What I miss about covering the Blackhawks

What I miss about covering the Blackhawks

Nothing against Blippi. Due credit for building a loyal YouTube empire. Seems like a guy you'd want to get an apple juice with. 

Elena of Avalor and Mira, Royal Detective are ambitious, young, promising Disney employees. But like a lot of you, I'm ready to work in the field again.

The truth is, after a lot of long days and late nights as a sports writer, this extra time with my wife and two kids has been very beneficial and was needed.

With that said, they also need school, friends, their grandparents and to see their parents go to work. Plus, I really need hockey.

The Blackhawks' last game was on March 11, a Wednesday. They enjoyed a crowd-pleasing, decisive 6-2 victory over the visiting San Jose Sharks. 

Earlier that day, famed NBC Sports play-by-play announcer Mike 'Doc' Emrick bought a table full of Hawks writers a meal at The Palace Grill, located a few blocks east of the United Center, for his annual Cancer Survivors' lunch in celebration of Emrick being cancer free another year.

That was the last time I covered a hockey game. 27 days ago. The NHL paused amid the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12. 

Like everyone, I've spent weeks watching this pandemic play out, tragically impacting some more than others, and wondering what the future holds. I'm eagerly waiting for life to resemble the normalcy of the not too distant past so we can go back to enjoying the finer things, like live hockey.

There's so much I miss about covering the sport. I welcome the time when I get to experience my gameday routine again and the limitless possibilities of what could unfold over the course of a day when there's an NHL contest at the United Center.

I miss having a cup of coffee while listening to SiriusXM's "Jim and Sam” on my drive from the suburbs to the United Center. You won't find a funnier, more entertaining show.

I miss the chill of the 100-level concourse greeting me as I walk in to cover the morning skate.

I miss the loose, casual vibe after morning skates that often allows for meaningful, one-on-one conversations with players if you're able to procure such a chat. I wouldn't mind one of those right about now. 

I miss writing a pregame story before heading to The Palace with a few writers and being forced to make the difficult decision of choosing between lunch or breakfast at 1 p.m. I could go for one of our conversations about what's transpiring with the team at the restaurant, usually followed by Palace owner George Lemperis sitting down to entertain us with a Rolodex of jokes, and me laughing the hardest at the ones that make everyone else blush and squirm because I ain't right.

RELATED — Inside The Palace Grill, the Blackhawks' official restaurant

I miss my second cup of coffee at The Palace, and my third and often fourth at the United Center.

I miss getting my bag from the media room and crossing paths with Hall of Famers like Chris Chelios and Tony Esposito, who work with the Blackhawks now, on my way up to the press box. After sitting for a bit, I usually draw the player with one of the longest cold streaks in our goal pool (whoever picks the Hawk that scores first wins). I'd definitely take that kind of action now.

I miss game time inching closer when I return to my seat in the box after grabbing some pretzels and a bottle of water as fans take their seats. 

I miss the first glimpse of the Hawks' radiant red sweaters in pregame warmups and seeing the line combinations. They provide insight as to who is being rewarded, who's in the doghouse and how the game might unfold. 

I miss hearing what we've all known for years to be the best National Anthem in sports sung by Jim Cornelison. 

I miss puck drop. I can't imagine the thrill of seeing live NHL game play right now. Big league speed and skill, and the jubilation of a goal would be a welcomed replacement for "Ozark" and "Tiger King," the new agents that have been raising my dopamine levels.

I miss seeing legendary sports writers like Bob Verdi and legendary broadcasters like Eddie Olczyk, and thinking how ridiculous it is that they know a guy's name who used to be a kid in the seats. 

I miss what is reportedly one of, if not the best second-intermission spreads for media in the NHL. After overindulging in the fine buffet, I kick my writing into second gear before sluggishly heading down to the media room to put the finishing touches on my game “Takeaways” near the midway mark of the third period. You can catch the remainder of the game on TVs in the room.

I miss the finality of a game's conclusion. Something was gained and lost for not just both teams, but for every player who stepped on the ice. 

I miss thinking of story angles and corresponding questions as I wait for the locker room to open for player availability. 

I miss jostling for position in postgame scrums, which at times could best be described as a mosh pit with occasional professional courtesies. 

I miss the look on a player's face when he's asked the same question for a second, third and sometimes fourth time by a media member arriving late to a scum. The redundancy seems maddening for them, but we all need our quotes and sometimes have to go to multiple scrums. The players always accommodate the repeat questions in one way or another.

I miss Jeremy Colliton's insightful assessment of the game and his players. He doesn't throw people under the bus, but he's honest.

I miss writing my second postgame story and seeing the impact that quotes from Colliton and the players can have on it, and where to plug them in.

I miss finishing "Jim and Sam" on the way home in the car while drinking a water from the United Center (opened with press meal, not stolen). 

I miss the peacefulness and guilt of walking into a dark and quiet house, knowing the screaming, tantrum-driven circus my wife endured getting the kids to bed a few hours ago.

I miss the comfort of knowing I'll get to see my family a lot more when Blackhawks are off or have practice the next day.

Which brings me back to the present. I'm seeing them a lot during all of this, and we're safe. For now, that's what's important. 

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device. 

Blackhawks' Patrick Kane issues statement against racism

Blackhawks' Patrick Kane issues statement against racism

On Friday, Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane authored a Twitter thread against racism composed of four tweets that read as follows:

"Racism and injustice in our country must end.  

"As a white male in this society, I will never truly understand. But I want to help in this fight for change - and I know I cannot do that in silence. 

"I’m here to listen and to educate myself – but most importantly, to act. While I have so much more to learn and do, I was inspired by @jahmal_cole words, ‘What’s something simple I can do that will have a positive impact on my block?’

"Today, I’m contributing to Chicago’s own @mbmhmc (My Block, My Hood, My City) and @ASPChicago (All Stars Project of Chicago) and encourage others to learn more about the many inspirational and impactful organizations serving the black community.

"You may have seen this video already, but I think it’s important to share. It helped me begin to better understand systemic racism and open my eyes to the problems many may not be aware of."

Kane linked the following video, titled "Systemic Racism Explained", in his final tweet:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews and Malcolm Subban participate in event for local youth

Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews and Malcolm Subban participate in event for local youth

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and goalie Malcolm Subban participated in a By the Hand Club event for Kids in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago's West Side Thursday. 

Per, the event was coordinated by Bears outside linebacker Sam Acho. Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and receiver Allen Robinson also took part in the function, along with Cubs players Jason Heyward and Jason Kipnis and the Bulls' Ryan Arcidiacono and Max Strus. 

The pro athletes spoke with children and representatives from the By the Hand Club, BUILD and the Westside Health Authority. Chicago police officers also joined to help form "healing circles." 

The group then took a bus tour of the neighborhood led by Alderman Emma Mitts and a youth leader from the By the Hand Club. Congressman Danny Davis also spoke to the group. 

The By the Hand Club for Kids is an after-school program whose mission is "helping children who live in under-resourced neighborhoods have an abundant life."

BUILD — Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership — an organization focusing on gang intervention, violence prevention and youth development, strives "to engage at-risk youth in schools and on the streets to help them realize their potential and contribute to our communities."

The Westside Health Authority provides services, promotes wellness and development, and encourages and enables growth, engagement and positive change. Its mission is "to use the capacity of local residents to improve the health and well-being of the community."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.