Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Savard’

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank

In the midst of last season, former Blackhawks Head Coach Dennis Savard made an infamous rant where he called on his players to specifically be “committed to the Indian.” ”They’ve got to commit to the Indian,” Savard fumed. ”If they don’t want to commit to the Indian, let’s go upstairs and we’ll get ’em out of here.” Of course, a little over two weeks ago we learned that the Indian was not committed to Savard. On October 16th, Savard with a record of 1-2-1, was dismissed. In 147 games as Hawks coach Savard posted a 65-66-16 record. He was replaced by Joel Quenneville, former coach of the Colorado Avalanche, and scout for the organization. Under Quenneville the Hawks are 2-1-2 heading into tonight’s matchup with the Dallas Stars.

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank If the local NHL team has an Oscar night, this was it. The Chicago Blackhawks launched their 2008-09 regular-season home opener Monday night with a special red carpet event on Madison Street at 5pm. 21,712 attended the first home game of a historic season. This is the first year that every Hawks game will be broadcast on television. Unfortunately, they lost 3-2 in an overtime shoot-out to the rival Nashville Predators at the United Center.     

The 2008-09 Blackhawks players arrived via limousine (I have a media print-out listing each player’s limo assignment…If any hard core fans are interested, you can ask comment below) and were each introduced before walking down a red carpet into the United Center. Blackhawks Color Analyst Eddie Olczyk served as the master of ceremonies, while team President John McDonough was the premier guest speaker.

All the local sports media heavy hitters were in the press box to see an arena that was a sea of red. The team, as well as most fans in attendance, wore the road red jerseys (the kind you would recognize from Wayne and Garth in “Wayne’s World” and Clark W. Griswold in the “Vacation” movies) The leader of the visiting opposition noticed and commented on the newly augmented game atmosphere. “Quite frankly for the last ten years we’ve been coming here and there was crickets in the building, but that was a pretty good atmosphere and I think it’s great for the league, it’s great for the city of Chicago,” said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz.

Despite the loss, there were some bright spots. Martin Havlat, an Olympian who represented the Czech Republic in 2002, scored the first home Hawks goal of the season off a power play about nine minutes in. The Hawks ranked just 24th in the league last season converting power plays, so one of their target priorities for this season was boosting that category. I’m sure you’ve seen the “One Goal” (Like the Eiffel ’65 song) promotional campaign by now. Hawks coach Dennis “Savvy” Savard did see some progress in defeat though. Noting at the post game press conference, “They played harder, competed harder, won a lot more one-on-one battles than in the other two games.” Although the loss was disappointing, the Hawks battled fiercely and the game was an event in itself.
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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank
During the past year, Chicago’s National Hockey League team has been on a tremendous promotional roll. They scored a public relations hat trick this past summer with the announcement of new broadcast partnerships, the NHL’s first ever fan convention and the announcement of Wrigley Field hosting the NHL’s Annual Outdoor Winter Classic. The new t-shirts reading “Don’t Toews (pronounced TAYVES) me Bro,” should also help win over a few more fans. The Hawks kept the marketing momentum rolling with their first ever Training Camp Festival at the United Center on Saturday. The all day event featured a Hawks practice session, the “Mad Dash to Madison” 5K Run/Walk/Skate, a 3-On-3 Street Hockey Tournament in the UC parking lot, live music, and an interactive games area. This area included, naturally every type of table hockey you could imagine. Here I spoke with Hawks die-hard Kathleen Kelly, 26 of Tinley Park. “It’s such a beautiful day, and it’s great that the Hawks provided all this great stuff here and fun things to do. And there’s the hockey going on inside of course too,” Kelly said. The hockey she referred to was the Hawks first practice of the season. The three intra-squad scrimmages, was what most of the thousands of people paid their $5 to see.

Hawks Coach Dennis Savard addressed the media. “There’s a buzz in Chicago, but there’s a buzz around the league too. They talk about the changes the Hawks have made and how their fans are coming back. The fans choose to come back because they see great things are going on here,” Savard told me. Later I would observe the interior of the Hawks locker room, where the slogan “EARN IT” is emblazoned above the tunnel to the ice. “We’re getting our fans back and we got to go out and earn their respect. We want ‘em here every night for the next decade, or two decades,” Savard stated.

The September 23rd Preseason game versus the Columbus Blue Jackets had just 200 tickets remaining as of Monday. There certainly is a buzz at the box office!

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