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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

Current Chicago Blackhawks right wing Adam Burish was recently named the 26th most eligible single by Chicago magazine. The former Wisconsin Badger (and my Facebook friend) showed off his bachelor pad, complete with upscale wine fridge, for local NBC cameras recently and also talked about groupies at the second annual Hawks Fan Convention in Chicago last weekend.

Of all the panel discussions I heard on Sunday July 19th, the second most memorable moment (the first being the announcement that Chicago will wear their black Winter Classic jerseys as their official third sweater next season) was Burish being asked “What do you do when a fan approaches you and tries to make out with you?” Burish half-jokingly responded, “What does she look like?”

In the segment entitled “Chicago’s Most Wanted,” Burish was joined by Brian Campbell, Patrick Sharp, Tony Amonte and Steve Larmer to converse about being a celebrity in a sports-obsessed town. To further validate the point of this exercise, the Continental Ballroom packed in a standing room only crowd to hear this topic. When asked about groupies Burish said at the beginning of his response “Is this G, PG, PG-13, Is this X? You need to direct me where to go.” The panel host, WGN’s Steve Cochran, responded “Given the high amount of 11-year olds and Grandmothers here, let’s go with PG for now.”

“There’s some crazy female fans, you see them when you’re on the road, but I have to give some of these girls some credit, because they know what time you’re getting in. I don’t know what time practice is half the time, but they know. They know what time I’m getting in, they know where practice is. They know things about my Mom, my sister that I don’t even know. But whatever, it’s cool, it’s funny. These girls aren’t doing any harm, they’re not disrespecting anybody. Except for the ones that are knocking down your door at 4 in the morning,” Burish said regarding the stalkers and drunken groupies of the hockey world.

Elisha Cuthbert- the world's most famous hockey groupie

When Brian “Soupy” Campbell was asked the same question about drunken groupies, he did what anyone who has been properly advised by a PR professional would do- deflect the conversation completely away from anything remotely provocative and interesting, and instead re-frame the conversation in a manner family-friendly enough for Disney. “The practice rink got pretty crazy at times this year, trying to get from the rink to your car. I just don’t like it when the big guy pushes the kid out of the way, because you always try to get to the kids first- they’re important that way,” Soupy said. His statement, which utterly ignored the question at hand, was met with thunderous applause.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times, Walter Football.com and The Sports Bank

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank Jonathan Toews (pronounced “tay-ves”) was named Blackhawks team captain this past summer, therefore becoming the youngest player in the NHL to currently serve in that capacity and the third youngest player in NHL history to receive that honor. Last season he finished third in Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) voting while teammate Patrick Kane won the award. Toews however, led all NHL rookies in goals. He was second on the Hawks in that category and third on the team in assists.

I spoke with Toews just after a three-star performance that included an assist and a game-winning goal over the powerful Anaheim Ducks. The 4-2 win resulted from a furious comeback in which the Hawks found themselves down 2-1 late in the third period. “I think there’s a lot of games where we’re down in the third, especially thinking back to the game in Toronto where we came back and games like that give you confidence and we knew we could win this game all along with whatever it takes; going to overtime if necessary,” Jonathan said.toews_300

Toews later commented on the superb play of surprising rookie Kris Versteeg, the team’s third leading scorer. “He’s been incredible. Some guys come of the gate hard as a rookie and play their best hockey right away and it then it kind of dies out, but that hasn’t been the case for him. Every single night he’s doing something and he’s proved he belongs at the top with the skill players in the scheme,” Toews proclaimed.

The Blackhawks started their annual circus trip successfully, before going cold and dropping the last three. Toews talked about how big the home win was as they head into a huge road game against their acrimonious rival and division leader, the Detroit Red Wings. “We definitely would have had a sinking feeling if we came up on the short side, didn’t want to lose four in a row. We told ourselves in this locker room that great teams, those that hang in there and make the playoffs at the end of the year can manage those little slides and little tough streaks, so I think we did a good job of battling back,” he said.

For more Chicago Sports Analysis and discussion.

For my Washington Times.com blog “Chicago Blue State.”

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports BankWith over an estimated one-third of American adults defined as obese, something corrective must clearly be done. Educating the next generation is one way to help fight off this epidemic. On Thursday, the Blackhawks announced a major initiative towards fighting childhood obesity: a partnership with Nettelhorst, a Chicago Public School. The campaign began this Thursday, Oct. 30, when Chicago Blackhawks team president John McDonough served as ‘Principal for a Day’ at the school. McDonough toured the facilities and classrooms and interacted with the students. “It’s a privilege for me to be able to visit with the students of The Nettelhorst School and help launch such a special partnership,” he said.

 Chicago Blackhawks Charities donated $200,000 and various team sports equipment to Nettelhorst, and will additionally create a fitness center, floor hockey court, and inter-school floor hockey league for area schools in the future. McDonough elaborated on the importance of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle: “It really makes for a good student, and for somebody who’s going to be achieving a lot of things in life.”

