Andrew Shaw has become a big part of what the Hawks are trying to do
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com April 11, 2012 9:06PM
Buffalo Sabres v Chicago Blackhawks
Updated: May 13, 2012 10:28AM
Andrew Shaw’s knack for chirping and yapping is as much a part of him as the scars on his chiseled 20-year-old face.
Just ask his father, Doug, about one hot day of water-tubing at the family cabin on Roblin Lake, which is a short drive south from their hometown of Belleville, Ontario.
‘‘We were all out there tubing for two or three hours, and we were getting tired,’’ Doug said. ‘‘He kept wanting to go again, and he had already been, while a couple of kids hadn’t been. I said to him, ‘No, you’re not going.’ He told me to ‘[bleep] off.’
‘‘When he said that, I jumped into the [shallow] water [after him], and he started running. The neighbors were screaming to him, ‘Andrew, run! Run like hell!’ But I caught him. I took him into the cottage, and the rest was history.’’
Shaw was 11 at the time and, of course, remembers it a bit differently.
But when you add it to the stories his three siblings share about their ‘‘battles’’ growing up or hear about some of the scraps he got into at school, it’s easy to see that all the edginess and agitation that Blackhawks fans have come to love in Shaw always have been part of his makeup.
‘‘He’s fiery,’’ said Darlene, his mother.
But like the Hawks and opponents are learning, there is more to Shaw. The rookie forward might have found his way to the NHL with his mouth, fists and grit, but he has shown he’s capable of bigger things. He hasn’t really been overlooked — it’s hard to miss a 5-10, 180-pound scrapper who fights guys much bigger than he is — but he always has been underestimated.
And it’s the Hawks who are benefitting from it.
An edgy one
Shaw’s mother and father tried for years to rein their third child in. Doug said he didn’t want his son to play like he did in juniors.
‘‘I yelled at him for all the stuff they wanted him to do and I’d try to get him not to do because when you’re playing minor hockey, you’re always in the penalty box for all the stuff he does,’’ Doug said. ‘‘[But] he was always yappy, just like his father.’’
They just couldn’t change something that was an integral part of him.
Shaw was ‘‘very difficult some days’’ to babysit, said his sister, Alex, who is four years older. His younger brother, Jason, fondly recalls the time his brother punched a trash-talker at the batting cages and had to sit with one of the acclaimed Hanson brothers for it. His older brother, Josh, laughs about their scrap during a ball-hockey game after Josh went after Shaw’s teammate, future NHL No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall.
‘‘Him and I were on the floor wrestling each another,’’ said Josh, who is two years older. ‘‘He was protecting Taylor Hall. . . . [And] he was always the one instigating our fights at home.’’
Shaw once hid a broken hand when was 11 so he could play hockey.
‘‘Before [the doctor] put the cast on — and he didn’t even touch Andrew — Andrew started crying,’’ Doug said. ‘‘The doctor said, ‘I haven’t even touched you yet. Why are you crying?’ He says, ‘Because I can’t play hockey anymore.’ ’’
That kind of toughness caught the eyes of scouts and fans, but it also overshadowed his skills.
Shaw was named the International Street and Ball Hockey player of the year in 2010, but his skills were apparent at a young age. What happened after the doctor fit him with a playing cast nine years ago?
‘‘In the next game [in the All-Ontario finals], he scores five goals,’’ Doug said. ‘‘Every one was a deke because he couldn’t shoot. He can live with pain for a while.’’
An unexpected boost
Shaw’s story of being passed up in consecutive drafts before the Hawks took him in the fifth round in 2011 is well-documented. Some teams just considered him an undersized pest, but the Hawks saw more.
‘‘We were fortunate that no one else took him,’’ said general manager Stan Bowman, who tried to hide his interest. ‘‘He came in without a lot of fanfare and without a lot of expectations, and he just proved that he could play.’’
Shaw stood out at every rookie showcase, then became the Rockford IceHogs’ leading scorer and was rewarded with an NHL contract. Even then, it took Daniel Carcillo’s season-ending surgery for him to get a real chance.
All Shaw did after that was score 12 goals and 23 points in 37 games and become a Twitter sensation via #ShawFacts. He has impressed coach Joel Quenneville with his smarts and willingness to crash opposing nets and has averaged more than 15 minutes during the regular season, including power-play time.
‘‘I know he got passed over twice in two drafts and got picked in the fifth round last year,’’ forward Patrick Kane said. ‘‘It’s amazing how things like that happen.
‘‘One thing that’s underappreciated about him is his skill and hands. That’s probably not the first thing you think of, but he’s got some nice, silky hands and can make different passes. He’s got some hockey sense.’’
One of Darlene’s favorite stories about her son is when he and four teammates from Owen Sound, Ontario, decided to attend mass with her last Easter and were cheered on.
But there also is the one where Shaw and brother Jason, who is 13 months younger, have looked after a mentally disabled neighbor, whether it’s at school or simply walking by and lending his mother a hand.
‘‘He likes everything to be like a family,’’ Darlene said. ‘‘He’s just always wanted the world to be a perfect place, even though he knows it isn’t.’’
‘‘He’s got a big heart,’’ Alex said.
Those close to him say it’s that heart, along with his colorful personality, that helped him remain determined after getting passed over at drafts.
It’s what helped him overcome the initial disappointment of being sent down after his first 19 games with the Hawks.
And it’s what makes him a fearless fighter, despite his lack of size, and a valuable third-line winger for the Hawks.
‘‘It’s indicative of the kind of person he is,’’ veteran Jamal Mayers said. ‘‘The history of hockey has tons of examples of guys smaller in stature but with huge hearts. He’s one of those guys.’’
Bowman and others in the organization think Shaw has the type of character and personality that defined the Hawks’ Stanley Cup-winning team of two seasons ago.
‘‘He’s kind of the same way off the ice as he is on the ice,’’ Kane said. ‘‘He’s kind of reckless and very energetic and enthusiastic about life. He’s fun to be around.
‘‘He’s probably my size, maybe even a little skinnier, and he’s doing that stuff [on the ice]. It makes you laugh and realize what a nut this guy is.’’
And how valuable, too.