Catching up with Jeremy Roenick
by Scott King
One of the best Blackhawks forwards to play the game, Jeremy Roenick, now calls it exactly as he sees it as a hockey analyst for NBC Sports. WGN Radio recently caught up with Jeremy to get his take on the current state of the Blackhawks, awaiting Hall of Fame honors, and more.
What was it exactly about the 2010 Stanley Cup Final that caused you to get emotional on the air after Game 6?
I think it’s hard to describe emotions. I think emotions are things that people appreciate. You see it in people’s faces, you see it in people’s body language, you hear it in their voice.
When you commit your life to something and you commit yourself to a goal and that’s all you think about as a professional; when you don’t achieve that goal, there’s a huge void that is in your life, that you live with every day. I think as an athlete, you get attached to certain teams and certain cities because whether you stayed there the longest; or they drafted you, or you had your hay day there, whatever the reason may be.
But, you get attached to a jersey, you get attached to a city. I was attached to Philadelphia too. I can honestly tell you, I would have been emotional also if Philly had won. Because I know how much the fans appreciate it. And I always remember how much work, and how much sweat, how much blood I spilt on that jersey for my city, and to be able to see the exhilaration of the best trophy in all of sports be held up over that jersey is indescribable. It’s pretty emotional, there’s no question. I’m an emotional guy. It’s pretty awesome.
Is the Blackhawks’ championship window closing?
I will say this, I think they have probably the best coach in the game, in (Joel) Quenneville. So with that being said, that window, whenever you have one of the best coaches [that’s] had as much success as Quenneville, you always have a chance to win a cup, and that’s really good. But with winning cups, comes salary caps, comes big salaries, and unfortunately, the Hawks have had a lot of guys leave that they couldn’t keep. Unfortunately that is going to weaken the team.
Losing (Artemi) Panarin hurt, and losing (Niklas) Hjalmarsson hurt more, because Hjalmarsson in my opinion, is the best stay-at-home defenseman in the National Hockey League. To replace him, is tough. You take Panarin out, you bring a very good player in in (Brandon) Saad, who the city loves.
That void is very miniscule. Panarin was probably more exciting to watch, I’m sure a lot of people liked watching Panarin, maybe more than Saad, but Saad is still a fan favorite.
It’s really tough to continue winning when you’ve won three cups. I think Stan Bowman has done an amazing job in trying to piece together the right people with that salary cap, and you have to give him a lot of credit because they’re still competitive.
I think them losing in four games to Nashville was flukey. If they lost in six or seven, maybe not as much of a fluke because it would have been a closer series. Give Nashville so much credit and give Pekka Rinne so much credit on how they played the whole way, but no one ever expected that to happen, but it happens. Now we’ll see how they rebound.
Is it tough to be around the game and know you’re not going out on the ice?
No, no. Not at all. I still can play, I still can move. No question about it, even at 47. Not that I could play at the level these guys are, but even at 42, 43 I did not want to be on the ice anymore. I totally love being retired, I totally love watching the game, but my body reached its punishment, and I couldn’t do that anymore.
When you see the Hockey Hall of Fame inductions, and you’re not included, do you get upset?
I don’t get upset. I mean, I wonder. I see some of the guys that go in, and I would say 98 percent of the guys that go in for sure should go. I’ve had questions about a few guys that have gone in before me since I’ve retired that have lifted my eyebrow. But I don’t get mad.
It’s the biggest honor that can be bestowed on you as an athlete is to be in the Hall of Fame. Those are the best players in the history of the game. It’s worth waiting for, it’s worth hoping for and all I can do is hope that the committee at some point sees my numbers, which by the way, in seeing some of the guys that have been put in, are equivalent, if not better.
You hope that some day your number [is] called, and that’ll be a great day. Until then, to be frustrated or mad, then you think of yourself as a Hall of Famer, then you have the ego. I don’t want that. I want somebody else to think I’m a Hall of Famer, and that’s when you’re a Hall of Famer.