The city of Chicago has always been and is currently a mecca for sports icons; the NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose, new Cubs General Manager Theo Epstein, and Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews are just a few. None are more popular, right now, than 'Hawks rookie winger Andrew Shaw. Thanks to his gritty play, loads of hustle and determination to prove that he belongs in the NHL, he's quickly becoming a huge fan favorite.
If I had said the name "Andrew Shaw" prior to June 25, 2011, it's likely that only hockey enthusiasts following juniors in Canada would have a clue as to whom I was referring. Let's go back, a few short months, and track the phenomenon that has Blackhawks fans all a-twitter.
June 25, 2011 - With the 18th selection of the fifth round of the NHL Entry Draft, the Chicago Blackhawks select 19-year old Andrew Shaw (139th overall.)
September 17 - Shaw appears in front of Blackhawks fans for the first time at the Training Camp Festival event, held at the United Center.
October 8 - Opens his professional hockey career at Blackhawks' AHL affiliate Rockford and scratches the score sheet with 2 shots on goal and 5-minutes in the penalty box for a fighting major.
October 28 - Nets his first goal as a professional, for Rockford, in 6-4 victory over Peoria.
December 9 - Records first career game-winning goal against Chicago Wolves.
January 3, 2012 - The Chicago Blackhawks agree to terms with Andrew Shaw on a three-year contract.
January 4 - Shaw is recalled from Rockford and added to active roster.
January 5 - Makes NHL debut at Philadelphia. Firsts: 5-minute major fighting penalty (first shift); goal (first shot).
January 15 - Netted the game-winner (first career) against San Jose.
January 18 - Scores a goal in 4th consecutive game and 5th in 8 career games. First assist, too.
And then it began.
The social networking site, Twitter, started buzzing with comments and tweets about Shaw including his #ShawFacts. They are humorous, fun comments which basically make him out to be this superhuman, super amazing figure in all aspects of life.
Andrew Shaw is still a raw talent and just 20 years old. There's still plenty of room for improvement, from a hockey standpoint, and he will ultimately run into some rough stretches during the infancy of his NHL career. Regardless, it's refreshing to see such a young player have great impact on the city that adores his hockey team. I'm not ready to construct his bronze statue outside the United Center or hang his #65 in the rafters, but he's certainly finding his niche on a team that is poised to make another deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, and in the hearts of Blackhawks fans across the country.
Who's to say that he will continue to play at the torrid pace with which he's begun his career? Even if he slows down a little, it will be a fun and exhilarating ride to the playoffs. If he does keep it up, don't be surprised to see him considered for the Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) come season's end. It's a shame that 2011 #1 overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton) has almost half a season head start.
Regardless, Andrew Shaw will be trending for many days to come. #ShawFacts