SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Andrew Shaw can’t help but smile when he sees someone wearing a sweater with his last name and/or number on it.
“It’s pretty funny. Not long ago, nobody knew who I was. Now little kids buy my jersey,” Shaw said. “It’s unbelievable. I was that kid buying those jerseys when I was just a little guy, saying, ‘I want to be just like him.’”
Now Shaw is on the other side of that, the guy who, despite being passed up in two drafts, dreamed big and accomplished big. Shaw’s 2013 season with the Blackhawks was capped by triumph, as he hoisted his first Stanley Cup. But there were some tough times off the ice, and he drew inspiration from his mother and her battle with breast cancer.
Shaw has developed an almost cult-like status among Blackhawks fans. From the #shawfacts Twitter rage his rookie season to his chuckle-worthy “I love shin pads!” quote at the end of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against Boston to his colorful celebratory language, Shaw has become a fan favorite. While even the casual hockey fan can appreciate his entertainment value, the rest appreciate his game that much more. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Shaw doesn’t fight or antagonize according to size. Big, small, whatever: If he can get under your skin, he’ll do it.
And he can put up points here and there, too.
“The intangible of intensity he brings, there are a lot of things he can do as far as make plays and play recognition,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I don’t want to quantify the numbers, but he’s that guy you want to think about putting in front of the net on the power play. He’s scrappy in those tight areas. I just think he brings a lot to his game, whether you measure by numbers or the intangible ingredient he brings with tenacity, consistency and competitiveness.”
As for that grit, it’s earned him some lumps and some stitches. The last time he was sewn up was Game 6, when he took 16 or 17 stitches after taking a puck to his face. The right side of his face was still noticeably swollen several days after the Cup victory. And those stitches were still part of his face when he got a surprise call from The V Foundation, which wanted them.
“They asked me not to throw them out when I got them taken out,” Shaw recalled. “They had an idea.”
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The foundation’s idea was an honorable one: auction off the stitches for a good cause of Shaw’s choosing. Shaw selected research for breast cancer, which his mother, Darlene, was diagnosed with last fall. The stitches fetched $6,500, and The V Foundation tripled the amount.
“It’s nice to give back,” Shaw said. “It made my family happy, and it was all for a good cause.”
The good news is, Shaw’s mother is feeling better — “she’s healthy, she’s working,” he said. And her fight served as inspiration to her son.
“It was tough, it was hard on her,” Shaw said. “We tried to go home as much as we could to see her, but she wanted us to focus on what we were doing. She was able to travel (in the spring); she came down every weekend for the last month of the playoffs, lived in Chicago with me. It was great for her to experience it and be there for me.”
Winning a Cup so early in his career was gratifying. Shaw took extra stock in it when he watched Michal Handzus, Michal Rozsival and Jamal Mayers, guys who’d played so many years before finally getting to lift the Cup themselves. It took Shaw a few seasons to get his NHL opportunity. He’s done some good things so far. Now he’s looking to do more.
“It’s moving forward; just trying to win another one,” he said. "I contributed a little bit. I see what it takes to win now. We have a great organization, great coaching pushing you to your limits and showing you it isn’t easy. You can go through your whole career and not win it. To have a dream come true at such a young age, it shows hard work pays off. Now it’s about putting that in the past and working to get it again.”