Blackhawks take different approaches to Twitter

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Blackhawks take different approaches to Twitter

Sami Lepisto was just trying to help Viktor Stalberg out a little bit.

The Blackhawks defenseman had dinner at Stalbergs home one night this fall and let Twitter followers know about Stalbergs stellar domestic abilities. And, Lepisto added in his tweet, Ladies he is single!!

From time to time you have to do something like that, Lepisto said with a smile.

Stalberg did get a laugh and an immediate spike in his followers.

I dont think it boosted (my personal life) but I did get a lot of hits that day, thats for sure, he said. A lot of guys are against (Twitter) but its a fun way to keep in touch with fans; especially for guy like me whos not in the center of the media stitch every day like (Jonathan) Toews and others. Obviously we cant say everything on there, but its a fun way to keep in touch.

Welcome to the world of Twitter, which up until this season featured very few Blackhawks. But between veterans and newly acquired players, more Chicago players have entered the social-media world. Their reasons for joining or quitting are as different as their individual personalities:

timingiseverything

Patrick Sharp joined Twitter in March, just as the Blackhawks got to Washington D.C. to play the Capitals and visit the White House. As expected, the right wing got a lot of followers in no time.

Sharps first tweet came when the Blackhawks visited the Walter Reed Army Medical Center on that D.C. visit. It would be his only tweet. In hindsight, Sharp said his timing may not have been the best.

I didnt think in March, near the playoffs, was a good time to do that, Sharp said. It exploded there one night in Washington. I was getting a lot of messages and felt I had a lot of responsibility and I wasnt ready for that.

Sharp said there is an invasive side to it, too.

Probably the issue I had is Im all for fan interaction and I love talking to and meeting different fans. But I dont like the idea of having a bad game and hearing about it from 15,000 different people, said Sharp, who added that he may try Twitter again in the future. But there are two sides to every coin. Those negatives are outweighed by maybe having some fun with it.

feelingthelove

Patrick Kane is the latest of the Blackhawks to join. His account was confirmed after the Blackhawks final preseason home game on Sept. 29. When Kane went to sleep that night, he said he had about 4,000 followers. By the next morning, he had nearly 20,000.

Pretty crazy, Kane said. The numbers are almost kind of scary and make you cringe a little bit.

Kane, who now has more than 60,000 followers, doesnt tweet often; the last entry on his account was Nov. 19, his birthday. But he nevertheless appreciates the fan response.

Its pretty cool way to interact with the fans, he said. I could probably get better at it. Sometimes Im thinking about so many other things I dont pay attention to it. But it can be used for pretty good reasons.

wannabet?

When defenseman Steve Montador joined Twitter a few months ago he wasnt keeping close check on how many folks started to follow him. But his sister did. So she bet him he couldnt get so many followers in a set amount of time. When Montador reached the first number she bet, she upped the numbers.

She said, Well, get 10,000 by the end of the week. I actually got there now so I should chirp her, Montador said. I didnt impress her enough in the week.

For Montador, Twitter is more of a promotional tool for team or personal causes. He wont get too personal.

Im a little more private than Twitter typically allows for, so for the most part its something Ill keep on the professional side, he said. But I do appreciate the following and the people who respond. Its fun to follow friends and people in the business and what not. Its unique that you can connect that way.
friendsinhighplaces

Its always easier to join a group when you know one of the top guys in it. Thats how it was for Jamal Mayers, who has a friend in the executive ranks of Twitter. He told Mayers how it all worked, got the Blackhawks forward verified in a matter of days and explained how Twitter was a safe social-media option.

Its not like any of those other things where people can directly contact you necessarily. That safety helps, said Mayers. Obviously you have to be aware of what youre writing. Its definitely far-reaching; it has an effect on you, the organization and your family. So you have to be aware of what youre writing.

proceedwithcaution

When youre an outspoken individual, Twitter can be dangerous territory. Daniel Carcillo is certainly one of those guys, and hes very careful to walk that line between having fun and tweeting TMI.

When I first got it, it was a little overwhelming. Im pretty outspoken, and on that you have to think three or four times before you write it, Carcillo said. So it wasnt a good fit in the beginning and so you live and learn.

Carcillos done that. Hes used Twitter for fun making fun of Kanes mustache, or lack thereof, during Movember and for his interests such as his friends T-shirt company, jaktapparel.com, and his new radio show on WGN.

Its kind of just building your own name and getting it out there, outside of hockey if you have other interests, he said. You can see the advantages to it.

Scott Darling takes the reins for Blackhawks in Corey Crawford’s absence

Scott Darling takes the reins for Blackhawks in Corey Crawford’s absence

It’s an interesting working life, really, this backup goaltending gig.

Most of the time, you’re in hurry-up-and-wait mode. But now and then something bizarre happens – like the starting goaltender needing an appendectomy on the road – that thrusts you into the No. 1 spot for a time.

