Hawks tip their caps to fans

Here's what Blackhawks players had to say about fans attending practice:



7th year on Hawks

[Fans] obviously enjoy it. It’s good for them to come in and see what we do on days when we're not playing. All the hard work we do, all the drills and stuff. It's fun for them just to see that part of it.

My first year I thought it was pretty cool. I'd never really had that before in my career, whether it be junior or in the minors or stuff. It only really started when I came here and got to see all the fans here in the stands. It was pretty exciting. We're pretty fortunate to have the kind of support that we do here in Chicago.



3rd year on Hawks, previously with Florida

In Florida, the fans are a little bit less fans than over here, you know? It's not a crazy hockey town there. You want to play somewhere where hockey is for fans kind of the first thing. It's a popular sport over here in Chicago. It's always nice to see the fans waiting for autographs and stuff. It's great. The whole year since I've been here. I can't complain.

If I was a fan it would be pretty cool to be that close to the players. They can really see from a short distance what we're doing there and how fast is the game and how hard we pass and those kind of things. If I was a fan, it would be a good thing to watch.



2nd year on Hawks

It's definitely really cool. I've never had that in the past. I think it makes practice a little more fun.

A lot of fans have said that they like getting to see players goof off. Your name has come up a few times as a goofer. Guilty as charged?

I think a little bit. Especially after practice, I like having fun with guys. Especially Shawzie [Andrew Shaw]. But yeah, you gotta have fun in practice.

What do you do?

Just give 'em a hard time. Give [my teammates] a whack here or there and see what happens.



2nd year on Hawks

It's my first time being a part of it, and I think it's cool knowing they're excited seeing us in games and to be able to see us practice too. It's an opportunity to come see us more, so yeah, I think it's great that they let them in. Chicago's obviously a great hockey town, so it's exciting to play in front of them.



2nd year on Hawks

I think it's pretty cool to have the great support of the fan base here in Chicago. They show up every day in practice just like we do. Even at the games, they're unbelievable. It just shows that the city of Chicago loves their hockey.

Do you have any favorite stories of interacting with fans at practice?

Shaw: Some guys have paintings or drawings they give you. I think that's pretty neat that they do that.

Someone gave you a painting? Like of you?

Shaw: Yeah, a few people did. I gave them to my parents back home. They love them. So you try to give back to them if you can. Give them a stick or just an autograph or something.

If you met a die-hard Hawks fan who had never been to practice, what would you tell him or her about why they should come?

It's exciting to see the skilled players we have here work on their individual skills after practice. And just to see how the boys have fun out there, and how we're such a tight-knit group. It kind of pushes into the games too.



3rd year on Hawks, previously with Toronto

I think it's good [that fans] can come here and watch it. It's exciting for them to be able to get closer to us. It's more personal than a game would be. The one team I was on before didn't have open practice too often, so it's kind of a cool thing. I think the fans appreciate us.

If you met a die-hard Hawks fan who had never been to practice, what would you tell him or her about why they should come?

Oh, I don't know. I wouldn't go watch a practice myself. [Laughs.] I think the games are exciting, but I just think they want to see us up close and personal. I don't know why you would come watch a practice. For young kids it's probably fun to come and see some different things, to see what we work on and what you can learn from us in practice. Or just die-hard fans, it's probably fun to see us a little closer.

They're great fans. We're excited we have fans like this who come to practice. That's certainly not the case in all teams around the league. So we're fortunate to have the fans that we have here.

Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. Say hey @ReadJack.

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