I'm Just Saying with former Crystal Lake Leafs player Ryan Hartman
Last Sunday, West Dundee native and former Crystal Lake Leafs player Ryan Hartman became the Blackhawks’ first-round NHL draft pick, chosen 30th overall. This week, Hartman will participate in the Hawks’ prospects training camp, getting his first insider look at the franchise he grew up cheering for and that he secretly held out hope would choose him in the draft.
I wanted to be pretty open-minded (about the draft). I knew I was a guy who really could have been anywhere on the map. I could have been from (picks) 15 to 20 or from 20 to 30 and so I really didn’t set any expectations. I didn’t get too anxious too soon. [The wait] is very anxious, but exciting at the same time. I sat there for each pick and didn’t expect to hear my name, but if I did, I would be excited, obviously. After 24 or 25, I thought, maybe we could hold off a little bit more. We had held off pretty long so maybe a few more (picks) wouldn’t hurt.
When I heard my name, I stood up and they were playing (Chelsea Dagger), which is a pretty popular song in Chicago, which I thought was pretty cool to hear. It was awesome. It was real emotional. I had a lot of family from Chicago that was at the draft, and so it was a really good time for us. Chicago has come a long way and it’s really becoming a hockey city, when a few years back, it may not have been. But the last few years, the fan base has really been crazy, and they’re selling out pretty much every game. So being downtown for the parade a few years ago, the whole city was filled with people, nobody’s moving, just wall-to-wall, building-to-building, just full of people, [was] pretty amazing.
Putting on the Blackhawks sweater for the first time is more of a speechless type feeling. It’s very humbling, it’s crazy to think about. It’s one of those things where watching the Blackhawks growing up, you picture yourself with that jersey on and looking back, looking at pictures of me putting that jersey on up on stage is pretty crazy, but at the same time, it’s really awesome for me and my family.
I only played (in Crystal Lake) for a year when I was 10. (The Leafs) were playing out of Crystal Lake (eight years ago) and then moved to West Dundee a couple minutes from my house , but we won a state championship that year – we played the Chicago Blues in the state championship. So we were playing on a pretty big stage and it was definitely cool to win a state championship and I won a few more in the years to come.
I show a lot of heart when I play, and I’m a tough player. A lot of people think I just play the agitator’s role, but [the Hawks] see my offensive side, which is there. They know I can score goals and put up a lot of points if I need to. I do get under people’s skin a lot, but at the same time, I create offense and I create a lot of offensive opportunities, and so I mix in a good mix of both. I’d compare my game to someone like Andrew Shaw or Dave Bolland – they’re strong, physical guys and they produce points and they create offensive opportunities, but at the same time, they need to shut down the other team’s top line. If they need to create some energy for the team with a fight or with a big hit, they do. You definitely need guys like that to win games, especially in the playoffs.
• I’m Just Saying is a regular Sunday feature. If there’s someone you’d like to see featured in this space, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on Twitter @NWH_JeffArnold.