The following is excerpted from the March/April 2017 issue of Blackhawks Magazine, featuring local product Ryan Hartman. Pick up a copy at the next Blackhawks home game, or by calling the Blackhawks Store at 312-759-0079.
How important is it for a young guy like you to be on a team with so many other young guys? The other day at practice, you were sitting between Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz.
Right. That's another great thing about being part of this team. Most of the veterans, they have families and other lives. But us single guys, we like to hang out and do things. Vinnie (Hinostroza) and Schmaltzy, we do stuff together. Lunch, dinner, whatever. We're really close. Schmaltzy is walking my dog right now while we're doing this interview.
Riley, a white German shepherd. Got it when I was in Rockford. My girlfriend and I were at the mall one day, just looking around. I always had a dog at home when I was a kid. Anyway, we just wandered into this store and saw this cute little pup. The lady there lifts it up and lets me hold it. "Go play with it in the back if you want." And that's it. It's part of the plan. They know it's all over when you hold it. You're taking that dog home with you. I called my mom, Kim, and told her I bought a dog. She says, "We have a family dog at home, take it for a week if you want a dog." I didn't want to call my dad, Craig. No way.
He's going to say, "You're trying to concentrate so you can make it to the National Hockey League, and you bought a dog?"
Exactly. About a week after I bought Riley, we're going on the road with Rockford. So now I had to call my dad and break the news. I bought a dog, Dad. I asked him if he would look after my dog. He said, "You did what? No you didn't." So I dropped the dog off with my parents, and they fell in love with Riley too.
Dogs are amazing.
They really are. Think it about. You are their entire life. You provide a dog shelter, food, water, attention. And in return, they give you unconditional love and loyalty and protection. If I take a shower, Riley will spread out and lie down right by the bathroom door to make sure I'm OK. An unbelievable watchdog. A real friend. No judgment, no grudges.