So this is a serious question: have you ever attended a Blackhawks Convention, and if so, why? (OK, that was actually two questions but don’t be like that.) Personally I’ve never gone, and I ask because these types of choreographed interactions with autograph signings and Q&A sessions and whatnot generally make me cringe. Plus given my misanthropic tendencies, I usually end up hating public figures (and people in general) once I actually meet them.
Yet this multi-day event has become a staple in the McDonough-Rocky era, and thanks to the former half of that duo it’s a fixture of the Chicago sports scene (can you believe the White Sox do one of these things? I’m a lifelong fan but I would rather eat glass than sit through their attempts to be as popular and loved as the Cubs.) So as it approaches—and the reality draws near of my walk to work getting complicated by there being even more people stumbling down Michigan Avenue without paying attention—I’m curious what fans get out of it, and for that matter, what the team will get out of it.
The corpse of Corey Crawford
The Convention is supposed to be the big reveal that Crawford is in fact not dead! That’s what Stan and the rest of the brass kept saying—he’d be there at the Convention. Which begs a couple questions: first of all, will he actually attend? One would think at this point he’ll have to, regardless of what his actual health is like, because if he’s a no-show, the media and fans who are still paying attention will collectively lose their shit at the realization that Cam Ward is definitely the starter. If they have to go full-on Weekend at Bernie’s with his ass, I’m pretty sure at this point they’d do it.
Second, will he field real questions from fans? Part of why I ask is that I’ve never attended so I don’t actually know how vetted and choreographed any parts of the event really are, but given this team’s penchant for non-speak, I highly doubt they’ll let any meathead fan ask an unplanned, anything-besides-a-softball question, even if it’s as simple as “Hey Corey, is your concussion better?”
So if Crawford will mostly smile, sign autographs and give bland platitudes to the organ-I-zation for sticking by him during his recovery, this big reveal will be the exact opposite—it will answer nothing, nor give fans who parted with hard-earned money any real reassurance that the most important player is functional.
Celebrities…they’re just like us
Is this why people go? Is it to hear Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane pretend to joke around and act like they like each other? Does Duncan Keith have to do any talking? I feel like he would be so awkward at one of those things, and I certainly don’t blame him. Brent Seabrook is not listed as an attendee, which will hopefully fuel some wild speculation. In reality it’s probably because he made a prior commitment to take up residence at a King of Donair or destroy an all-you-can-eat buffet somewhere in Canada.
And what about the coaches and management? Again, these guys talk but never say anything, so what are they going to do to fill the time? My guess is they’ll trot out the same tired lines about “we’re expecting deez guys here to step up and have a big year” and “we’re pleased with the young talent we drafted” and blah blah blah.
I know McDonough values nothing more than the slick marketing ploy and some carefully crafted messaging, but as we’ve covered, the lack of information about the Crawford’s health, the rebuild on the fly vs. win-right-now strategy, why they couldn’t get Hossa’s contract off the books before July 1 and maybe have been positioned to take advantage of free agency—really anything of substance—makes it seem like this Convention is going to be just another time that management passes on an opportunity to connect with fans or media on any meaningful level, especially since, as we’ve determined, they don’t really have to.
Along those lines, I’m not saying Bowman or anyone else should give away any deal that may be in the works. And I don’t think Q will suddenly divulge that he’s going to maroon Top Cat on the third line again just because he’s a crusty asshole who makes crazy lineup decisions. But if they’re not going to say anything and don’t have to, why sit through these events?
Has-been or never was?
Does anyone really care to meet Ben Eager or Colin Fraser now? I certainly hope not. It appears that John Scott will be there too, just as a reminder that sometimes some lucky bastard gets way more out of life than he or she brought to the table, because the universe makes no sense.
And there will be yoga…that’s right, Hawks fans dedicated enough to attend this bullshit-filled marketing stunt…in yoga pants.
Alright, enough snark from me. It may not be my thing but hey, have a good time if you’re going. Just stay the fuck out of the way when you wander north on Michigan.
Photo credit: NBC Sports