After some computer problems, then a road trip to Memphis, I am finally getting around to posting my recap of the 2010 Blackhawks Convention (“Hawks Con”).
Chicago, IL – July 30, 2010
We arrive at ‘Hawks Con around 4:30 PM. Every year, the convention officially starts with an “Opening Ceremony” at 5:00 PM. In 2008, this was very cool, as the team announced that Jonathan Toews was appointed captain, and that number 3 was being retired to honor both Keith Magnusson and Pierre Pilote. Huge news that the die-hards like myself got to hear first.
But last year, the team doubled tickets to the convention from 5,000 to 10,000, and it was impossible to get into the Opening Ceremony. Plus, they didn’t have much to say. This year, 10,000 tickets were also sold. That’s 10,000 people trying to get into one hotel ballroom. So I decided not to even try and fight my way into this “ceremony”–which is more or less “feel good” rhetoric by team brass and some of the players. Well, the players who weren’t traded, that is.
Mood Rings Wristbands
Friday night, fans generally seemed grumpy at the convention. There were too many people, but not enough things to do–especially on the first night. A wristband policy was put in place to complicate the process of getting an autograph, while also limiting how many people a player would sign for. Way too many people competing for way too few autograph opportunities.
Basically, the wristband policy worked like this.
- For example, if you wanted Steve Larmer’s autograph, you would get a color-coded wristband 2 or 3 hours before he was signing.
- Either 250 or 315 wristbands would be given out, depending what player it was for.
- Once the plastic band was snapped around your wrist, you could not go get a different player’s autograph until you got Larmer’s.
- You could not get another wristband unless the previous one was removed–which could not be done without breaking it.
- Right before your item got signed, the wristband would be cut off by a convention worker.
- Then you could go and try to get a different wristband for a different player.
Now Signing Autographs is…I’m sorry, what was your name again?
Some very good former Blackhawks were signing autographs at the convention, such as Steve Larmer, Eric Daze, Pierre Pilote, Dennis Hull, Eric Nesterenko and Murray Bannerman.
But what really pissed fans off were the current players who were–or rather, who were NOT–signing autographs at the show. Perennial favorites like Dustin Byfuglien and Adam Burish are gone.
Goalie Antti Niemi was undergoing salary arbitration, and was also not at the show.
Marian Hossa–despite making $5 million a year (give or take) for the next 11 years, was also not at the show signing ‘graphs. Allegedly, he was on his honeymoon. Congratulations to Hossa…but do you think he planned his honeymoon on this very weekend to avoid being at this show? Hmmmmm…..
So, who did that leave us? New Blackhawks Viktor Stalberg and John Scott were there–2 guys acquired over this summer and who have NEVER WORN a ‘Hawks uniform.
‘Hawks prospects Kyle Beach and Shawn Lalonde–2 draft picks who have NEVER PLAYED IN THE NHL–were also at the convention to sign autographs.
Some bit players were there: Jake Dowell, Bryan Bickell, Jack Skille, Jordan Hendry, among a few others.
The big names were present, though they did not have general signing sessions: Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp. Hall of Fame players like Tony Esposito and Bobby Hull were also there. However, to get an autograph from one of these people, you had to have a winning “scratch and win” game card. Unfortunately, our game cards were not winners.
Let’s (try to) Make a Deal
The dealer area, for the most part, was disappointing. Some good dealers were there, but very few were selling hockey cards. Some were selling pucks and photos, and quite a few sold autographed items–much of it signed by players who got traded away this summer. Other dealers were selling art (more on that in my Day 3 recap).
And then other tables were “wasted” by the likes of an insurance company, a construction company, the Chicago Tribune–trying to sell subscriptions–and the U.S. Marine Corps, among other organizations and businesses NOT selling hockey stuff. Ticket reps from the minor-league Rockford IceHogs were present–trying to push minor league hockey tickets on us–and a few local high school hockey teams were represented too.
I could understand the IceHogs and the high school teams, but the Marines? Did I really pay $60 to get in so that I could talk to a Marine recruiter?
Folks, I had money burning a hole in my pocket, but few dealers to spend it with. (Alas, the Marines had no hockey memorabilia for sale). Doing something completely out of my character, I purchased a jersey card.
The front of the card clearly explains the 12 million reasons why the Blackhawks have no salary cap room…
…while the back shows 2 reasons why the Nashville Predators are a cool team. Pekka Rinne had a great season last year, and I’ve been a fan of Shea Weber since 2006. All the jersey swatches were of players I watch a lot, and all swatches were white, giving the card a nice uniform feeling. But is that a blood stain on the Cristobal Huet swatch?
Second City Show
Each year, a troupe of actors from The Second City put on a hockey-themed comedy show. This has always been funny, and is one of my favorite things about the convention. Plus, I studied improv at Second City for a year, so I have a deeper appreciation of what the actors do.
Duncan Keith (left), Brent Seabrook (holding microphone) and Patrick Sharp (2nd from right) join Second City improvisers on stage.
And though I run the risk of sounding like one of those people who complain about everything, I was disappointed in this year’s comedy show. In 2008 and 2009, the show was about an hour. This year, it clocked in at 35 minutes.But most of those 35 minutes were damn funny. I’ll end this blog post with a 4-minute clip of some footage from the comedy show.