The past few years, the Blackhawks' training camp festival has been a grand, family affair.
Fans have packed the Madhouse on Madison to get that first glimpse of their favorite player wearing the Indian head before the start of the regular season.
But Blackhawks Nation was surprised to learn Monday that not only would the highly anticipated festival be held on a Monday (Sept. 16), but that the bulk of camp would be held at the University of Notre Dame, and not at Johnny's IceHouse on the West Side.
The announcement was bizarre on several levels. First, the festival is usually held the Saturday before camp begins. Now, many fans will not be able to attend because of work or school. Isn't the event for kids in the first place?
Also, why Notre Dame? The Blackhawks have fans everywhere. If they felt the need to take camp on the road, why there?
Well, it seems there is an incredibly unlikely culprit behind the scheduling of the festival and the relocation of camp: M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. Apparently when he's not steering a steamboat or trying to impress Minnie, he's stomping on the dreams of Hawks fans.
Sort of. You see, Disney on Ice will occupy the United Center from Sept. 11-15, forcing the Hawks to hold the festival that Monday, with preseason games starting Sept. 17.
As for the camp location decision, general manager Stan Bowman, a Notre Dame alum, explained in a statement: "Opening camp on the road offers our players and coaching staff a unique team bonding atmosphere. We look forward to bringing Blackhawks hockey to our fans in Northwest Indiana."
Although Mickey may be robbing you or your children of your Blackhawks festival dreams, don't fret. It's a safe bet there will be photos or video of a Hawks player or two re-enacting their favorite scene from "Rudy" on Notre Dame's campus ("Kaner!" "Kaner!" "Kaner!"). And I have $10 on Andrew Shaw starting the slow clap.
Scott King is a RedEye special contributor.
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