Blackhawks

Blackhawks, fans build bond through social media

749710.jpg

Blackhawks, fans build bond through social media

We live in a society where information is made public immediately. Whether it's hard news or what an athlete ate for dinner, we can most likely find out the answer in a very short period of time.
Since the creation of Twitter, sports teams have taken full advantage of each 140 character message to send news quickly to fans. But now, a majority of the impact social media has between organizations and their fans comes greatly from the players themselves.
Andrew Shaw, Brandon Bollig, Jimmy Hayes and Bryan Bickell are the Blackhawks' social media gurus and participated in a question panel about Twitter at this weekend's Blackhawks Convention. From interacting with fans to just having a great time, each has created a newer, stronger presence as a member of the team because of the online relationships they've created with their followers.
"It's great to show fans what we do on a regular basis," Bryan Bickell said. "I like having that chance to interact with them, plus I think my fishing pictures go over pretty well."
But whether the players are specifically interacting with fans or just joking with one another, their thousands of followers read their posts and feel more of a personal bond with each of them.
"I've just been really funny on it," Jimmy Hayes says with a laugh. "I use it to post jokes and just have a good time."
Hayes' account is dedicated to making readers laugh, and as one of the newest players on the team, he's proven social media is an effective way of attracting fans by showing off his personality right away.
Although all four athletes receive countless tweets and messages throughout each day, they said they read through all that is sent to them and enjoy seeing what the fans have to say. Brandon Bollig admits it's "really cool seeing peoples' reactions" after making a good play on the ice or scoring a goal.
Out of the four players on the panel, Shaw has received the most hype online, but that doesn't mean he pays less attention to the overwhelming responses he gets. When asked which out of the thousands of tweets he remembers most, he immediately replied:
"Chuck Norris wears Andrew Shaw's pajamas to bed."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

jonathan_toews.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

joel_quenneville_2.jpg
USA TODAY

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

After losing their eighth straight game and falling 12 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks' playoff chances have dipped to a season-low 0.2 percent. It would take a miracle for them to extend their postseason streak to 10 at this point, where getting just one win seems like a monumental task.

The Blackhawks were probably never really going to be buyers before the Feb. 26 trade deadline even if they were still in the hunt, but it's hard to imagine they had plans to be sellers. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has reiterated over and over again that he's confident in this group, one that's getting younger and faster.

But now they've reached a territory where they have to consider selling off spare parts simply to coup some draft picks or prospects that they could perhaps retain or use as sweeteners in the offseason.

So which players could the Blackhawks realistically sell?

Let's start with the two players getting rewarded with top-six ice time as of late: Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels.

These are two players that play with high energy and go to the greasy areas, something that's important in the playoffs when scoring goals becomes more difficult. They can clean up rebounds. Wingels, particularly, likely has more value and it's showing given his recent success on the power play as a net-front presence guy. He also isn't a stranger to the playoffs with 54 games under his belt compared to Bouma's five.

Both of them are pending unrestricted free agents and are making $1 million or fewer, which certainly works in the Blackhawks' favor considering they won't cost much and their cap hits are easy to fit in on any interested team.

Maybe a team would like to take a flyer on Tomas Jurco, who's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but that would be a move somebody makes as more of a longer term project than strengthening your depth for a playoff run this spring.

On the back end, Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta could be in play for a contender looking to ensure some depth as a sixth or seventh defenseman. Again, each of them are making less than $1 million so it's a low-risk situation for clubs whose Plan A or B fall through and may be interested in at least getting something.

While they don't have much NHL experience, they're both 27 years old and have played the sport long enough to know what they can bring to the table.

Once Feb. 26 passes and potential roster spots open up, expect the Blackhawks to start calling up the kids. 

Matthew Highmore deserves a look after leading the Rockford IceHogs with 20 goals and 32 points. John Hayden has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games since joining Rockford, and belongs in the NHL. Even Anthony Louis, who's taken a step forward, should get a taste of the action as he continues his development.

Carl Dahlstrom is getting his shot now. Erik Gustafsson is in that process as well. Gustav Forsling had another extended look during the first half of the season before the team decided it would be wise to continue his development in Rockford, where he can play top-pairing minutes.

All of this would give the Blackhawks a better indicator of how they can approach the upcoming offseason, and which young guys they can possibly add into the mix for 2018-19. But first, we have to see how the end of February plays out before making those calls.