MUNSTER | This was a case where mother knows best.
"I wanted him to become a soccer player," said George Saad, father of Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad. "I played soccer (in Europe), never hockey. Believe me, he was also a helluva soccer player."
"But I'm the one who put him on the ice," said Saad's mother, Sandy. "He was just two years old then."
Good work, Mom.
"I played a lot of sports growing up," the 20-year-old rookie said, "but, yeah, I'm glad I stuck with hockey. It just has been an unbelievable experience for me this year."
While accompanied by his parents, who were visiting from Pittsburgh, Saad made an appearance last Wednesday night at The Charleyhorse in Munster. Just 15 minutes after his arrival, a line of autograph-seeking and camera-toting fans was already wrapped around the building.
Things could have been worse according to Charleyhorse manager Bryan Sord.
"Business was bad during the (NHL) lockout," said Sord, whose restaurant/bar is a noted hotspot for Blackhawk fans. "It was terrible, and for a while it didn't look like there was going to be a season.
"Now that they're back and with Blackhawks breaking the (team point-streak) record, all the enthusiasm has returned."
Sord has procured personal and professional ties with several Blackhawk dignitaries, and has consistently attracted current and former players to the establishment.
"And we've been lucky to book some just before they became stars," Sord said. "We had (journeyman goalie) Ray Emery here before he set an NHL record himself (starting the season at 12-0-0)."
A second-round draft pick in 2011 (43rd overall), Saad is also having a breakout season. A candidate for the Calder Trophy (NHL's rookie of the year), he has scored 23 points through 37 games.
And he hasn't had to do anyone's laundry.
"Though I'm the youngest on the team, I've never been bothered with that," Saad said about rookie hazing. "The way things were at the start of the season, the schedule was real tight to get things ready, so we had no time for stuff like that."
Saad lives in Chicago during the season, but still hasn't officially moved out of his parents' home in Pittsburgh during the offseason. At approximately five hours past the NHL trade deadline that Wednesday, Saad was happy he didn't have to move out of Chicago.
"I definitely want to stay here for a long time," said Saad, who was reportedly being pursued by the New York Islanders. "It's been fun ... the guys have been great, and I'm glad I'm staying."