The program’s goal is to instill a sense of leadership, self-esteem and self-confidence driven by active individual fitness and team sports experiences. “We admire the Blackhawks’ thought-leadership and proactive mindset in creating a partnership with Nettelhorst to offset the hardships created by decreasing government funding,” School Principal Cindy Wulbert said.

McDonough has participated in 12 ‘Principal for a Day,’ programs, which were created for community leaders to involve themselves and their organizations or associations in continued support throughout the year at their school. For adults, numerous local recreational sport and social leagues offer commercial winter floor hockey leagues, a very productive means for burning calories during the colder months.
I also participated in “Principal for a Day” yesterday too. Representing the Chicago 2016 Channel, I reported on Olympic Boxer and former WBC Lightweight Champion David Diaz returning to his alma mater, Carl Von Linne School.

For more Chicago Sports Analysis and discussion.

For my Washington Times.com blog “Chicago Blue State.”

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Cara Carriveau, NBC5 Street Team

I love my husband more than words can say. Seeing him happy makes me so happy. Without a doubt his favorite rocker is Eddie Vedder and his favorite sport to watch is hockey – specifically, the Detroit Red Wings. As he would say to anyone who questions his loyalty to the Wings…two words: Stanley Cup. Lot’s of ’em. So what a thrill it was to be with him last night as he got to experience them both together.

Pearl Jam is an amazing band to see live and I’m happy to say we’ve had the pleasure many, many times. Part of the appeal is not only the band but also the fans – everyone seems to be instant friends at every show which is pretty cool. We saw Vedder with The Who and on another occasion with Robert Plant (my all time favorite rocker) at the House of Blues – wow, those were spectacular shows. We were pleasantly surprised to see Vedder walk out onstage during a Springsteen concert at The United Center a few years ago (absolutely the highlight of that show even though he sang my least favorite Springsteen tune, “My Hometown”). But this was a rare Eddie Vedder solo tour and we were ecstatic to be at the closing night in Chicago.

We made it to our seats in the Auditorium Theatre about 10 minutes before Eddie Vedder hit the stage, just in time to see Chris Chelios walk out onto a balcony holding the Stanley Cup! The crowd went absolutely crazy. My first thought was “does he carry that thing around every where he goes?” and my second thought was “I want to touch it!” but unfortunately we were too far away.

Eddie Vedder was in top form, his voice and guitar playing perfect and his interaction with the crowd at times halarious. At one point he told a drunk heckler to shut the F-up, then said “That was impolite. I meant to say shut the F-up…please.” Later in the show he said he wasn’t going to get “too political” and then someone walked behind him on stage with a massive “Vote For Barack Obama” sign. Vedder wore a white lab coat, making him look either like a crazy scientist or the musical genius he is. Included in his song selection were many mainstream and deeper Pearl Jam songs, four Who covers and selections from his soundtrack to the 2007 film ”Into the Wild.” After the last encore he brought out “Into The Wild” director Sean Penn (who it turns out was singing backup onstage – I was too far away to realize it), opener Liam Finn, and many other people he credited with making his solo tour such a great success.

Excellent show. But the best part was seeing my husband smile nonstop for hours, from the time he saw the Stanley Cup until his head hit the pillow when we got home.

(There’s already video popping up on the internet from last night’s show)

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The Sports Bank, NBC5 Street Team 2008 continues to be an eventful and exciting time for the Chicago Blackhawks organization and their fans. Last month Patrick Kane was named NHL Rookie of the Year; the team made a huge splash in free agency by signing All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell, and on July 16th it was announced that the Chicago Blackhawks will host their rival the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in NHL Winter Classic 2009 on New Year’s Day. No two NHL opponents have played more regular-season games against each other, and their 701st meeting will be just the third outdoor game in league history. Also, the first annual fan convention will take place at the Hilton Towers on Michigan Avenue this weekend. Event festivities include autograph and photo sessions with current Blackhawks stars such as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, former stars like Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, and Tony Esposito, Q&A sessions with current Blackhawks management, broadcasters and alumni, coaches and front office staff detailing their Stanley Cup strategy, exhibitions, interactive games, a live HawkCast (podcast) taping.  $50 weekend convention passes sold out in mere hours. Opening Ceremonies will begin Friday at 5. Saturday festivities run 9 am – 7pm and Sunday 9 am – 2pm.

For more on hockey nerd heaven, I sought the opinion of Stan Bowman, Assistant General Manager, Hockey Operations. Bowman is a frequent guest on “Hawkcast,” the team’s official weekly podcasts, an authority on player scouting and development and even housed Patrick Kane during his rookie year.  His father Scotty Bowman is the all-time winningest head coach in NHL history. In my exclusive interview, Stan Bowman described this weekend’s convention thusly: “In hockey no team has ever done it before and just the reception we’ve gotten from it in that it sold out so quickly and lots of people wanting tickets and people wanting to come see it. It’s going to a good setup for everybody. It’s similar in style and format to the Cubs convention; obviously John McDonough is the one who pioneered the concept back in the early 80s, and it’s taken off to the point where it’s a big event and that’s where the hockey one is going too.”

For the full Bowman interview click here. For more Chicago Sports analysis and discussion click here.

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