CHICAGO – Brent Seabrook had no place to hide.
Moments earlier during Tuesday’s practice, Seabrook had leaned forward to receive a pass along the blue line from Blackhawks teammate Duncan Keith. But Seabrook lost his footing as the puck hit his stick, and he tipped and fell like a drunken sailor.
All of Seabrook’s teammates found this to be hilarious, but especially Andrew Shaw. His grin was bigger than Lake Michigan. He slapped his stick against the ice repeatedly, which is the way hockey players clap when they are excited.
Shaw chuckled afterward as he caught his breath in front of his locker. He already had put his stick away, or else he might have slapped it against the carpeted floor.
“Getting on one of your teammates if they fall like that,” Shaw said, “it puts a smile on everyone’s face – even the guy that did fall.”
It was true. Once Seabrook had climbed to his skates and dusted off the assortment of ice chips and embarrassment, he could not help but grin and shake his head.
Make no mistake, the postseason is serious business for Shaw and his teammates. The Hawks have won two Stanley Cup championships in the past four seasons, and they will try to make it three out of five starting with a first-round series against the division rival St. Louis Blues.
But it’s possible to be intense and goofy at the same time.
For proof, watch Shaw.
Watch how Shaw deflects a shot past goaltender Corey Crawford and lifts one leg and pumps both arms in mock celebration. Watch how he pings a shot off of the lower crossbar and into the net and wheels around, beckoning his teammates to cheer. Watch how he whoops across the ice after Marian Hossa scores a goal.
Watch how he talks about the playoffs, by far his favorite time of year.
“As long as the intensity is there and the work ethic is there and everyone is focused in, I think you should have as much fun as you can,” Shaw said. “It makes you love the game even more when you’re out there having a good time.”
It has been written in this space before that Shaw, 22, might be the only hockey player in the universe who doesn’t take naps before night games. His enthusiasm is genuine and infectious, and his teammates appreciate his nonstop energy on the ice.
On Tuesday, Shaw centered a line with Bryan Bickell on his left wing and Patrick Kane on his right wing. He happily yapped at both players in between shifts.
“He’s excited,” Kane said. “I think we’re all excited to start playing again, especially in the playoffs. He’s a kid that’s going to be working hard. He’s going to be the hardest worker on the ice every night, whether it’s regular season or playoffs. That’s one of the special things about him.”
When Shaw wasn’t busy sprinting down the ice on three-man rushes, he was parked in front of the net as part of the Hawks’ practice power-play unit. He battled hard against teammate Jeremy Morin, who was serving as one of the penalty killers.
After a failed deflection, Shaw gave Morin a playful shove to show his frustration. Morin grinned and Shaw grinned back, both regrouping for another competition.
“He’s always full of energy,” Morin said. “It’s actually kind of amazing. He never runs out of steam.”
Never. As in, never ever.
For the past couple of weeks, Morin has had Shaw as his roommate on the road, which is sort of like having a 180-pound puppy as a roommate on the road.
“He’s full of energy all of the time, and I’m not really a morning guy,” Morin said. “I’ve learned to just kind of ignore him a little bit when he gets too excited, and he kind of calms down a bit.”
Care to guess who won’t be able to ignore Shaw?
The St. Louis Blues.
Bring on the playoffs.
• Shaw Media sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.