Local Squirts Look to the Hawks

With the recent resurgence of the Chicago Blackhawks franchise, the hockey team on Chicago’s West Side has gained back a lot of fans, but that goes without saying. A major group of those fans, youth hockey players, are back on the bandwagon as well.

Thomas Farrell is an 11 year-old defenseman on the Chicago Mission squirt major team. For him, it’s all about the Indian head and the Hawks quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

“I just love watching them play in the playoffs,” said Farrell. “I mean, they haven’t been there in a long time. I love watching their offense in the offensive zone. They make a lot of good chances. I think it’s really cool to watch.”

Like nearly all of his Mission teammates, Thomas is intently taking in every game he can watch. But in recent years, that wasn’t always the case. The Blackhawks famously struggled through most of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Even among youth players, the team wasn’t on many radars.

“I’ve been coaching at this level for ten years,” said Ryan Taylor, coach of the Mission squirts. “And you know you really didn’t hear these kids talk about the Blackhawks, and now you walk into the locker room and they’re talking about the game last night, or talking about their favorite player.”

For Thomas, his favorite player is an easy one—fellow defenseman Brian Campbell. Farrell loves watches the slick blue-liner, and emulates his every move, so that one day he can do the ultimate imitation—skating for the Blackhawks on the biggest stage.

“(To) be able to be in front of the whole country,” said Farrell. “I mean I love just doing my thing and I love playing defense, it’s fun.”
The Blackhawks tagline for the 2009-10 season has been “One Goal,” quite fitting for players like Thomas Farrell and his aspirations of someday joining the team.


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