The shock of the Chicago Blackhawks losing to the St. Louis Blues on Monday night has not quote worn off yet — at least not among the die-hard fans who didn’t want to even think about baseball until June. Surely, weren’t the Blackhawks supposed to win the Stanley Cup this year, becoming the first team in almost two decades to win back-to-back championships? Alas, it was not meant to be. Game 7 was close. The entire Blackhawks-Blues first round series was close. But being close isn’t good enough when you are down a goal on the losing end.
Still, let us not forget that the 2015-16 season was nothing to frown upon. From on the ice, to behind the bench, to the front office, it was a great season overall for the Chicago Blackhawks. Here are the top six highlights from the year that was.
Like many kids growing up in the 1980s, I played with G.I. Joe action figures. Each figure had an interesting code name like Snake-Eyes, Shipwreck, Roadblock or Cobra Commander, had a ton of poseability — including swivel-arm battle grip! — and came with some pretty cool weapons.
Another great thing about G.I. Joe action figures was that each one came with its own file card on the back of the toy packaging — a small profile about the character that you were supposed to cut out and save for future reference. Believe it or not, these file cards many times became a factor when deciding which figure to buy. As a nine-year old, standing in the toy aisle of K-Mart, with only enough scratch in my Ghostbusters wallet to get one figure, I had to make a tough choice each week. All the figures looked awesome, so the file cards told you what kind of character the toy was supposed to be, which made picking one easier.
So this got me thinking, what if NHL players had file cards that summed up what you needed to know about them? It would quickly get you up to speed if you haven’t been following their career, and help you decide if you were going to like them or not.
Smart drafting and quality development are the two key reasons why the Chicago Blackhawks have been successful over the past half-decade. Many of the prospects that the ‘Hawks draft end up playing a season or two with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, blossoming into NHL players. This year, the IceHogs released a new set of trading cards, which includes many players who may go on to become the newest ‘Hawks mainstays.
Every year since they joined the AHL, the IceHogs have either given away or sold in their team shop a trading card team set. And historically, the IceHogs do a great job, including practically every player and listing all of their statistics, while dressing it up in an appealing design. This year is no exception.
John Scott’s selection to the 2016 NHL All-Star Game is not without precedent. Having a guy known more for punching than puckhandling play in the NHL All-Star Game, while rare, has happened on several occasions.
Then there is the curious case of Chris Nilan, whose near-appearance in the 1991 All-Star Game was, until now, the most controversial selection ever made.
Chicago Blackhawks prospect Vince Hinostroza became part of an exclusive group when he made his NHL debut earlier this season. Born in the town of Barltett, IL — about a 40 minute drive from Chicago — he became the latest player from the Chicago area to wear the famous Indian-head sweater. Other players in that club include former Blackhawks Chris Chelios, Ed Olczyk and Craig Anderson; current Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling; and Rockford IceHogs teammate Ryan Hartman.
Hinostroza, a forward, was drafted by the Blackhawks in the 6th round (169th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft. During the 2012-13 season, he played Division 1 NCAA hockey for Notre Dame and was named to Hockey East’s All-Rookie Team. The following year, Hinostroza led the team in scoring and was named to Hockey East’s First All-Star Team. He is currently in his first season of pro hockey with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, where he is fifth in scoring. He was also called up for a four-game stint with the Blackhawks.
I spoke with Hinostroza about his college days, adapting to new teammates and being on the ice at the United Center instead of looking down at it from the stands.
Sal Barry: What was your earliest hockey memory?
Vince Hinostroza: When I was three years old, I started skating with my cousin and my dad at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Skating without a stick. And when I was four, I remember joining my first team.
SB: At four years old? Do you remember how you did?
VH: I remember stepping off of the bench and coming onto the ice for my first shift, ever, actually.
VH: Well, I remember my parents telling me about it.
Hello Puck Junk readers. Sorry that I have not posted too much to this site lately. Truth be told, I’ve been doing some more writing for The Hockey News, and they just published what very well be my magnum opus: The Making of Sudden Death: An Oral History.
For those who don’t know — or vaguely remember — “Sudden Death” was an action film released in 1995, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. The film took place at the old Pittsburgh Civic Arena, and was set during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks.
“Sudden Death” featured a lot of Penguins personalities, such as Luc Robitaille, Jay Caufield, Mike Lange and Paul Steigerwald, and I spoke with many of them. I also talked with the director, writer and producer. You can read the article online here. Please take a look and let me know what you think. ■
Happy first day of the 2015-16 NHL season! While I’ll still be updating Puck Junk as regularly as possible, I am now writing about the Chicago Blackhawks for lthe website Chicagoist. Today, they published my first article, which is a preview of the Blackhawks 2015-16 season. You should all check it out. I even throw in a little hockey trivia you can use to impress your friends. If you do read it, let me know your thoughts; do you think the ‘Hawks can win the Stanley Cup again this year? ■
Dominik Hasek’s final game with the Chicago Blackhawks was Game 4 of the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals. But when was his Blackhawks debut?
True, Hasek played in his first official NHL game as a member of the Blackhawks on November 6, 1990. He may have even appeared in a preseason game before then. But Hasek’s debut with the Blackhawks came on September 15, 1990 — 25 years ago today — when he took part in the team’s annual Red-White Scrimmage.
This wasn’t an official game. No ticket stubs exist, as it was free to get in, and no newspapers recapped it the next day. All that we have is this roster that was typed out, photocopied and passed out to fans during the first period.