Spector: Role players key to Blackhawks’ success

June 13, 2013, 7:42 PM

CHICAGO – The irony about Andrew Shaw being mic’ed up Wednesday night in Game 1 was that he did not swear into the well-placed, shoulder pad microphone he had likely forgotten about during the heat of the moment.

Seconds after David Bolland’s deflection had caromed off of Shaw’s knee and into the Boston Bruin net in triple-overtime, Shaw could be heard screaming, “I love you Bollie!” and then later during a group hug, “I love shin pads!”

A few moments after that, however, with the house lights down and a giant spotlight shining on he and NBC analyst Pierre McGuire, Shaw broke out an F-bomb.

“F–kin’… It was unbelievable,” he said on national television. “All the guys, we deserved this,”

Complete unpredictability. Wind Andrew Shaw up, give him a chance, some direction, and let him go.

Then deal with the consequences as they come.

“He’s a handful in the dressing room, too,” veteran defenceman Brent Seabrook said. “Yeah, he’s a high-energy guy. He likes to have fun, get guys going, jumping around the room, bouncing around. Yeah, he’s pretty much the same as he is on the ice, just without skates on.”

If you ever wonder why teams like Chicago get good and stay good, look at the types of players who come up underneath the big stars to contribute the way Shaw did Wednesday night. Drafted and developed players – and in Shaw’s case, a player that each of the 30 organizations passed over in two previous drafts before the Blackhawks saw something nobody else did, taking the Belleville native 139th overall in the 2011 draft at age 19.

In fact, only two players selected in the 2011 NHL Draft beyond the 30th pick have played more than 15 career regular season games: Brandon Saad (2nd round, 43rd overall) and Andrew Shaw (5th round, 139th overall).

Hawks amateur scout Jim McKellar gets the credit here. He spotted Shaw playing for Owen Sound when McKellar was assistant GM of the London Knights.

“We happened to play the Owen Sound Attack in the playoffs when they went to the Memorial Cup, and he was just outstanding,” McKellar told us over the phone. “They beat us out in six games in the first round, and I couldn’t stop watching him, to be honest. He had come from a fourth line role, and just got better and better. He just kept making plays, and he ended up leading the Memorial Cup in scoring that year.

“He’s fearless. He’s got a big heart, and he’s just a reminder that kids get better and better from year to year. I give credit to Stan (GM Bowman) and (amateur scouting director) Mark Kelley for seeing something in a kid who was 19 and taking him in the fifth round.”

The 21-year-old rookie has evolved into that pest who can throw the body (nine hits in Game 1), get you off your game, yet still possesses the skill to do damage with the puck on his stick. Along with Bolland, the Hawks may just have enough of those qualities to counter Brad Marchand, likely the best combo of irritant and skill in the game today.

“They’re both a good mix of skill and competitive nature,” McKellar said. “You put those two things together and they often result in playoff success. And both were terrific (Wednesday) night.”

Shaw set Bolland up for the Blackhawks’ second goal, a dandy pass across the zone that arrived right on Bolland’s tape. Then the two combined to bludgeon Michal Rozsival’s wrist shot into the net in triple-OT – after 112:08 of hockey – a goal that Shaw could barely bring himself to explain post-game.

“Emotions are high but too exhausted right now to express it,” he said. “It’s an exciting moment. I think guys were just glad the game ended.”

The Blackhawks and the NHL declined to make Shaw available to the media on Thursday, despite requests from many media members. So instead we dug up Petr Klima, whose triple-overtime goal in Game 1 back in 1990 came only 3:07 later – a game that stands today as the longest in Cup final history. (Game 1 of Chicago-Boston is the fifth longest).

Klima said that, as good as Shaw feels about himself right now, he likely feels better about having staked his Blackhawks to a 1-0 series lead.

“I learned that from the best. Mess (Mark Messier). Kevin Lowe. (Steve) Yzerman. Bob Probert,” Lima said from his Michigan home.

“It wasn’t just me. It was about the team. Everybody needs everybody,” he said. “I scored 30 goals that year … and when they needed me, I went on the ice and I scored. That was my job, but it wasn’t my goal at all. It was the first game for my team.”

As for Shaw, “I don’t think it will change his career,” Klima said. “But he did the right thing for the team, and that’s why he is there.”

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