Sept. 26, 200811:05 a.m.
After spending the morning running errands (oil change and mowing the lawn), I arrived in the office and was welcomed by over 20 e-mails. One of the first things you do on a travel day is make sure the plane arrived at MSP (it landed at 6 a.m.) and contact the bus company at our arrival city to make sure we have a name and number for the bus driver. Because we are playing in Buffalo Sunday, I made contact with the bus company in Buffalo, so we are also well prepared for the weekend.
Patrick Armstrong, the PR/travel man for the Houston Aeros, joined me on the drive to the airport. Patrick got to town late last night and will spend a few days in St. Paul to help out the Aeros coaches and get things ready for their training camp, which is scheduled to start Oct. 1 on the ice.2:00 p.m.
We arrived at Signature (our charter terminal at MSP) a little tardy for a 2:30 departure and were welcomed by Jacques Lemaire and the rest of the coaching staff waiting for me to hand over the manifest to the screeners. Funny thing is I figured that, after we sent probably 10 e-mails with add/drops to our manifest, they would have had something. Oh well. Our list of 69 people was soon scratched down to 39. Hard to figure out who is going to play in these preseason games, so we sent our entire roster to our flight company. It's a lot easier to cross a name off than it is to try and add a name at the last second. Amber helped get things finalized with the manifest and we were off right on time.
We landed at Midway at 3:30 and James, our trusty bus driver, was waiting for us. Traffic wasn't as bad as expected, and we pulled into the United Center at 4:30.
Once inside the arena, we were greeted by Adam Rogowin of the Blackhawks PR staff (and a good friend of Ryan Stanzel’s from their AHL days) to pick up our credentials, meal tickets and a couple of wireless codes so I could get some work done before the game.
Just ran into Keith Carney, who is playing tonight for Chicago. You will never meet a nicer guy than Keith -- a first-class individual.
Helped Judd Sirott (Blackhawks studio host) talk to Jacques and Derek Boogaard, then helped Martin Leclerc talk to Jacques, Eric Belanger, Stephane Veilleux
for the Journal de Montréal. Time to eat dinner and it looks like grilled cheese and salad tonight at the United Center. To quote Tom Thompson, “The meal got progressively better, salad looked good but didn’t taste good, grilled cheese was OK and the ice cream was the best, especially with the chocolate sauce."
Now Jason Shaver stops by the United Center press work room to say hi to Pat and the rest of the Aeros on the trip, including coach Kevin Constantine and equipment manager Mark Kincher. I can’t believe Stanzel didn’t make this trip.
Now I am being harassed by Brent Proulx about the Brewers and the inappropriate manner in which they celebrate a win by untucking their jerseys. I don’t really care; I just want my Brewers to make the playoffs. Twenty-six years is a long time between playoff games. Time for dinner.6:25 p.m
A note on tonight's lineup: Owen Nolan did not make the trip, and University of Minnesota product Danny Irmen will start in his place.7:50 p.m.
So far so good, now that I am situated in the press box and sitting next to Mike Russo. Mike is watching the Twins game and I am watching the Brewers game online as we wait for faceoff. I don't think 7:37 is a good idea; way too much time to kill upon arrival. Kim Johnsson is sporting the 'C,' while Eric Belanger and Mikko Koivu
are wearing the 'A's.
Veilleux scores 36 seconds into the game from Belanger and Danny Irmen. Good start for the boys. Then Marc-Andre Bergeron takes on Kyle Beach after Beach took a run at Bergeron along the boards. Not much to report on the fight. Referees are giving their whistles a workout again tonight as players continue to be sent to the penalty box.
James Sheppard bangs home a rebound from the slot of a shot by Colton Gillies to give the good guys a 2-0 lead. Bergeron picks up an assist as well. We like this start. Maybe we can travel the day of the game the rest of the season?
Make that 3-0 as Petr Kalus takes a pretty behind-the-back pass from Marek Zidlicky at the blue line and cuts through the defense, then scores despite losing control of the puck. Koivu also registers an assist as the Wild collects its second power play goal with Brent Sopel sitting in the penalty box. I am off to pay for postgame pizza for the players.Second period
Pizza is expensive here in Chicago, by the way -- $146 for six large pies (that doesn’t include tip finance). WOW. Andrew Ladd scores 1:25 into the second period, and not much else has happened. Now we have a hockey game again as Josh Harding
can’t find a shot from the point from Sopel and Patrick Sharp taps it in to cut the Wild lead to 3-2 with 4:24 left in the second.
The Blackhawks had a couple power play chances, but couldn’t score in the period. Can’t wait for the third period to start. We hear Chicago is one of the locations Barack Obama could visit following tonight’s debate. If that is the case, I hope he doesn’t land at Midway, as that could really slow our departure. Equipment guys said they would get packed up as soon as possible after the game to help our chances of getting out on time.
When we landed this afternoon, four police cars/trucks, when cruising past our plane, were apparently practicing how they were going to pick up Obama if he came tonight. Here’s to no more penalties or no more Chicago goals.Third period
No penalties so far but a pair of goals by Chicago has given the home team a 4-3 lead. Not good news for the good guys. The Blackhawks have scored four unanswered goals to come all the way back from a 3-0 deficit to take the lead. Time to head downstairs and prepare for postgame duties, including talking to Amber to make sure they are ready for our arrival -- so we can get up in the air as soon as possible.