2009 Blackhawks Convention – Day One

Chicago, IL
July 17, 2009

July 17 to 19 was the Second Annual Chicago Blackhawks Convention. Sure, it’s the middle of July, but for 10,000 of us, all we thought about for the next three days was hockey.

As is my luck, Shellie and I were running a bit late, as we got there just before 5 pm. We could not get into the Grand Ballroom because to see the “Opening Ceremonies”, where they introduce the players who are attending the Con.

Not only was the ballroom full, but so was the lobby, as hundreds of fans tried to see what was happening on a large TV that was broadcasting the ceremonies. We couldn’t see anything but the backs of people trying to see a large TV. That was boring, so we went and checked out the dealer room.

Last year, more dealers were on hand selling their hockey wares. This time, there were maybe 25 vendors or so. I was kind of disappointed with the lack of selection, though I did pick up this cool illustration of Chris Chelios for $5.

The artist’s name is Jerry Tibstra, and he does commissioned work for the Chicago Blackhawks. He also gave me this black and white print of Tony Esposito.

We also picked up our convention swag, which included a goodie bag and a scratch-and-win game piece (more on that later). Last year’s con bag was a nifty tote with the ‘Hawks logo. This year, they gave out cheaply-made drawstring bags.

There was nothing special inside the bags–just the typical assortment of coupons and fliers for the convention’s sponsors and advertisers. There was one cool thing in the bag, though…

This black Sharpie marker has the motto “ONE GOAL” printed on it, along with the ‘Hawks logo. “One Goal” was the team’s slogan/marketing campaign during the last season. I think this marker says it all, because for most fans at the show, their “one goal” was to get some autographs.

Speaking of autographs, we decided to go wait in the signing line for Bob Probert. We got in line at 5:30, and Probert was not signing until 7. As was the case last year, there was some confusion as to which line was for who. There were two separate lines–the people in each line both claimed that they were in the “right” line for Probert. At 6:20 pm everyone in both lines merged in a mad rush towards the gate of the “official line”.

And then we waited. I pulled out the three scratch-and-win game pieces we got, and one of them said “WINNER”. I later exchanged it for this:

It did not tell me who this signing session was for–I would not know until 9 am on Sunday.

Bob Probert smiles a lot more now that he’s got teeth.

Anyway, back to the wait. Bob Probert showed up at 7 pm sharp, and started signing. He seemed to be having a good time–he was even reading text messages between signing stuff. Around 7:20 we each got an autograph from him. Shellie got this 8″ by 10″ Red Wings photo signed for my Aunt Gayle…

…while I got this photo of Probert as a Blackhawk signed for my “Wall of Fame”.

Probert dug this photo. “Wow! Look at that! No gray hair,” Probert said.

“And you’re almost smiling,” I replied.

“Ah, I probably didn’t smile because I probably didn’t have any teeth back then,” he remarked.

Bob Probert reads a text message.

After getting Probert’s autograph, we headed to see a hockey-themed improvisational comedy (“improv”) show by some performers from The Second City. The Second City has turned out some great comedians, such as Harold Ramis, Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert. (I also went through their improv program in 2008, but am not yet quite as great of a comedian).

Brent Seabrook (left), Patrick Sharp and Adam Burish.

Last year’s improv show at the ‘Hawks Convention was hilarous, as the actors were joined on stage by ‘Hawks players Brent Seabrook and Adam Burish. This year, Seabrook, Burish and Patrick Sharp joined The Second City players for the show.

I’ve put together some video highlights from the show. Enjoy!

I’ve still got more video and pictures that I plan on having up by the end of the week (hopefully). Check back in a day or two for my recap of the second day of the Blackhawks Convention.

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Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

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