Scott Darling has been here, done this before, though, and he did it well. And considering how goaltending has been the backbone of this team’s performance this season, the Blackhawks are confident he can handle the job.

Darling gave the Blackhawks a chance again on Sunday night, his 30-stop performance keeping them within one goal in what was ultimately a 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Darling started his second consecutive game – Crawford was diagnosed with appendicitis prior to the team’s game in Philadelphia, where he had his operation. An interesting turn of events, for sure, but Darling will do what’s necessary in Crawford’s absence.

“Obviously you don’t want it to happen this way. But there’s not too many other ways it can happen so it’s an exciting opportunity for me,” Darling said following Sunday’s game. “I mean I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know how long Corey will be gone or what the game plan is. But I’m excited to get a few more starts than usual.”

Darling had a whole three games of NHL experience in December of 2014 when he subbed for Crawford, out with a lower-body injury at that time. That worked out just fine – he won three of his first four starts and came up even bigger in the Blackhawks’ first-round series against the Nashville Predators that postseason.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Coach Joel Quenneville said Darling has handled the extremes well.

“I think that’s what it’s all about in that role: you’re ready to play once every four or five games and then all of a sudden you’re playing every night and it’s a different job description, workload, pressure. But the expectations when you do get it can be different,” Quenneville said. “Some guys handle it the same way, going every fourth or fifth game and don’t change a beat. I think Darls did exactly that. He had a good demeanor, had a good approach, was patient as he always was. I think that helped a lot. He played some critical games for us in the playoffs, handled it the same way and that’s how you’re hoping they handle it.”

Darling is expected to get most, if not all, of the workload while Crawford’s out. Lars Johansson was recalled on Sunday and will serve as backup, but he has no NHL experience – then again, Darling didn’t have much a few years ago, either.

But Darling isn’t taking anything for granted during this stretch.

“I’ve gotta win some games to have the right to get those minutes,” he said.

Maybe, but the Blackhawks also have to give him some help. The goaltending hasn’t gotten a ton of that from the Blackhawks, who have sputtered offensively most of the season. No matter who’s in net, the Blackhawks need to start producing more.

For now, Darling is the man. He’s rolled with the backup-gig demands before and should be fine again. And if the Blackhawks can help him out some, they shouldn’t miss much of a beat without Crawford.

“He’s played great. I thought he played great again [Sunday],” Duncan Keith said. “He gave us a chance, and you know, more than a chance to win. He stopped breakaways and made big plays all night. We’re lucky to have him as a goalie we can look to when we’ve got a guy like Crow out.”

Five Things from Blackhawks-Jets: Offense still anemic

Five Things from Blackhawks-Jets: Offense still anemic

The Blackhawks may want to forget this weekend.

Their captain is struggling health-wise and the rest of the team is struggling in other aspects. That led to a point-less pair of games, something the Blackhawks haven’t dealt with often this season. Even a return home on Sunday, where the Blackhawks had collected points in 12 consecutive games, couldn’t help them.

Still, the show must go on. So before we trudge home in the slush, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

1. Jonathan Toews isn’t improving. The captain isn’t getting any worse but his injury isn’t getting better. That’s what coach Joel Quenneville said prior to the game, the sixth in a row Toews has missed with a reported back injury. Toews skated on Sunday morning but will not shut it down for a few days. That’s discouraging news, especially for Toews. You could hear the frustration in Toews’ voice when he talked following Friday’s practice. It’s likely growing.

2. Scott Darling did all he could. We could have “goaltending buoys the Blackhawks” on a save/get key this season. It was true again on Sunday as Darling was stellar in stopping 30 of 32 shots. The Blackhawks have gone through their troubles this season but goaltending hasn’t been one of them. Darling will take the bulk of the work while Corey Crawford is sidelined. If he plays the way he did on Sunday night, the Blackhawks won’t have to worry about that part of their game.

3. Little generated again. Both teams played on Saturday but the Blackhawks were the ones really looking lackluster on Sunday night. The Blackhawks once again didn’t have many great scoring opportunities; through two periods, you could count their quality shots on one hand. They woke up some in the third period but not enough.

4. Second line drawing all the attention? OK, again, right now Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane are the Blackhawks’ top line. And with that, the trio has become the prime target of attention for the opposition. Other lines have had opportunities but these are not the balanced Blackhawks teams of previous seasons. That second line is what did the bulk of the damage last season, and teams are focusing on it –  and being more successful against it – this season.

5. Power plays a problem again. The Blackhawks’ first power play was as forgettable as they come. It was so unproductive, spent so little time in the Jets’ zone that fans started to audibly groan. And when the Blackhawks got a four-minute power play late in regulation they couldn’t get the game-tying goal. Again, this isn’t the first season the power play has struggled. But when the offense overall dries up, the issues here are that much more glaring.