So successful are the Chicago Blackhawks that they will sell their fans everything and anything they can. All the games sell out, as does the annual summertime Fan Convention. Three years ago, the team started holding an annual Training Camp Festival, which includes a 5K run and dealers selling hockey memorabilia, and culminates in a scrimmage. The Fest, at $5 a ticket, sells out too. Blackhawks fans will pay to see the team practice!
This year’s scrimmage was pretty epic. The last time I went to a Training Camp Fest — in 2010 — the team had the players work on drills, then play three casual scrimmages, where players skated on more than one team throughout the day. But this year, the team went super-oldschool, and played what fans have called “The Red-White Game.”
(FYI, my first “Red-White Game” was way back in 1990. Read about it here.)
The players weren’t wearing practice jerseys; they were decked out in full Blackhawks uniforms, with one team wearing the red home jerseys and the other team wearing white road jerseys. Where else but in a video game can you see two full teams of Blackhawks going at it?
To those who didn’t make it to Monday night’s fest, here are some of the highlights you missed.
The Stanley Cup…with dramatic music
Doors to the Fest opened at 5 p.m., but fans didn’t have much to see or do until the Stanley Cup was brought out and placed at center ice. A spotlight shone down on the Cup while dramatic music boomed over the stadium’s PA. After the initial volley of cheers and camera flashes, the Cup just sat there. If it had feelings, it probably felt cold and lonely.
Ed Olcyzk signing autographs
Usually, several retired players will sign autographs at the Blackhawks Training Camp Festival. This time, it was just Ed Olczyk. “Edzo” signed autographs earlier this year at both the Blackhawks Convention and the National Sports Collectors Convention. I tell ya, the guy is an autograph signing machine!
Jonathan Toews — in bobble head form!
Team Captain Jonathan Toews had to sit out this game due to a lower-body injury, but still came out to center ice and thanked fans for coming. Ironically, a bobble head of Towes was given to the first 10,000 fans at the Fest. We didn’t get to see Captain Serious play, but we got to take him home.
Andrew Shaw fighting Kyle Beach
After the Red Team scored in the game’s opening moments, the White Team scored twice. With less than a minute left in the first period, Andrew Shaw and Kyle Beach got into a fight near the player benches. Shaw, who was playing for the Red Team, may have been trying to spark some enthusiasm for his squad. Beach, who was selected in the first round of the 2008 draft but never played in the NHL, may have been trying to prove that he belongs. Both were teammates in the AHL during the past two seasons.
Patrick Kane wiping out
After seeing Kaner’s viral video of his mad stickhandling skills, it is kind of nice to see that the Stanley Cup MVP is still human like the rest of us.
The Return of the Bulin Wall
Nikolai Khabibulin was the starting goalie for the Red Team, giving up two goals in 20 minutes of ice time. In all fairness, one of the goals was scored by Patrick Kane. But the other goal was scored by Brandon Bolig. Oh Khabby, it will be like old times!
Those Broadhurst Boys
Local ‘Hawks prospects Terry and Alex Broadhurst are from Orland Park, a suburb south of Chicago. Terry split the 2012-13 season between the AHL and the ECHL, while Alex played junior hockey in the OHL. This Red-White Game may be the only time the two brothers ever don a full ‘Hawks uniform and play in front of their hometown crowd. As a Chicagoan, I am happy for them and hope that they both eventually find their way on the team.
First look at the Finns
Teuvo Teravainen, the Blackhawks first round pick in 2012, was in the starting lineup for the White Team, centering a line with Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell. He also scored a goal in the shootout. Meanwhile, goaltender Antti Raanta played the entire third period for the White Team and did not give up a goal. Perhaps a good sign of things to come.
Sitting THIS CLOSE to the ice
It was open seating at the Training Camp Fest, meaning that you could sit wherever you want. Fans lined up as early as noon, with doors opening at 5 p.m. I showed up just before 5, and was able to score great seats, about 30 rows from the ice. (I could have sat closer, but seats higher up were better for taking pictures.) This is probably the only chance I’ll ever have, in this lifetime anyway, of sitting in Club Circle seats at a ‘Hawks game. So what if the game doesn’t count.
The White Team won the game 5-2. Patrick Kane was the hero of the night, scoring a goal and two assists. Both netminders in the third period — Antti Raanta (White Team) and Kent Simpson (Red Team) did not allow a goal in 20 minutes of play.
Afterward, the team had a shootout, just for the heck of it. Patrick Sharp scored for the Red Team, while Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen scored for the White Team. The Red guys couldn’t even catch a break in the shootout!
Sure, I poked fun at the fact that the ‘Hawks charged $5 for the Training Camp Festival, but fans really got their money’s worth. They could sit where ever they wanted to, got a free bobble head statue and had the opportunity to see current stars and potential future stars face off at the United Center.