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Blackhawks Convention: Wrapping up

Ice HockeyChicago BlackhawksBrad RichardsJonathan ToewsMarian HossaNiklas HjalmarssonMichal Rozsival

Sunday 11:50 a.m. Everything is wrapping up now at the Chicago Hilton as the 2014 Blackhawks Convention comes to a close. 

A few interesting things to note on the final day: by far the best thing on sale at the convention was a Jim Cornelison bobblehead doll, complete with with a voice-over of him singing the national anthem at a Hawks game.

During the social media panel, Andrew Shaw, Corey Crawford and Brandon Saad were asked which Blackhawk currently not on Twitter would be the most fun follow. All three said defenseman Duncan Keith, while joking he probably wouldn't make the organization too happy. 

When talking about the Winter Classic and the Hawks appearing on the HBO show "24/7," defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson wasn't worried about getting caught on camera in a negative light.

"I swear in Swedish," Hjalmarsson said.

Sunday 9:30 a.m. We're back at the convention for the final few hours. Things got underway Sunday morning with a panel on life outside the rink with Bryan Bickell and former Hawks Eric Daze, Eric Nesterenko, Brent Sopel and Mike Stapleton. 

Daze had some interesting thoughts on the final few years of his career and his struggle with retirement.

"The last three years were really tough on me," Daze said of the end of his playing days, after injuries took a toll on him. "You’re trying to figure out what to do and how to do stuff. You have this schedule since you’re 16 years old and once it’s gone you never get that feeling back."

Since his career ended in 2006, Daze said the two biggest improvements within the game are the speed and the amount of blocked shots.

"Now you can’t just shoot the puck," Daze said. "That’s a huge difference."

Some of the more interesting panels today include a discussion on outdoor games, and the upcoming Winter Classic, along with a panel on social media.

Saturday 4:30 p.m. It should've been a time for Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw to spend an hour in embarrassment. Instead, when Shaw and winger Brandon Saad sat down for a panel with their fathers, the pesky third-liner did everything he could to own the situation.

Case in point: When Shaw was asked about his twerking during last year's convention, he told fans he learned it all from his father, Doug.

"He’s got a famous move he calls the 'Dirty Doug,'" Shaw joked. "No, he’s not going to do it."

The only time Shaw's father had a chance to dish anything back at his son, telling fans the worst thing the forward did as a child, he had to stop himself.

"I can’t tell that story," Doug Shaw said. "My wife would kill me."

Andrew Shaw wins this round.

It was just as normal for Shaw to play around with the crowd as it was for Hawks captain Jonathan Toews to address them seriously.

When talking about the Stanley Cup Final last year, the captain started getting defensive.

"I just watched Game 5," Toews said. "And I don’t want to bring that up again."

In fact, the only reason Toews had to justify taking a selfie with the crowd during Friday's opening ceremony was because without the Stanley Cup to show off, he didn't have much to talk about. It only took a few days of Hawks PR pressuring him into taking the photo before he gave in. 

Saturday 12:45 p.m. The first time Blackhawks fans had a chance to hear center Brad Richards speak, they gave him a standing ovation. Of course, this was only seconds after fans did the same for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. 

Nonetheless, it was a welcome to Chicago that set the tone for the season ahead for Richards. All eyes are on the next person called on to solve the Blackhawks' so-called second line center crisis. 

"New York is different than anything you could ever imagine," Richards said. "It was amazing to get into a market where hockey was like that and I think I’ve stepped it to another level coming to Chicago."

There'll be much more to come on Richards shortly.

Still, the panel focused more on Toews and Kane than their newest teammate, and when asked how the two are getting along at this point in their careers, Toews answered just the way you'd expect.

"We don’t play on the same line together, so that problem has been solved," Toews said. "We don’t room together, so that problem has been solved. Our friendship has never been better."

After a quick dance-off between Toews and Kane, yes that happened again, Kane talked about watching the draft and hearing prospects talk about how they model their game after his.

"Its pretty cool because you try to think of yourself as a unique player," Kane said. "It was enjoyable."

