CHICAGO | Like he was on the Academy Awards’ stage, John Wiedeman praised every one of his broadcast co-workers and the Blackhawks organization in his receipt of the Illinois Sportscaster of the Year Award late last week.
But the honor is not given for teamwork. Broadcasters receive awards for great individual talent. So Wiedeman offered up his own definition of an award-winning hockey radio announcer such as himself.
“I would just say passion on the airwaves and attention to detail,” he said. “I know what I’d like to hear as a listener for a hockey play-by-play broadcast. Broadcasters who get on the air and just generalize, to me they’re not doing their jobs. Anybody can do that.
“When you’re in that position (a non-visual medium), you have to give detail, detail, detail, detail. You have to push it. It’s hard. Sometimes you stumble, sometimes you make mistakes, but you just keep going.”
Wiedeman broadcasts for the moment, for each play, and never regards his job as a steppingstone. Nor should others.
“People who are in the business who do hockey play-by-play on the radio,” he said, “that don’t work hard at it and don’t want to do anything more than try to get the next job, maybe in another sport, should get out because they’re doing a disservice to the sport I love.”
The state’s top sportscasters award, a first for Wiedeman, was given out in conjunction with the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Wiedeman has called two Stanley Cup championships in his eight seasons as Hawks announcer, now teaming with Troy Murray, on WGN-AM (720). He has also been the radio voice of the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers, while also serving as substitute voice for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Center for all seasons: In his scoring slump that dated back to Dec. 28, the Hawks’ Andrew Shaw was demoted one step down to the fourth line. But on Sunday night, Shaw found himself centering the second line for Patrick Kane.
The first-line job, of course, is not available due to Jonathan Toews.
“I think it’s good to play with everyone,” Shaw said. “There’s chemistry through the whole team here. Anyone can play with anyone.
“Juggling the lines just shakes things up. It gets guys’ heads out of their (butts), I guess.”
Be ready for close games: Some fans got spoiled by the Hawks’ NHL-pacing scoring and a slew of five- and six-goal outputs. Coach Joel Quenneville knew better, with adjustments like Shaw’s shifts and others as the team has gone into an offensive lull since New Year’s.
“Nothing wrong being patient,” added Quenneville. “We’re not going to get five or six goals a night. We have to realize that’s the way it is. That’s how you win in our league, playing tight games.”
In full agreement is winger Marian Hossa, who notched his 17th goal on his 35th birthday Sunday night.
“The teams coming here from the road, they’re ready for us,” Hossa said. “They want to beat us. They’re ready for that type of game. It’s not easy for us.
“We know we’re not going to score four, five, six goals each game. We have to learn to play tight games, win 1-0, win by one goal.”