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updated: 5/22/2014 9:27 PM

Blackhawks love lacing up the skates

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  • Fans pound on the glass after Nick Leddy scored the first goal of the game in Wednesday's 6-2 Blackhawks loss. Leddy, a native of Minnesota, said he loves hockey because it "involves everything."

      Fans pound on the glass after Nick Leddy scored the first goal of the game in Wednesday's 6-2 Blackhawks loss. Leddy, a native of Minnesota, said he loves hockey because it "involves everything."
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

LOS ANGELES -- You hear the stories every year when the NHL playoffs end.

That player you thought looked a little off during the postseason? Yeah, well he actually was playing with cracked ribs. Or numbness in his foot. Or a broken hand.

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Or worse.

It's amazing what hockey players will go through for their team and their sport.

Just look at how hard it has been on Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw, who had to sit out basically the entire Minnesota series and the first two games against Los Angeles.

"Horrible," Shaw said of the experience. "You want to be out there helping your team win. It (stinks) to sit back and watch."

It's the love of the game, and few athletes seem have it as much as hockey players.

But why? Why do these guys love hockey so much?

That was the question, and here are some of the Blackhawks' answers in their own words:

Michal Handzus

"I've always loved hockey because of everything -- the locker room, the guys, and then you go out and just play with a puck and a stick.

"I used to love to score goals, but when you get older you just want to help the team win. It's always a challenge, and I think it's good for human beings to always challenge themselves.

"It's fun to do something that you started out just to have fun with but now it's your job. I'm 37 and I'm still having fun. Not a lot of people have that kind of luck."

Andrew Shaw

"It's the greatest sport on earth, and I can't even call it a job even though I get paid for it.

"It's pretty awesome to go out there with a group of guys and battle against another group of guys -- that's entertaining to me."

Patrick Sharp

Oh, I think it's probably the teammates, the trainers … it's fun to come to the rink every day. We consider this our workplace, but we get to have fun with each other.

"We're playing a game for a living, and it's just as fun now as it was when we were 5 or 6 years old. I mean it's definitely a job and you feel the stress and feel the pressure at certain times, but the actual game of hockey -- tying the skates, taping the stick -- there's always going to be fun in it."

Antti Raanta

"It's the greatest sport to be a part of. I think the best part is when you feel the winning and you feel the losing -- you can't get those kinds of feelings any other place.

"I'd say 80 percent of my buddies are from hockey. When you're part of something like this you start feeling your team is a family.

"In interview with hockey players, it's always about the team, not about themselves. We do this for each other.

Brandon Bollig

"We're lucky enough to play a game for a living. The relationships you make in the game of hockey are unbelievable and you'll carry those with you the rest of your life."

Nick Leddy

"Wow, so many reasons. You grow up playing the sport you love. It's a sport that involves everything.

"Coming from Minnesota, which has so much hockey tradition -- and my dad's side of the family played -- so I just grew up breathing it and loving it."

Kris Versteeg

"It's pretty much all I know. It gives you a euphoric feeling when you score a goal or do something crazy, but it also can bring you right down in the dumps. It's something where you're playing on the edge of doing really well or doing really bad.

"It's taught at a young age at junior hockey to always be together, and all my best friends come from the game, so I owe everything I have to the game."

mspellman@dailyherald.com

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