By Paul M. Banks
A lot of people have heard of John Madden, the retired NFL announcer with a severe man-crush on Brett Favre. Not as many have heard of John Madden, the forward signed by the Chicago Blackhawks for $2.75 million away from the New Jersey Devils this past offseason.
Madden is one of the league’s best defensive forwards; winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2001, and finishing second in ‘03, ‘04 and ‘08. Madden played his college hockey for the University of Michigan, where he set the NCAA record for most career shorthanded goals (23) and also won a title on the 1995–96 team. Madden’s teammates at Michigan included future NHL players Brendan Morrison, Mike Knuble, Blake Sloan, Marty Turco, Steve Shields and Bill Muckalt.
Currently, Michigan has more alumni in the NHL than any other school. Just before the season started, I asked Madden about being a UM alum in the Chicago area. “A lot of alumni that I know from Michigan live here, so it’s kind of good, I get to hang out with those guys a bit.” He responded before adding how they sometimes still talk about the championship glory days. “We reminisce, especially the ones that aren’t playing hockey anymore, at least competitively, talk a lot.”
Madden’s addition brings a niche ability to Chicago. He led the NHL, set a Devils’ team record and tied the NHL rookie record by scoring six shorthanded goals during the 1999–00 season. I asked him what the key was to having a great penalty kill.
“I think first of all, it has a lot to do with the coaching- anytime a coach gives you a green light to go on the offense on the penalty kill, but it’s also making good reads, understanding who’s on the ice, who you’re playing with and what their tendencies are. One thing I could say is every power play has their flaws, so there’s always an opportunity.”
Since the Hawks had a colorful, and very news-worthy offseason, Madden’s signing was a bit overlooked. But Madden’s team is certainly not forgotten about, as they’re a trendy national pick to win the Western Conference. “They’re warranted, we have some good hockey players here. Going all the way to game five against Detroit opened some eyes and there’s expectations,” Madden said.Follow paulmbanks