CHICAGO – Before every Blackhawks home game, big crowds gather in front of the statues for Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull outside the United Center.
It’s a photo op, a meeting place and a great conversation starter all rolled into one. On one statue, Mikita wears a “C” on his sweater and stickhandles the puck up the ice. A few feet away, Hull follows through on one of his trademark left-handed blasts.
They’re terrific poses, and kudos to the Hawks for preserving them in bronze. Everyone who walks past on Madison Street immediately is reminded of the franchise’s rich tradition and two of its finest players.
All of this got me thinking.
Hawks modern-day superstars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are well on their way to becoming future Hall of Famers. And – this probably will sound strange – they’re well on their way to becoming future statues.
The next-generation statue unveiling will happen a long time from now, of course. Toews just turned 26 years old and Kane is 25, and there’s no telling how many more seasons and goals and Stanley Cup rings remain in their futures.
But it never is too soon to start thinking about the details of their forever poses. Fortunately, Toews’ and Kane’s teammates were happy to offer some suggestions.
Congratulations, Hawks forward Ben Smith. You’ve just been commissioned to design the future statue for Kane. What will it look like?
“What’s the pose for Kaner? Probably one of his fist pumps,” Smith said with a grin. “He scores a lot, but it seems like he really loves to score, so definitely some kind of celebration would be Kaner’s.”
Hawks forward Brandon Saad agreed with Smith’s idea.
“Probably some sort of celly,” said Saad, 21. “He’s got probably 50 of them because he scores all the time. I’m sure they’ll have something like that.”
Note to all readers past the age of 21: A “celly” is a celebration that follows a goal.
So that was settled.
Toews’ statue proved to be a tougher conversation.
How do you choose a single statuesque moment for the player who does everything? Toews scores goals, finds teammates, forechecks, wins faceoffs, and on and on.
“I have no idea what his would be,” Hawks forward Brandon Bollig said with a laugh. “I have no idea.
“A guy like that does literally everything you can think of for the team, so I’m not sure there’s one thing that you could put on a statue that would tell the story.”
Smith, who was quick to describe Kane’s fist pump, stalled on Toews. Regardless of Toews’ pose, Smith said, the statue would need a “Captain Serious” expression.
“Probably, it’d be him with kind of a tough looking, serious face on him,” Smith said. “It’s hard to pinpoint one thing because he’s so good at everything.”
It was a fun, light topic that Hawks players seemed to enjoy. On certain teams, superstars have been outsiders to their regular-guy teammates (see: Sosa, Sammy). But that’s not at all the case with the Hawks, who view Toews and Kane as equals in the locker room while simultaneously admiring their world-class skills.
“There’s no question about that,” Bollig said. “It’s great to get to play with these guys, especially in their prime. I’m sure as years go by, like you said, they’re going to end up in the Hall of Fame and I’m sure they’re going to be enshrined outside.”
In the meantime, it’s a blast to play with a couple of future statues.
“Any time you get a chance to be on a team with guys like that, you’re grateful,” Smith said. “You get to watch them play every day, you get to be amazed by them every day.
“But I’m sure at some point 20 years from now, when those statues are going up, I’ll look back and be grateful that I was able to play with those guys, learn from those guys, and have a chance to be a part of what they’ve done here – which is a lot already, but hopefully will be a lot more here in the next few years.”
• Shaw Media sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @tcmusick.