Nov 042011

By Rich Lindbloom

The last weekend in October is set aside on our calendar for the annual Father/Son camp out in Oakland, Il.  My son and I have attended seven years straight , often times waking up with frost on our noses. Basically, we are exposed to the great outdoors nonstop from Thursday evening, until Sunday afternoon, dealing with whatever mother nature decides to throw our way. Interspersed with the solid teaching of Norm Wakefield, we canoe, fish, paint ball, skeet shoot, play 15 on 15 football and many other manly type things. Impromptu voices singing “Men, men, men, men, big strong men” can be heard throughout Walnut State Park. Yet, it seems every year about the second week of October, I start questioning if I really want to lay on the ground for three nights in a bag that you sleep in. Especially if it means I’ll miss two Hawk games, although from what I’ve garnered, I didn’t miss much on Friday when we succumbed to an inspired Cane club.

Admittedly, it gets a little tougher every year to finally, (after much deliberation), crawl out of that bag and throw some jeans and socks on in those brisk fall mornings. Not to mention those 3 a.m. junkets to a tree to relieve yourself in bare feet and skivvies. Although even that can be a an adventure as you gaze at the magnified stars in the sky. There is no problem locating the Big Dipper in Oakland! Over the years my son Greg has seemed to inherit some of my fire starting skills. He actually takes great pride in getting the fire going in the morning, before I poke my groggy head out of the tent. Greg uses the tried and tested “teepee” method of campfire construction, far superior to the log cabin method utilized by some greenhorns I used to camp with.

My favorite part of the weekend is sitting around the campfire in the morning with a strong cup of black coffee. It is about as close as I’ll ever come to feeling like John Wayne. As we get as close to the fire as we can without singing your eyebrows, staring mindlessly into the fire seems to concentrate ones innermost thoughts. “Should I put another log upon the fire?” ‘If Bob hadn’t rearranged the darn logs into the log cabin configuration, there wouldn’t be smoke blowing in my eyes?” ‘Dang, I wonder what time/how cold it is?” Or the granddaddy thought of them them all, “I wonder if I should take a shower sometime this morning?” One thing for certain, to keep the fire blazing you need to move the logs around to maximize the intensity of the fire. While I was gone, apparently Coach Q did a little fire tending to hopefully keep the Blackhawks roaring. Something tells me if you went camping with Q, it wouldn’t take too long before you told him to quit messing with the campfire.

I was a little shocked to hear that Sharp had joined Kane’s line. I’m afraid pretty soon Scott is going to be on the Captain’s line. If Kaner keeps playing like he has been, the smoke detectors at the United Center are going to go off. Lancefister wrote on the secondcityhockey blog “There was a time in the third period where Kane had the puck on the wall and he basically stick-handled around two (dumbfounded) defenders without actually moving his feet. He stayed in the same spot but still ‘opened up space’ for him to make a pass.” As we all know, real estate is precious in hockey. Creating space is what the great ones do. Of course Crazy 88’s playmaking abilities are certainly augmented by the player I like to call “Beast of the Boards,” the #81 car. Datsyuk may be the only player I can think of that can keep the puck alive along the boards like Big Hoss does. In fact, a Bonanza comparison is not out of line when considering this line. You got Big Hoss, Little Joe and of course the strikingly handsome Adam, (Sharpie); heck with a little imagination you could swap Coach Q for ‘Paw.” (Would that make Kitchen – Hop Sing?)

The Predator’s answer to Walt (no neck) Williams, Barry Trotz, noted that the Hawks Power Play team resembled an All-Star team. Sharp-Toews-Kane-Hossa-Bolland not scoring on a 5-3 is the 8th wonder of the world. For all you worrywarts wringing your hands over the Hawk power play I have one word of advice, CHILL!!! Kaner got this thing. There’s a lot of things in this world to be concerned about, the Blackhawk power play is not one of them. I must mention that it somewhat excites me when one of my hockey observations actually aligns with someone who knows what they’re talking about. The case in point was Brian Donahue’s wrap on Blackhawk Up after the Pred’s game. Brian questioned why Brunette was not used in the 5-3 or other P.P. situations. Bruno seems to have a Phil Esposito type quality to his play, picking up the pieces that are left scattered about the goal crease. As the Grateful Dead once sang, “one man gathers what another man spills.”

