Blackhawks

Blackhawks take different approaches to Twitter

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Blackhawks take different approaches to Twitter

Sami Lepisto was just trying to help Viktor Stalberg out a little bit.

The Blackhawks defenseman had dinner at Stalbergs home one night this fall and let Twitter followers know about Stalbergs stellar domestic abilities. And, Lepisto added in his tweet, Ladies he is single!!

From time to time you have to do something like that, Lepisto said with a smile.

Stalberg did get a laugh and an immediate spike in his followers.

I dont think it boosted (my personal life) but I did get a lot of hits that day, thats for sure, he said. A lot of guys are against (Twitter) but its a fun way to keep in touch with fans; especially for guy like me whos not in the center of the media stitch every day like (Jonathan) Toews and others. Obviously we cant say everything on there, but its a fun way to keep in touch.

Welcome to the world of Twitter, which up until this season featured very few Blackhawks. But between veterans and newly acquired players, more Chicago players have entered the social-media world. Their reasons for joining or quitting are as different as their individual personalities:

timingiseverything

Patrick Sharp joined Twitter in March, just as the Blackhawks got to Washington D.C. to play the Capitals and visit the White House. As expected, the right wing got a lot of followers in no time.

Sharps first tweet came when the Blackhawks visited the Walter Reed Army Medical Center on that D.C. visit. It would be his only tweet. In hindsight, Sharp said his timing may not have been the best.

I didnt think in March, near the playoffs, was a good time to do that, Sharp said. It exploded there one night in Washington. I was getting a lot of messages and felt I had a lot of responsibility and I wasnt ready for that.

Sharp said there is an invasive side to it, too.

Probably the issue I had is Im all for fan interaction and I love talking to and meeting different fans. But I dont like the idea of having a bad game and hearing about it from 15,000 different people, said Sharp, who added that he may try Twitter again in the future. But there are two sides to every coin. Those negatives are outweighed by maybe having some fun with it.

feelingthelove

Patrick Kane is the latest of the Blackhawks to join. His account was confirmed after the Blackhawks final preseason home game on Sept. 29. When Kane went to sleep that night, he said he had about 4,000 followers. By the next morning, he had nearly 20,000.

Pretty crazy, Kane said. The numbers are almost kind of scary and make you cringe a little bit.

Kane, who now has more than 60,000 followers, doesnt tweet often; the last entry on his account was Nov. 19, his birthday. But he nevertheless appreciates the fan response.

Its pretty cool way to interact with the fans, he said. I could probably get better at it. Sometimes Im thinking about so many other things I dont pay attention to it. But it can be used for pretty good reasons.

wannabet?

When defenseman Steve Montador joined Twitter a few months ago he wasnt keeping close check on how many folks started to follow him. But his sister did. So she bet him he couldnt get so many followers in a set amount of time. When Montador reached the first number she bet, she upped the numbers.

She said, Well, get 10,000 by the end of the week. I actually got there now so I should chirp her, Montador said. I didnt impress her enough in the week.

For Montador, Twitter is more of a promotional tool for team or personal causes. He wont get too personal.

Im a little more private than Twitter typically allows for, so for the most part its something Ill keep on the professional side, he said. But I do appreciate the following and the people who respond. Its fun to follow friends and people in the business and what not. Its unique that you can connect that way.
friendsinhighplaces

Its always easier to join a group when you know one of the top guys in it. Thats how it was for Jamal Mayers, who has a friend in the executive ranks of Twitter. He told Mayers how it all worked, got the Blackhawks forward verified in a matter of days and explained how Twitter was a safe social-media option.

Its not like any of those other things where people can directly contact you necessarily. That safety helps, said Mayers. Obviously you have to be aware of what youre writing. Its definitely far-reaching; it has an effect on you, the organization and your family. So you have to be aware of what youre writing.

proceedwithcaution

When youre an outspoken individual, Twitter can be dangerous territory. Daniel Carcillo is certainly one of those guys, and hes very careful to walk that line between having fun and tweeting TMI.

When I first got it, it was a little overwhelming. Im pretty outspoken, and on that you have to think three or four times before you write it, Carcillo said. So it wasnt a good fit in the beginning and so you live and learn.

Carcillos done that. Hes used Twitter for fun making fun of Kanes mustache, or lack thereof, during Movember and for his interests such as his friends T-shirt company, jaktapparel.com, and his new radio show on WGN.

Its kind of just building your own name and getting it out there, outside of hockey if you have other interests, he said. You can see the advantages to it.

