Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pack lightly

My anticipation only grew in the weeks leading up to the Chicago Blackhawks visit Tuesday. After having only one other attempt -- a mighty-swing-and-a-miss about five years ago outside a locked-down Cambridge, Mass., hotel -- let's say I was more than ready for this season's visit to Hockey Bay.

Not only was I pumped, but my puck-laden hounding bag was at its heaviest of the campaign. On a day when quality certainly topped quantity, I could've saved myself a ton of time by leaving more than half at home. The Blackhawks, save for one, didn't sign multiple pucks. It's been awhile since that happened.

The biggest letdown was the absence of goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who was hurt in Monday's practice in Chicago. A few Lightning Stanley Cup mementoes needing his fanciful Cyrillic signature will have to wait.

Beyond that, we have no complaints at all. We added another 33 autographs, including nine pucks, in two trips.

This is a talented team. The players are young. We'll all have plenty of time to collect our autographs.

Worthy of HoundCenter highlights:

~ Winger Patrick Kane taking care of a fellow Buffalo kid;
~ Captain Jonathan Toews paying homage to his college days;
~ Defenseman Brian Campbell changing his mind about signing;
~ Defenseman Cam Barker (or is it Cameron?) signing four cards; and
~ Thirteen players filling up Colin's team sheet.

Signing pucks, shown above, were:

Top row: Dustin Byfuglien, Martin Havlat and Cristobal Huet
Bottom row: Duncan Keith and Keith Seabrook

Signing cards were, from left, Troy Brouwer, Adam Burish and James Wisniewski (Yes, Wisniewski card is creased. Too much erasing.)

Don't forget, too, to check out the Blackhawks photo gallery.

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