Welcome to the April edition of Blackhawks Bytes, a series featuring quotes and comments from players, coaches, management, journalists and fans alike concerning everything Chicago Blackhawks. The purpose of this ongoing column is to capture a slice of the existing outlook, attitudes and culture surrounding the team throughout the 2021-22 season. Please join me as we have some fun with the everyday, albeit fascinating aspect of human nature; the power of words.
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The Blackhawks are in the final stretch of their 2021-22 season. It certainly hasn’t been their best campaign, and the organization is bracing itself for a long and painful rebuild. Since the team said goodbye to integral players such as Marc-Andre Fleury, Brandon Hagel and Ryan Carpenter at the trade deadline, the Blackhawks have a dismal record of 2-5-2. This included a seven-game losing streak (and counting), and two games where they were shut out. But the show must go on, and the team is hoping for a positive finish. In the meantime, lets focus on some quotable quotes and positive sentiment in this edition of Blackhawks Bytes.
Hossa’s Big Night
The Blackhawks couldn’t manage to win the game for him, but everything else about Thursday, Apr. 7, was pretty special for Hall-of-Famer Marian Hossa. It started with the announcement that Hossa would sign a one-day contract and officially retire as a Blackhawk.
OFFICIAL: Hossa will sign a one-day contract and officially retire as a Blackhawk this Thursday! ✍️ pic.twitter.com/SDLB6wQr8m— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) April 5, 2022
The ceremony took place in the Blackhawks’ Atrium in front of a packed crowd and with much hoopla. But the organization had one more surprise up it’s sleeve during the game.
Marian Hossa. The only player in franchise history to wear No. 81. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/urc4txi59L— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) April 8, 2022
So, Hossa’s No. 81 will appropriately have a permanent place in the United Center rafters. This number retirement ceremony will take place at some point next season. The Czechoslovakian native certainly made an impact in his eight glorious seasons with the Blackhawks, including helping them win three Stanley Cups. During the intermission, Patrick Kane had some fitting words about his former teammate and friend.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the team hasn’t done as well since he left…he had that impact on the team.
It’s true that things started to go downhill right around the time Hossa left after the 2016-17 season due to a progressive skin disorder. Hossa started his career as a pure goal scorer, but he ended it as one of the best two-way players in the game. It was all the little things he did that people took for granted. Those little things were what made the team more successful. Plus, he gave 110% every shift and every night.
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Shucks, he certainly could teach some of these current Blackhawks a thing or two. Hossa hinted at it, and it’s only a matter of time before the organization announces a role for him with the Blackhawks moving forward. We shall see just exactly what this entails, but it certainly makes sense for Hossa to be involved somehow in player development, or even coaching.
NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman recently posted his 32 thoughts publication, and it featured an old Blackhawks’ friend in Johnny Oduya. If you recall, Oduya played for Chicago from 2012 to 2015, where he won two Stanley Cups with the team. He was always a very private individual, which is why it was quite a surprise when this turned into a lengthy 55-minute interview.
Besides creating a clothing line called Atunya, and taking hockey to places like Thailand and Kenya, Oduya offered some insight into his second Cup win with the Blackhawks in 2015.
I remember sitting on the bench in 2015, I think it was the countdown of the last couple of seconds. Time just slows down, you’re watching around the United Center. The place is full, everybody’s screaming. I remember how slow those 10 seconds (felt) … and it’s quite hard to describe, but is one of the things I wish for everybody on this planet — it doesn’t matter if you play sports or whatever you do — that you, at some point in your life, will have the feeling of that.
It’s true in this increasingly hustle and bustle world we rarely just live in the moment anymore. I remember stopping for a moment to take things in during my wedding. To a lesser extent I do this every time I hear the national anthem at the United Center. Oduya was kind enough to share his version of a special moment many of us also witnessed as fans. It’s a good reminder to stop and smell the roses more often.
Classic Pat Foley
Blackhawks fans were given a treat last Sunday night, as Pat Foley and Dale Tallon were in the broadcast booth together one last time. They were partners back in the day before Foley and Eddie Olczyk. The pair did a phenomenal job of picking up right where they left off. It was seamless, friendly and highly entertaining.
Pat Foley and Dale Tallon will be reunited in the booth tonight!— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) April 10, 2022
Puck drops at 6:00 on @NBCSChicago 📺 pic.twitter.com/cCoNwiN5UZ
Tallon was honest and straightforward, telling things like they were without sugar-coating it. Foley went out of his way to remind the viewers of all the great acquisitions Tallon made when he was the general manager of the Blackhawks. Without Tallon’s talent assessment, there would likely have never been three Stanley Cups in Chicago.
Now we all know Foley has had his fair share of classic one-liners throughout his career, some more appropriate than others. But he added another doozy on Sunday.
Pay Foley: “There’s a scrum along the boards – more clutching than at a high school prom!”— John Dietz (@johndietzdh) April 11, 2022
Foley will call his last game of the season this Thursday, Apr. 14, before he officially retires. His booming voice, endless enthusiasm, and ability to give us all a chuckle will be sorely missed.
A Day in the NHL
Finally, let’s try to look at the positives in spite of all the recent losses. The Blackhawks are rebuilding, and that’s gonna come with a lot of aches and pains. But there are also numerous youngsters who are getting big opportunities for the first time. They’re in a position to show their worth, and they’re excited about potential successful careers. Here’s a clip from forward MacKenzie Entwistle.
“At the end of the day, when you’re in the NHL it’s a good day.”—MacKenzie Entwistle on being in and out of the Blackhawks lineup pic.twitter.com/TxlSDFiq8j— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) April 10, 2022
Apparently there has been some talk in the locker room about this recently, as defenseman Caleb Jones made a similar remark the other day. It might seem corny, but a lot of these kids are fulfilling a life-long dream while many of their former childhood teammates and friends won’t have the same opportunity. From that perspective, it’s not corny at all.
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So, instead of focusing on how bad the team is right now, we can revel in these young players. It will be a fun adventure to witness their growing pains and successes as we watch them develop before our very eyes.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Blackhawks Bytes! Keep it here at The Hockey Writers through the home stretch of the season. We’ll have plenty of news, updates and analysis through the end of April and throughout the offseason.