2013 Blackhawks Convention: The Good, The Bad, The Fugly

This is a team of Grumpy Cats / Image by the_mel

This is a team of Grumpy Cats / Image by the_mel

With the season finishing so late, it hardly felt like it was time for the annual Blackhawks Convention. But there we all were last weekend, throwing money at the Blackhawks organization like a 18-year-old at his first strip club. If you weren’t at the Hilton this past weekend, or were and were drunk not paying attention, I present you this recap, of sorts.

First, I think I speak for the majority of the writers on this fine blog when I say we don’t spend our weekend downtown for the chance to talk to the players or to buy into all the “rah-rah” crap the team tries to spoonfeed anyone that will listen. We all gather to see all of our hockey friends in midst of summer, hang out, eat bad food, and laugh at the majority of the players on our favorite team. Oh, and most of us drink. A lot. You’ll see what I mean whenever Kat uploads this past weekend’s Second Balcony Breakdown. I’ll be the one making fart noises in the background because I’m 37 going on 9.

Because this is how I do, I present to you a brief recap of the Sixth Annual Blackhawks Convention in list format. I’m good at numbers.

The Good

1. A short shiny thing visited the Convention this weekend.

No, not Darren Pang.

I am talking about the Stanley Cup, of course. The Cup was carted out to much fanfare at the Opening Ceremonies by Phil “Feathered Hair Circa 1987″ Pritchard and Mike Bolt (I am #TeamMikeBolt for life by the way). A “Tales from the Cup Keepers” panel on Saturday was one of the highlights of the weekend.

Oh, and if you felt like waiting in a very long line with other folks, many of whom apparently had beer farts, you could “view” the Stanley Cup. NO PHOTOS, NO TOUCHING, JUST LOOKING. Not really sure if that was worth it (I didn’t bother), but it’s nice to have that option, ya know?

IMG_46262. In one of the funnier moments of the weekend, we were treated to a dance-off between Jonathan Toews’ moonwalk and Patrick Kane’s Kaner Shuffle during the “Reliving the Stanley Cup Final” panel on Saturday afternoon. You can see it all here:

But honestly, if you go to the Convention and skip the panels, you’re missing out on some of the funniest moments of the weekend. From Bickell’s story on how Crawford pranked Bollig by cutting the toes out of his socks and filling his shoes up with honey, to Sharp interrupting one of the panels to remind everyone he led the team in goals during the playoffs, to Rozsival’s sick burn on Stalberg probably cursing out Coach Q in Swedish on the bench — it was almost worth the price of admission alone. And don’t forget all of the endless bromances you witness. Oh, the bromances.

3. Most Blackhawks fans remember Ben Smith and his overtime goal fondly from the Game Six of the Quarterfinals in 2011 that sent the Canucks and Hawks to a Game Seven (we shan’t talk about that game). But some of us (myself included) love Mr. Smith for his friendly manner (especially with children), his well-spokenness as witnessed on the panels he was part of, and the sense that he is genuinely one of the nicest folks on the team. Such a good kid, the old fart in me would say. After this weekend I think I speak for many in hoping he finally sticks in the NHL this season. He deserves it.

The Bad

1. You’d think after six years of this shit, they’d finally get the line management right at one of these things. Nope. There were several times where I attempted to find the end of one of the many long queues that spring up during the Convention, with no one knowing where it was, and no staff in sight to assist. And when there was staff to “manage” these lines, many times they gave the wrong information regarding what the line was for and where it was going. This led to many pissy people and infighting amongst attendees on the potential threat of cutting.

Here’s a thought — maybe signage on where and what each line is for. Perhaps a staff person with a sign or flag at the end of the line where it’s easily visible. I’ve seen lines at the TSA checkpoints at O’Hare with better organization and cheerier folks waiting.

2. This was only my third convention, but by far this was the most sparsely attended by current Blackhawks players. Some of it couldn’t be helped — Niklas Hjalmarsson got married over the weekend, which also meant fellow Swedes Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger were no-shows. Brent Seabrook was awaiting the birth of his first nachobaby child as well. There were Blackhawks Alumni and prospects to fill in the gaps (though there’s always a few alumni that make you scratch your head — Wayne Presley?), but this means most of the panels have the same few players attending.

I don’t know if there’s an easy solution — they are asking the players to take time out of their offseason to go to this every year, and I’m sure most would like to do other things. But if it’s the same group of players and alumni going every year, the shelf life of this thing is going to come very quickly for many of us.

