Marian Hossa expected to be at Blackhawks conventionContinue reading.
Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks open fan convention today
Last year’s Blackhawks Convention wasn’t so much a celebration as it was an investigation. The story lines were clear, and they weren’t terribly pleasant: What would Patrick Kane say about his infamous trip to Madison? How far along was Marian Hossa in his recovery from a severe concussion? How was Corey Crawford handling another early first-round playoff loss and the Hawks’ dalliance with free agent Martin Brodeur?
One year and one Stanley Cup later, this year’s convention — which begins Friday afternoon at the Hilton Chicago and runs through Sunday — should be decidedly more upbeat.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville earlier this month; he’s also getting a contract extension, which will be announced before the opening ceremonies. “The convention is going to bring a lot of excitement. The fans are going to be definitely looking forward to seeing the guys. The guys will have fun getting back together again — I’m sure there will be a lot of smiles.”
There’s been plenty to smile about this offseason. It’s been turmoil-free, as the Hawks have had little trouble keeping their championship roster largely intact, unlike in 2010. Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik and Daniel Carcillo were traded away to clear salary cap and roster space, Ray Emery (who signed with the Flyers) was replaced with Nikolai Khabibulin, and the Hawks re-signed Bryan Bickell, Nick Leddy, Marcus Kruger, Michal Handzus and Michal Rozsival. So the training camp roster is pretty much set, and the expectations for 2013-14, which opens Oct. 1 against the Capitals, are as high as they’ve ever been.
But before the Hawks look ahead to next season, they’ll have one more weekend to look back on the last one.
Of course, the convention typically happens two or three months after the season ends. But thanks to the lockout-delayed season and the Hawks’ long playoff run, this one takes place barely a month after their Cup-clinching victory in Game 6 at Boston. But expect plenty of reminiscing and highlight videos anyway.
“It’s not that far removed from the regular season,” Quenneville said. “At the same time, I think it will be fun to share. The Cup will be there and it will be a great experience knowing that it wasn’t that long ago it was accomplished, and we get to share it with the fans and everybody can maybe get a shot of it.”
The Cup — which already has been making its way around North America with various players and staff members — will be at the Hilton from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, though with more than 10,000 fans expected, it will only be on display; fans can take pictures of it, but can’t pose with it or touch it. The opening ceremonies are at 5 p.m. on Friday, and the weekend features many panel discussions featuring current and former Hawks and coaches.
Nineteen players, including 13 regulars, upcoming standout Brandon Pirri and first-round pick Ryan Hartman, will be in attendance.