Friday, December 27, 2013


Black Hawks Get Caught Napping

I am quite certain that teams do not lose NHL games intentionally. Just the opposite, in fact. Every game is important, when it comes down to it. I get a little tired of hearing people say that they are hockey fans, then add that they only watch the playoffs because that’s when players really play with intensity. Hogwash.


Every player plays every shift intensely; otherwise, he will soon find himself in the press box, or in the American League. Players do not like to sit out games, either as a punishment, or with an injury. They are paid to play, and they love the game.


Last Saturday night, the Chicago Black Hawks went into Toronto on a roll. They had won seven games in a row, and were confident that their game against the Leafs would end up in the win column. A funny thing happened on the way to the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs turned the tables, and clobbered the Hawks, 7-3. The game was never in doubt.


There was plenty of support in Toronto for the Hawks. Historically, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of Black Hawk fans in the Quinte Region. This stems from the efforts of one Robert Marvin Hull, and, to a lesser degree, to his brother Dennis. They came from Point Anne, just down the road from old highway number two, a little south east of Belleville. Because of their play, many from the area became devoted Hawk fans.


There is a new part of the equation that beckons understanding: a certain Andrew Shaw. He is also a native Bellevillian, and he makes it known that he is from this area. The Shaw contingent at the game on Saturday night was extensive. Several of his fans made the trip: Chisholms, Haggartys, a couple of the Pope boys, Ryan Griffin, several Tanners, Tim Clodmaker, the intrepid Corey Engelsdorfer, Mike Heuving, Jacob Panetta, the Boyles, the Cooneys, Mike Sainsbury, a brother and a sister, and, of course, Doug and Darlene.


Doug and Dar were stationed at centre ice, between the benches. It sounds like a great place to watch the game; however, they had to look over the shoulders of Glen Healey and his cameraman, and they watched most of the game on the big screen at centre ice. The lads from Andrew’s home town also managed to critique his attire after the game. They asked if his tie came in men’s sizes as well. Tough crowd!


A note was made in one of the Toronto rags about the importance of fans while playing on the road. When the Leafs play in, say, south Florida, they appreciate the cheers of their fans. Most teams visiting Toronto have no trouble filling seats with family and friends.  There really aren’t enough tickets to go around.


A core of reporters circled Hawks starter Antii Raanta after the game to get his comments. He had allowed five pucks to get past him in the first two periods. He gave standard, and very understandable answers to the relatively idiotic questions. “I’ve just got to go out and work hard in the next practice, and find my focus”. Those nights do occur, for everyone. His backup, Kent Simpson, saw the first Leaf shot slip under his arm for their sixth marker. Not a happy time for Coach Quenneville.


The Hawks rebounded the next night for a victory against the Los Angeles Kings. The Leafs came ever so close on Monday night, but a young Maritimer named Sidney Crosby burst the balloon with a wicked shot from the slot to seal the deal for the Penguins.


We have not yet reached the midway point in the season. There will be many great games to watch, always best at the rink. Stay focussed, for goodness sake!


James Hurst

December 17, 2013.



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