3. I hate the Hilton. I mean, it’s a nice hotel — one I would never stay at normally because it’s way overpriced and staying downtown is for tourists. But the Convention has overgrown this venue, and it shows: lines everywhere, countless minutes wasted waiting for elevators, not enough public bathroom for the teeming masses, multiple floors, and endless walking. Oh, and really Hilton, double beds? Sure, if you’re 5’4″ and less than 100 pounds. But to try to fit two normal people in one of your beds is just painful. Just ask my girlfriend; she ended up sleeping on the floor one night (I’m a bedhog, oops).

This past year, the Cubs Convention moved from the Hilton to the Sheraton. Perhaps a similar change for the Blackhawks would breathe new life into the Convention format and also make its attendees a little less grouchy.

The Ugly

IMG_3167

Bryan Bickell is judging your dumbass request

1. We’ve witnessed this a few times in the past: folks using the Q&A sessions during the panels for autograph requests or the like. It was usually a little kid, and it was just cute enough not to be too annoying. This year was another story. Whenever there was a panel with more than one of the current players you had children, teenage girls, and grown-ass adults pandering for autographs, hugs, photographs and other asinine requests. Listen, assholes — I collect autographed pucks, but you won’t see my dumb ass wasting everyone’s time going up to a mic and groveling for one. You look like an idiot and you put the players in a bad situation: either they look like a jackass denying a kid an autograph, or they waste everyone else’s time by accommodating you.

By the later panels, the crowd started booing these fools right off the mics, which was rather refreshing. The only way this will be eliminated? Either by threatening the privilege of having a pass for the weekend by revoking it, or eliminating these stupid Q&A sessions all together. Hopefully the organizers took note of the stupidity and will do something to combat this for next year. Or else I’m bringing a flamethrower.

2. On a similar note, the Convention really brings out the worst in some folks. I can somewhat excuse the kids acting like, well, children and the teenagers acting dumb, as they usually do. But adults? Whining, bickering, and just being a general prick seems to be the norm for some people during the weekend.

I had people nearly push me on my ass with nary an “excuse me.” Folks who were lucky enough to win one of the few game-worn jersey grab-bags offered over the weekend complained loudly about what player they got. And generally, folks just being MAJOR ASSHOLES to complete strangers. Aren’t we all Blackhawks fans? Didn’t the team just win the Stanley Cup? CUT THAT SHIT OUT. Honestly, the embarrassing behavior from some of the fanbase during the Convention makes me seriously consider not even going next year.

3. Andrew Shaw attempted to twerk. I didn’t see it live. I think I should say a novena.

3 thoughts on “2013 Blackhawks Convention: The Good, The Bad, The Fugly

  1. mandus83

    I have a solution to the Q&A issue and surprisingly it comes from a team who is horrible at fan interaction – the Rangers have finally figured out how to prevent this while still having Q&As at events. They screen the questions before they are asked. There’s two ways to do this – first is to have everyone write the questions before the panel, have someone review them before the Q&A portions starts & then call each person up if their question has been approved (the new preferred way to do it in NY). The second is to have someone stand by the mic and ask what the question is in advance. If it’s an autograph request or worse, they get told to sit their ass down. As entertaining as the second option is, the first does work so think the Blackhawks should try something like that next year.

    Reply
  2. Brian

    What about the scratch tickets? Ridiculous that I took my step daughter and after dropping close to a grand in the totality of it all we almost didnt end up meeting one high end player? Little kids were walking around with stacks of these tickets and selling them, where was security during this? We bought a ticket from a kid to get a Crawford autograph and he showed up an hour late. I get that this is a team that won the cup and that this was just as much bandwagon people as us regular fans that can only afford tickets a couple times a year, however this was ridiculous.

    I think the lines were a little better done than the Sox convention I went to, however I noticed that there was A LOT of professional autograph people around holding places in lines ect.

    The upside for me was getting to talk with some of the people in the lines. Most everyone was nice and we got to hang out with some fans.

    My price for everything was “aftermarket” after having to buy things from third parties. This also includes a four hour drive up and back.

    Perhaps there is a better way to do things, not sure if they care since they have a winning team that people want to see and forgive the labor talks where I lost the two games I bought which is how I afforded the convention.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Blackhawk Up: Dump & Chase 7/31/13 - Blackhawk Up - A Chicago Blackhawks Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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