Last Saturday, Uncle Bob's Self Storage in Chicago held a meet-and-greet with newly-rich Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell. As an added bonus, a 16-player Mario Kart tournament was held with the winner facing off against the two-time Stanley Cup champion.
In the fan vs. hockey player matchup, everything came up Bryan Bickell as he dominated with four straight race victories.
Why Mario Kart? Bickell says that the Blackhawks play the game to help refocus, a pastime that began during their Cup run in 2010.
From his NHL.com blog in June:
I don't want to call it a kid's game, because we love playing it. And we played it after the game Monday night because some of us needed a way to put our gears in neutral. We were in overdrive and emotional, but getting into some Mario Kart action allowed us to wind down, neutralize ourselves and essentially move on from the tough 2-0 loss.
This is an important time for us and this next game is probably the biggest game of my life, but you overthink the game, that's where you can make the mistakes. So, having the ability to fall back on some Mario Kart action is a way to keep us relaxed and take us away from the game for a little while.
Bickell added that he ranks himself, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brent Seabrook as the best Mario Kart players on the Blackhawks. Apparently when Troy Brouwer was with the team, he couldn't take losing very well and a few Wii controllers paid the price.
Should the Bickell and his teammates ever want a real challenge, the Puck Daddy staff is prepared. Mooney is deadly with the red Koopa shells; Wysh sneakily deploys the banana peels, while I have dynamite luck with the item box.
Stick-tap Josh K.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy