Tuesday, June 11, 2013


And Now There Are Two Teams Remaining!

At long last, there are two teams remaining in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. We have been fortunate in the Quinte Region to have had two appearances of the Silver Beauty in the past few years: Matt Cooke toted the Cup when the Penguins won, and, last year, Brad Richardson hoisted the mug when the Kings won it all.


This year, it all rests on the shoulders of young Andrew Shaw. He skates for the Chicago Black Hawks, and has brought great excitement to the game for all hockey fans. Andrew is a little under six feet tall, and tips the scales at about 160 pounds. In the next few days, he will come face to face with the likes of Zdeno Chara, star defenceman for the Boston Bruins.


Chara is one of the tallest and largest players ever to lace up skates. He is about nine inches over six feet, and weighs at least a hundred pounds more than Shaw. So you think that Shaw will be intimidated by the towering Chara? Think again. Shaw relishes the opportunity to get in the face of all opponents, big and small.


“Shawzee” played all of his minor hockey in Belleville, and moved up to the junior ranks in Niagara Falls. He played a year in Owen Sound before becoming a professional hockey player. In a nutshell, he has captured the imagination of hockey fans in Chicago, and is now an important cog in the wheel of the Black Hawks.


In an article in the Chicago Sun Times from April, 2012, his mother is quoted briefly: “He’s fiery!” That was his rookie year, and he has come a long way since then. His father Doug, tried to rein him in. “I yelled at him for all the things they wanted him to do. You’re always in the penalty box for all the things he does. He was always yappy, just like his father.”


His struggle to get to the NHL was not an easy path. He was ignored in the draft process for two years, finally picked up in the fifth round in the third year by the Hawks. General Manager Stan Bowman commented: “We were fortunate that no one else took him. He came in without a lot of fanfare and without a lot of expectation, and he just proved that he could play.”


Teammate Patrick Kane assessed Shaw’s talent at that time, in good hockey vernacular: “One thing that’s underappreciated about him is his skill and hands. He’s got some nice silky hands, and can make different passes.” And he added: “He’s kind of reckless and very energetic and enthusiastic about life. He’s fun to be around.


 The following year, this past April, Shaw continued his impressive play. You will find him on the power play, jousting for position with gigantic defencemen. He takes a regular shift on what the announcers call the “fourth line”, a meaningless title to the coaches. Typically in early April, he had a goal and an assist, as well as an “unsportsman-like conduct” penalty. 


Another Hawks star also admires Shaw’s play. Jonathan Toews was mystified by Shaw’s early play. “When he first came up, we all asked ourselves, ‘Who is this guy? What the heck is he doing?’” All that is past history. Toews latest assessment: “He’s a physical player for his size; he’s very fearless. He can really get on guys’ nerves out there.”


On Wednesday night, he begins to live the dream of so many young Canadian boys: to play for the Stanley Cup, perhaps to hoist it above his head at centre ice. Not bad, for a twenty-two year old kid who was almost left behind.


James Hurst






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