Monday, December 22, 2014

Combining Interests: Knitting and Crochet with Hockey

The obvious tie between hockey and knitting and crochet is that hockey sweaters were originally knit wool sweaters, and instead of buying replica sweaters from a store many mothers knitted them for their children. I saw wool sweaters for every Original 6 team and several more Blackhawks ones at the Blackhawks Convention, and they were clearly wool hockey sweaters.

Another less obvious connection is goalies wearing toques. A recent example of a goalie wearing a toque is Jonathan Bernier at the 2014 Winter Classic, wearing a machine knit team toque over his mask. Goalies wearing toques had a much earlier start, out of practicality. Jacques Plante wore hand knitted toques most of his career, starting from when he was a boy playing pond hockey and continuing until he made the NHL. The then Canadiens head coach banned his toques because they were not official uniform. Plante continued to knit throughout the rest of his life even though he was banned from wearing toques during games and practices.
Québec Citadelles team photo Plante in hand knit toque

Monday, December 8, 2014

Remembering Our History

The Hockey Hall of Fame induction combined with Jean Béliveau's death and Gordie Howe's illness got me thinking about remembering our collective history. Earlier this season, I saw a post on Reddit asking who Chris Chelios was. The poster went on to explain that said poster had read about Dean Chelios's signing with the ECHL's Indy Fuel, heard his dad was a former Blackhawk and wanted to know about him.

If self proclaimed diehard fans do not know about 20 years ago's captain, what other holes in their hockey knowledge are there?

I've gone to several autograph signings, at the Blackhawks Convention, at the Chicago Auto Show and at various other locations.

It is always the same story, players with retired numbers (Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito, Pierre Pilote and Denis Savard in my personal experience) draw huge crowds, as do any current players. However, other former players attract almost no one. I have met Jack O'Callahan, Murray Bannerman, Darren Pang, Troy Murray, Eddie Olczyk and Steve Konroyd, among others, with little to no line.

It appears that when new Hawks fans join the fandom, they learn the names of current players and the names of players with banners in the rafters. The 1970s-2000s seem to be the eras of Hawks history with the least fan knowledge.

Hopefully, hockey fans, especially fans of teams like the Hawks and the Kings with rapidly expanding fanbases, will take the time to educate new fans. Regarding the question posed on Reddit, fans were quick to educate the self-proclaimed diehard fan that Chris Chelios was a long serving Blackhawks captain and one of the greatest American-born defensemen.