With 2012 just five days old and #ShawFacts unborn, the Blackhawks’ fan base sounded like a group of owls, collectively yelling “Who?!” after hearing Andrew Shaw was being called up from Rockford.
The little-known fifth-round draft pick wasn’t expected to be in the Blackhawks’ plans this season or even next season, depending on who you ask. Hell, I challenge most of you to even recall the ‘Hawks drafting him.
But there was Shaw, a 180-pound ball of energy unexpectedly ready to make an impact.
And from his first game, that’s exactly what he did. Shaw provided the grit and tenacity we’d hoped to see from more experienced players while also packing a scoring punch. Sure, there are deficiencies in his game. He has plenty to learn, and that aggressiveness he showed ended up costing him in the playoffs, but Shaw provided a pleasant surprise for the ‘Hawks by getting an early jump on his career.
It’s pretty amazing how Shaw went from an unknown to being a key player the ‘Hawks seemed to miss during his three-game ban in the postseason. He fought in one of his first NHL shifts and scored a goal in his first career game – a 5-4 loss to Philadelphia on Jan. 5. Shaw then added a four-game goal streak from Jan. 12-18, earning himself a bit of a cult following among fans who couldn’t get enough of the unexpected explosion from the rookie.
Forklift of HockeeNight started #ShawFacts on Twitter, and the damn thing exploded while Fork sat at home getting little credit for his creation the Blackhawks and Shaw himself ran with.
Five goals in your first eight career games will get you that attention.
Then, Shaw became human. He went 12 games without a goal and was basically invisible during the nine-game losing streak. He got caught being overly aggressive, was out of position and seemed lost at times in his own zone. He played five minutes in the win over the Rangers on Feb. 16, taking a bad penalty and missing his assignment that led to a goal. He was sent down and seemed destined to remain in Rockford.
His demotion lasted only two weeks, though, and just like his first call-up, Shaw came back and scored in a win over Toronto on Feb. 29 and was here to stay for the rest of the season. He finished with 23 points in 37 games and provided a lift for the Blackhawks that no one saw coming.
Despite his small stature, he provided a presence in front of the net and caused some disruption with physical play – sometimes smart, other times reckless.
That recklessness showed at times in his three playoff games, eventually feeling the brunt of the Shanahammer to the tune of a three-game suspension for allegedly running over Mike Smith, who can be credited with a flop even the Sedins could envy. Nevertheless, Shaw’s ban stemmed from being overly aggressive before that play, and that got him – and the ‘Hawks – in trouble at times this season.
For a rookie few heard of before the season began, Shaw exploded onto the scene and provided a spark while cementing a spot with the 2012-13 Blackhawks. While his aggressiveness and energy are welcome assets, he needs to tone it down at times to put himself and the team in better situations. There was definitely some inconsistency that comes with growing pains, and he’s got an offseason to go over that. He got to learn on the job this year, and he’ll likely get a crack at a full 82 next season.
About the author
Editor/founder of Cheer the Anthem, season ticket holder in Section 326 and full-time sports writer who lists June 9, 2010, as one of the greatest days of his life. Contact him at email@example.com.