Another observation by a knowledgeable writer that lined up with mine was Jeffrey Bartl. He noted that it seems the place to beat the sequoia in Nashville’s net was to shoot the puck about two feet off the ground, 1” to 2”’s from the post. Bick’s, Kaner’s and the Swedish Studmuffin’s goal, all seemed to follow that pattern. Admittedly, I only saw from the third period on, but this game didn’t seem to follow the usually soporific Predator game plan. We had ample opportunities to light the lamp in the third, and even the Preds made my heart skip a beat a few times. Mr. Big was huge on Toto’s breakaway, denying access to his igloo. If ever there was a player perfectly designed for Trotz’s system, Jordan Tootoo is it. (On a totally disconnected side note, two enthusiastic thumbs up on the Predator’s new home uniforms.) By the way, if you’re sitting around the campfire and someone like coach Q starts messing with it, there’s a way to dispel the smoke from getting in your eyes. Just keep repeating, “I hate bunnies, I hate bunnies.” I think it might work on breakaways also – give it a try Crow,

Two last observations on the Pred win before I lay bare my soul and make a difficult, heartfelt, confession. I’ve been known to get a little too verbose when describing a player or play during a game. Once again, Jeffrey Bartl was able to capture the essence of Stalberg’s second game winning goal in a row in his excellent “Boxing with Bartl” feature. He simply noted on a traffic sign, “All lanes open – Floor It!” It was clearly a “This is the cereal that’s shot from guns,” goal. If Stahl’s keeps this up, get ready for more IKEA commercials. Can you say kottbullar?

And, as Co-founder and President of the Duncan Keith Admiration Society, I’d be remiss if I didn’t state the loss was tarnished by the injury to the fleet footed defense man who wears #2. The Duncster, has been the subject of seemingly incessant electron microscopial criticism. Tell the truth now; when you observed how the other d-men tried to fill in for him, you noticed some things he does on a regular basis that tend to go unnoticed. Like beating the other teams forwards to the puck in our zone for example. As Joni Mitchell so wistfully laments, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” O’Donnell and Leddy tonight? Seriously? –just another good reason to keep the poker stick out of Coach Q’s hands.

There’s something I’ve needed to get off my chest for awhile, as close to a mortal sin as you can get. I may have to wear sackcloth and ashes to try to atone for this unpardonable offense on Sunday night when the truly vile Vancouver Canucks defile the United Center ice. Last year when the Canucks outlasted a doggedly determined effort by the Predators, I decided I was going to root for the Nuckleheads.  I know, blasphemy, right? I started blogging on the Nucks Misconduct website and actually grew to like a few of the characters over there. On one entry, a girl replied, “That was the nicest thing a Blackhawk fan ever said about us.” I think they always eyed me with suspicion, but truly, the Canucks were the lesser of three evils, the other two being the Sharks and the Bruins.

When my daughter and son found out I was rooting for Vancouver, they were shocked. “Dad, how could you!” exclaimed Taylor. They even threatened me with statements like, “If you root for the Canucks, you’re no longer our dad.” I thought to myself, “This is family, I’d probably be banned from the Second City hockey website, or worse, if my cover was blown.” And Sam Fels knows where  my seats are; I picked up from his Eulogy for the Canucks he wasn’t particularly fond of the insufferable Vancouver fans. In truth, I actually felt sorry for the Canuck fans. A verse from an Indigo Girls song came to mind as their city burned to the ground.

“I stopped by a bar at 3 a.m.
To seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
I woke up with a headache like my head against the board
Twice as cloudy as I’d been the night before
I went seeking clarity.”

And the less I see of John Scott on the bench,
The closer I am to fine. (Or something like that.)

Well rest assured, the hatred is back. Bring on the Burrows and Kesler piñata’s. Kill, kill, kill! Bieksa’s a bum, Luongo’s a sieve, the Oiler’s are going to own you this year and the Blackhawks rule. Good luck making the playoffs and find someone who can sing our National Anthem. I think I covered it all – should be a great one Sunday night. Oh one last thing, leave the Sisters, (Thing One and Thing Two), at home-Bolland will manhandle them.

Speaking of leaving the girls at home, the camp we attended last weekend was started on the suggestion of one of the founders three year old son. He said, “Dad, can we go on a camping trip without the girls?” One thing led to another and that initial “no girls allowed “ camping trip that contained a total of 8 fathers and sons, has blossomed into over 600 attendee’s this year. As we attempted to pose for this year’s camp picture, I felt like I was being compressed into a giant mass of testosterone. (Cramming 15 college kids into a VW Beetle would have been an easier task!) As we unshaven, unbathed, unkempt and flatulence laden men and boys tried to squeeze in to the picture, a thought crossed my mind…

There are many volunteers who help make the camp run smoothly. There’s a number of ladies who volunteer to help with the food distribution at dinner time. In addition, Chris Miller’s lovely daughters play a four piece, string quartet at the Sunday closing service. As I gazed upon the beauty  of the fairer sex after spending three days with nothing but men I thought, “What a pitiful, empty world this would be without women.” Even if they do insist we wash our hands and change clothes! Oh what the heck, let the Sedin’s play.

Rich Lindbloom

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