Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Blackhawks, USO of Illinois, Boeing and Fans Make A WWII Veteran's Night Memorable

Back on May 28th, 2015, the Chicago Blackhawks were getting ready to take on the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of the NHL Western Conference Finals, down in the series, 3 games to 2.  More importantly, Edward J. Holndoner Sr. was being honored as the WWII veteran to stand on the ice for the National Anthem, two days after Memorial Day.

When first told, he was hesitant to go  He was thinking of the game more so than the real reason for him being there.  Once he realized that he was going to be honored for his service during WWII, his facial expression changed, and he began to get emotional realizing the opportunity given to him.  With some coaxing, he gave in and went to the game.

The Chicago Blackhawks, the USO of Illinois, and Boeing, have combined to honor veterans at games throughout the hockey season over the last few years to an overwhelming success.

When Edward got to the game, he was met by a Blackhawks official to help provide anything that was needed.  During pre-game, a young teenage fan walked up to Edward and gave him a home-red, Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks sweater.  He wanted him to have it for his service to his country.  The teenager's mother was with him and supported the decision.  When it came time to hit the ice for the Anthem, Edward donned the sweater under his suit jacket and his WWII Veteran's hat establishing him as part of the United States Army 65th Infantry Division.

As Frank Pellico began the familiar tune through the pipe organ at the United Center, and as Jim Cornelison started to belt out the words, Edward and the other selected military veterans saluted, and the Chicago fans erupted into a thunderous applause, as they always due, for the most memorable 1:48 in all of Blackhawks pre-game hockey.

As Edward made his way back to his seat, he was greeted by countless fans thanking him for his service.  His seats, provided by the Blackhawks, USO of Illinois, and Boeing, gave him a great view of the game.  In the middle of the 2nd period, during a commercial intermission, the Blackhawks paid tribute to Edward and the other military veterans that were present.  Once again, the Blackhawks faithful paid tribute to a thunderous roar.  Even the players on the ice were giving recognition for their service with stick-taps on the ice.

When the night ended, the Blackhawks had forced a Game 7 back in Anaheim.  As history tells us, the Hawks went on to take Game 7 and then the Stanley Cup in 6 games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

But for Edward, who was brought to the game by his family in a stretch limo, he, at 91 years old, stated that "I will remember this day for the rest of my life.  This is one of the best days I've ever had".  

Edward passed away last week, but till his dying day, he showed great pride, for one of the most memorable days of his life.  Thank you to the Blackhawks, the USO of Illinois, Boeing, Jim Cornelison, and the Blackhawks fans for giving Edward a day that lifted him on top of the highest mountain for a day.

And thank you for being the best Dad that a son could ever have.  Love you, Dad!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Bickell, Teravainen, Traded. Panik, Re-signed. Shaw next?

It didn't take long for Chicago Blackhawks' General Manager,  Stan Bowman to start adjusting the roster for the 2016-17 season after the conclusion of the season, as he sent Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2016 2nd-round pick (50th overall), and a 2017 3rd-round pick.  Just hours after that, Bowman re-signed forward Richard Panik to a one-year contract.

Bickell, 30, had spent parts of 9 seasons as a Blackhawk.  He was the 41st overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.  In 384 games, Bickell accumulated 65 goals and 70 assists.  He played a major part in the 2013 Stanley Cup Champion team, where he had 17 points (9G 8A), in 23 games.  He had the game-tying goal, that was the first leg of the "17 Seconds" miracle that resulted in a Game 6, series-clinching win. 
He was also part of the 2015 Stanley Cup Champion team as well.  Bickell struggled last year, appearing in only 25 games.  He spent the rest of the season with the AHL affiliate Rockford Icehogs, where he had 31 points (15G 16A) in 47 games.

Teravainen, 21, had a breakout year last year accumulating 35 points (13G 22A) in 78 games.  Originally the 18th oerall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, Teravainen played a key role in the 2015 Stanley Cup Champion team with 10 points (4G 6A) in 18 games, including a crucial 3rd period, game-tying goal in Game 1 of the NHL Finals.

The trade frees up $5.344 million in cap space or the financially strapped Blackhawks.  With that said, hours later, Panik, 24, was re-signed to a 1-year, $875K deal.  Panik, was in and out of the Blackhawks lineup throughout the year after being traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs for well-pawned, trade bait, Jeremy Morin, in January.  Panik played in 30 games in the regular season with 8 points (6G 2A).  He found his groove come playoff time where he brought energy to the Jonathan Toews line, by providing 3 assists in 6 games.


This in turn, leads to the big concern of what happens to Andrew Shaw?  Shaw was arguably the best player the Hawks threw on the ice in the playoffs last year with 6 points (4G 2A) in 6 games.  Both Bowman and Shaw expressed hope that a deal could be done.  With this salary cap freed, one would hope that a deal can be done.