Asked what each would do if Kane and Toews traded bodies, the two traded shots at each other.

"I’d be in working out every day," Kane said. "He’s got tiny muscles. Or I’d grow a mullet."

Added Toews, " I’d give up all hope and let myself go."  

Saturday 11:15 a.m. With a short break between panels, here are some of the better quips from the "Baby Boom" panel featuring defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, defenseman Michal Rozsival and winger Marian Hossa talking about being dads.

Hossa on which Hawks player he wouldn't let his daughter date: "Uh, can I give you a list?"

Hossa on picking baby names: "Pretty simple, we just go in the internet,"

Hjalmarsson on being away from home so soon after his child was born: "I’ve been away for three days and my wife sends new videos. There's fear of missing a lot of first time stuff. First step and first word. They change so fast."

Rozsival on raising kids in Chicago: "Since my two boys both play hockey they get to experience great hockey. Great coaching. They love to play. I try to stay away from the ice. I’ve been on the ice with my kids to coach, but more often now I’m just kind of being dad."

All three agreed that if they were in desperate need of a babysitter, forward Andrew Shaw would be the last person they call. 

Saturday 9:45 a.m. Things are off and running on Day 2 of the Blackhawks Convention. Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough, Stan Bowman and a few other key members of the Hawks brain trust were on hand for the first panel of the day to talk about running the organization.

Among other things, McDonough was asked about the possibility of Chicago hosting an NHL draft or All-Star Game soon and said it's not on the Hawks' immediate radar. Even so, he pretty much gave a nod to the power the Hawks have with the league by saying if the organization was ready to host such an event, they could get it done.

"The league has been very good to Chicago," McDonough said. 

Some things to watch for the rest of the day: Hawks captain Jonathan Toews, winger Patrick Kane and recently signed center Brad Richards will talk to fans at 11:30 a.m. about what it takes to succeed in the playoffs. This'll be the first time fans get to interact with Richards since he agreed to terms with the Hawks earlier this month.

One panel that could provide some of the better moments of the day will take place at 3:15 p.m., when the parents of Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad take the stage to talk about raising a pro hockey player. 

Friday 7:00 p.m. Just after 5:00, after a hearty National Anthem from Jim Cornelison, after a bevy of team alumni took their place on stage and after a tribute video to Hall of Fame inductee play-by-play announcer Pat Foley, the Blackhawks paraded down a walkway at the Chicago Hilton, just like they had each of the previous six years.

Unlike the previous six years, Hawks captain Jonathan Toews took out his phone on stage for a quick selfie with the capacity crowd. 

"I don't have Twitter," Toews said. "But I'm sure the Blackhawks will tweet that later."

With that the seventh annual Blackhawks Convention was underway. And aside from the a few absent players like winger Kris Versteeg, who is getting married, and defenseman Nick Leddy, who had a prior commitment, there was still the overwhelming undertone that with the Hawks currently above the salary cap, one of the players who was greeted with a hero’s welcome won't be with Chicago when the 2014-15 campaign opens.

“A lot of things change between now and then,” Hawks GM Stan Bowman said. “You have to display some patience. Like I said all along, we have some ideas of what we’re going to do,”

One of the players often mentioned in trade rumors, Hawks defenseman Johnny Oduya, provided a surprise to fans when he appeared at the Hilton with a walking boot on his right foot, which the veteran broke during the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Kings.

The Tribune’s Chris Kuc goes in-depth on both of those topics in tomorrow's paper. 

Friday night was also the first public appearance in Chicago for center Brad Richards since signing a one-year, $2 million deal.

He's getting thrown right into the fire during his first stay in town. Starting tomorrow he’ll have to face a few thousand fans over the next two days as he gets acclimated to his new organization.

“You can tell the Blackhawks are a big part of this town,” Richards said.

It’ll be fun to see what the fans talk to him about during the Q&A sessions coming up. We'll be sure to keep you update on all of that and more.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Ice HockeyChicago BlackhawksBrad RichardsJonathan ToewsMarian HossaNiklas HjalmarssonMichal Rozsival
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