Archive for October, 2011
One of the perks of being a die-hard Chicago Blackhawks fan is getting to meet the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Crew. The 18-woman PR/rink maintenance team do more than shovel snow and cheer on the Hawks during road game watch parties. These women are either college students or have other full-time jobs just to pay the bills. I just call it the best side job in sports. The story of how I became friends with them is like the story of the Blackhawks return to prominence in the NHL.
It all started during the 2008-2009 preseason. I was your standard 21-year-old struggling college student looking to make some more friends. When I got tickets to the inaugural Blackhawks Training Camp Festival, I met some of them, took pictures with them, and by the end of the day, I became friends with some of them. As the popularity of the Blackhawks increased during that season, so was the popularity of the Ice Crew. They were starting to become noticeable like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. As the seasons passed, some stayed and some left. For those who left, I tried to keep in touch with them via Facebook, twitter, or e-mail. The popularity of the Ice Crew reached national status when 4 of them were cast as extras in the 2011 comedy “The Dilemma” starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James. The film was made during the summer of 2010; the year the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. During the preseason last year, alumni who worked with the Ice Crew had a get-together, a family reunion if you will, to share memories and to catch up with what’s going on in their lives. For Ice Crew alumni Ashley Lobo and Jenna Martinelli, being on the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Crew became a launchpad for their new careers on television. (I’m still friends with them to this day.)
Well, that’s my story. Here’s the wallpaper:
And here’s a photo from the official Ice Crew alumni reunion held in November 2013.
(photo above is courtesy of majoronions.com)
Here’s my predictions on the Pacific Division:
Key Additions: Andrew Cogliano, Jeff Deslauriers, J-F Jacques, Andrew Gordon
Key Losses: Andreas Lilja, Brad Winchester
The Ducks nearly had their season derailed after starting goalie Jonas Hiller missed a majority of the second-half of the season and the entire postseason with a serious bout of vertigo. That was negated by the late-season surge of 2011 Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry. The Ducks will be playoff team this season. The question is where they will end up in the top 8 in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
Key Additions: Vernon Fiddler, Eric Godard, Adam Pardy, Michael Ryder
Key Losses: Jamie Langenbrunner, Brad Richards, Jeff Woywitka
When Mike Richards left for Broadway, there went the Stars biggest offensive weapon. But what they gained in the offseason was a Stanley Cup championship forward in Michael Ryder. However, there’s still an ere of uncertainty in Big D. They missed the playoffs on the last day of the season last year, but I don’t think they’ll have enough momentum to make the playoffs this year.
Los Angeles Kings
Key Additions: Simon Gagne, Ethan Moreau, Mike Richards
Key Losses: Michal Handzus, Ryan Smyth, Wayne Simmonds
The Kings reloaded when they traded Wayne Simmonds to Philadelphia for Mike Richards. Add Simon Gagne to the mix, and the Kings could be a threat to steal the Pacific Divison away from the San Jose Sharks. And now with defenseman Drew Doughty re-signed to a long-term deal, you are looking at one of the most completely rounded teams in the NHL.
Key Additions: Boyd Gordon, Daymond Langkow, Mike Smith, Raffi Torres
Key Losses: Eric Belanger, Ilya Bryzgalov, Vern Fiddler, Ed Jovanovski, Lee Stempniak
The Coyotes lost their franchise goalie, Ilya Brygalov, when they traded him to Philadelphia. But replacing him with Mike Smith is not that easy of a task. The coyotes have proven over the last two years you should never count them out. Sorry to say. I don’t think the ‘Yotes may not have what it takes to get back to the playoffs for a third-straight season.
San Jose Sharks
Key Additions: Brent Burns, Michal Handzus, Martin Havlat, Colin White
Key Losses: Ben Eager, Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Ian White
The Sharks got a really good defenseman in Brent Burns in the trade for Devin Setoguchi. Other than that, expect the same results for the Sharks this season: another Pacific Division title, and another deep playoff run. If they do make it to the Western Conference Finals for a third straight season, will they take the lessons learned from the last two Western Conference Finals and finally clear the hump?
Prediction: Pacific Division Champions