Training Camp Festival features the Blackhawks’ young players at work
CHICAGO – The proof of loyalty among the hockey fans could be seen on Saturday afternoon.
There is no Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews or even Corey Crawford. Hossa and “The Breadman” weren’t there either. The World Cup of Hockey has those players out of the first few days of Blackhawks training camp.
Still a sold-out crowd packed the United Center to see a majority even if not all of the team on Saturday afternoon for the annual Training Camp Festival. The event not only included a number of family activities outside but inside was a full intersquad scrimmage.
“I don’t know what time they’ve been out here since, but I know it’s pretty early,” said forward Ryan Hartman of Saturday’s crowd. “It amazes me every time the outcome and how many dedicated fans there are here.”
What they got to see on Saturday could turn out to be one of the themes of the season: Youth.
With a number of the starters taking part in the World Cup of Hockey the collection of young players was substantial on the ice Saturday afternoon with a number filling some key positions.
Vincent Hinostroza got the fans excited with a pair of goals in the 3-on-3 overtime session on Saturday and he will be one of the younger players to watch this season. Hartman, who complimented the fans, will be another as the team reloads with younger players after the typical losses of players due to the salary cap.
"They're not just filling in lines," said veteran defenseman Brian Campbell. "We're gonna need them to produce too."
Hartman could be one of those guys as he tries to find a full-time spot on the Blackhawks roster. The 22-year old forward has played eight career games on the NHL level with most of his time over the last three seasons spent in Rockford, scoring 15 goals and dishing out 20 assists in 2015-2016.
"You don't want to look back on it and say you didn't give it everything you had," said Hartman of this training camp. "You want to go out there every day, every practice, every workout and give 100 percent and try to earn your spot."
Campbell is one of the few newcomers that is a veteran in the NHL as the defenseman returns to Chicago after spending the last five seasons with the Florida Panthers. As he skated around Saturday he realized the importance being there to help the younger players make a quicker transition to more full-time NHL work.
"We've got to keep pushing these kids to get better and keep teaching them the tools and helping them along the way," said veteran defenseman Brian Campbell. "It's a good crop and it's their time. It's a great opportunity that there are jobs available coming into camp.
"We've just got to keep supporting these kids."
That's because there will be a lot more of them when the puck drops for real on October 12th.