we can do, if it is the recovery is entirely up to Crawford. You can’t put a timeframe on something that isn’t a physical injury, one would think, if that’s what we’re dealing with. And again, the “we have no reason to believe” kind of absolves the Hawks of doing anything, not that anyone thinks they’ve done anything wrong here.

It could not be a murkier situation, and maybe the Hawks are counting on everyone counting on it being cleared up at the Convention where Crawford is slated to appear. Except he could come out for his ovation at the opening ceremonies, and then basically not speak to the media from there on out and that would be very Hawks.

At this point, I’m not going to believe that Crawford is going to be at training camp on time, or even the regular season, until there’s reason to. If he were working out, you’d think they’d tell us. If he’s skated, you’d think they’d tell us. Or he has and had to stop. Really any conclusion you draw is not a good one, and we may find out more if the Hawks go out and get not just a credible backup but someone who might be a 1B.

-Other than that, Bowman’s call was a masterclass of being a mushmouth. They may move up in the draft, they may not. They like a lot of guys at #8. They’re trying to improve short-term and long-term. They may trade, they may not. They may sign guys, they may not. If I didn’t know any better I’d swear he was a GM.

With the rumblings of John Tavares staying put the odds of the Hawks making a huge splash went down, because there’s really only one or two other things to make a big splash with. John Carlson really doesn’t make that much sense for how expensive he’s going to be, and James van Riemsdyk probably does. Past that I can’t help you.

Sadly, Stan didn’t take the opportunity to completely rule out signing Slava Voynov, because if you’re an organization that has greatly welcomed and put up a statue of pieces of shit in your past, really why would you? He gave it the boilerplate “we can’t talk about anyone right now” instead of, “God no, I don’t want that fucking scumbag anywhere near the scumbag I already have” but then again no NHL GM has.