Welcome back: Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk's 'best medicine'

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Welcome back: Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk's 'best medicine'

ST. LOUIS – Eddie Olczyk’s morning at Scottrade Center was full of hugs and handshakes, of questions and encouraging words, of smiles and even some tears.

It was a busy morning but a good one for Olczyk, who Wednesday night will do his first hockey broadcast since being diagnosed with colon cancer in August. For the first time in a while, Olczyk felt like himself.

“It feels normal. It feels comfortable,” said Olczyk, who will be alongside Doc Emrick when the Blackhawks face the St. Louis Blues. “I just feel invigorated. Seeing a lot of familiar faces, guys busting chops and a lot of well wishes.”

Olczyk went through his usual game-day routine, including quick chats with Blackhawks players following skate. On Wednesday those talks were that much more special, for both sides.

“Great to see him,” said Ryan Hartman. “When I first saw I was pretty excited to see him back. It’s definitely a presence you know when you’re watching games, that voice you heard growing up. He looks good, looks healthy. He’s in a battle but he looks really good.”

Olczyk will also be in the booth on Thursday night when the Blackhawks host the Edmonton Oilers. Past that, he’ll play it by ear. He’s talked to NBC and Blackhawks president John McDonough, who Olczyk said gave him an “open canvas” in terms of scheduling. If Olczyk feels good on Saturday and the Blackhawks play on Sunday, he’ll try to get back in the booth.

“We think about him every day and we’ve had the pleasure of having him come by a couple of times. Having him be here today for a road game is great to know,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “But he has a tough battle ahead of him and he’s doing everything he can to fight it. We support him every single day.”

Olczyk started chemotherapy treatments in September and he has his good and bad days. Those will continue for a while. So will his fight to completely beat this. But for at least the next two nights Olczyk gets to return to a normal routine, and that’s the perfect panacea for a trying time.

“I’m overwhelmed with everybody,” Olczyk said. “But this is the best medicine I’ve had in a long time.”

Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

Lance Bouma took his place at fourth-line left wing as the Blackhawks rolled their forward rushes on Tuesday morning. As the Blackhawks have tinkered with their trios, Bouma, whose final two seasons with the Calgary Flames were filled with uncertainty, has found a consistent role in this lineup.

“Obviously I was brought here for a reason,” Bouma said. “Things didn’t go the way I wanted them to in Calgary. To come here to Chicago and have that role, it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

The Blackhawks knew what they wanted from Bouma and his fellow fourth liners: some physical play, some energy and if there are any scoring opportunities, bonus. It’s a second chance for Bouma, whose contract was terminated by the Flames on June 30.

“I think it’s definitely a motivator knowing that you get in that situation where all of a sudden, ‘OK, I have to almost start over again and I have to prove to a new team that I belong in this league and I can play,’” coach Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday. “There are always circumstances where teams make decisions like that. We’ve been a part of it. And moving forward as a player, you’ve gotta look at it as a fresh opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get back to playing your game.”

After recording 16 goals and 18 assists in the 2014-15 season, Bouma signed a three-year, $6.6 million deal with the Flames. The next two seasons didn’t go as planned as Bouma dealt with injuries, inconsistent play and healthy scratches. So getting that call from the Blackhawks was a huge lift.

“I was just looking forward to a fresh start and something new,” he said. “I just was ready to come into camp and have a great season and it’s been great so far.”

[MORE: Eddie Olczyk expected to return to broadcasting booth this week

Tommy Wingels, who has centered the Blackhawks’ fourth line the last several games – and will again vs. St. Louis on Wednesday – said Bouma looks “refreshed” this season.

“Obviously whether it’s a team doesn’t want to bring you back or it’s a trade or buyout, there’s certainly something that deep down gets you going,” Wingels said. “I think it was a good summer for him mentally to come to a new organization, come to a new group of guys and re-establish his game. It’s tough when you’re with the same coaches, same team for so long; maybe what you do gets taken for granted. He looks good and he’s skating really well and I think he moves really well for a big man. He’s strong on the pucks and he’s a good asset for us.

Bouma isn’t here to be a top-six player. He’s not here to fulfill a contract that he no longer has. The Blackhawks needed depth, energy and a physical presence and in brining that, Bouma has earned steady work.  

“We knew the player coming in that we wanted him to play that style and he’s done a good job of it, too,” Quenneville said of Bouma. “So it’s something we were looking for in our needs and it fit perfectly."