Chris Calnan was cheering for the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final, no matter what. The Blackhawks’ 79th overall choice in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft knew, however, it wasn’t going to win him many fans with his group.
“I lost some friends who are (Boston) Bruins fans, so it was tough, but I’m really happy they won,” said Calnan, a Boston native himself. “It was really inspirational. That’s every kid’s dream to win a Stanley Cup. It was really cool.”
So not a Bruins fan, eh?
“I was,” he said to laughs. “Now I’m definitely a ‘Hawks fan. A lot of people are bummed about it.”
It’s an understandable switch for Calnan, considering who drafted him. And now that he’s done watching that Cup run, Calnan is back in Chicago for Blackhawks prospect camp, which began today at Johnny’s IceHouse West. It’s the second ‘Hawks camp for Calnan, who was counting the days until it began.
“I've been looking forward to this all summer,” he said. “It's always a good camp. I'm actually stepping up my level next year, playing college hockey at Boston College. Obviously I'm looking forward to that, and this is a big first step to that. Training went well. It was a little harder this year, the V02 test, but I'm expecting everything else like last year. I’m really excited.”
Calnan is coming off a strong season with the South Shore Kings (Eastern Junior Hockey League), recording 27 goals and 22 assists in 32 games. It wasn’t an easy schedule. Calnan was balancing his hockey slate with the Foxboro, Mass.-based Kings and his final year at Noble and Greenough School in nearby Dedham, Mass. Tough, but Calnan said it was all worth it.
“It was kind of a grind,” he said. “I took school really seriously, so I'd get out about 2:50, 3 (p.m.), rush down to practice every day at 3:30. It was a long season, but we ended up losing the quarterfinals. We had a pretty good team. I thought my skills developed a lot and I got more freedom as a player to really improve my skills.”
Calnan already has his immediate future mapped out: go through this prospect camp, then head to Boston College to play there. No matter what step he’s taken in hockey, however, Calnan has had great guidance. His uncle is former NHL (and Blackhawks) great Jeremy Roenick, and Calnan heeds whatever advice he gets from him.
“He gives me all the tips, tells me to listen to certain guys and pay attention to certain things,” Calnan said. “He'll give me a call when times are big, either before this camp, before the season starts, at pivotal moments in my career and really tells me what to do and how to really get to the next level in each step. He's been awesome. He's been my idol, he's given me all the help I need and I really appreciate that from him.”
Who knows if Calnan follows in his uncle’s footsteps some day. For now, Calnan will focus on his next step: getting the most he can out of his latest Blackhawks camp, and putting it to work in his future hockey endeavors.
“Most of the guys really compete. Kids are really getting after it, watching everybody, seeing how they did, I saw kids looking at my sheets and trying to compete with how my scores went,” Calnan said. “Everybody takes it really seriously. It's always a good week and everybody looks to get really better.”