By Larry Wigge
A year ago, Andrew Shaw attended a Stanley Cup party. Whoa. What.
I know the 5-10, 180-pound winger is a schemer, always in the middle of things. But ...
It just so happened to be the post-series celebration of Los Angeles Kings forward Brad Richardson, whom Shaw had played with in Owen Sound, Ontario.
He watched as his buddy celebrate with family and friends ... and later in the year saw the Cup ring on Richardson's finger. Now, that would inspire anyone to be better.
Fast-forward to June 12, 2013 and this year's Cup Finals between Shaw's Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins.
Lo-and-behold, it just happened to Shaw who scored on a double-deflection goal off his right leg 12:08 into the third overtime to give Chicago a come-from-behind 4-3 win in triple overtime to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
"He's really excited to be here," said Patrick Kane.
Get this ...
"He's a kid that I think he got passed over twice in two drafts," continued Kane. "We picked him up in the fifth round."
That would qualify Andrew Shaw as a real live late comer to the NHL -- fifth round, 139th pick, 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He would see his friends get picked in the draft. He wondered: Why not him?
Shaw is an agitator, a pest, a disturber. Even though, he's an undersized 5-10 and 180 pounds, he can be nuisance for opponents with his fists, his physical play, his mouth ... and in big games his stick.
"I take it as a compliment," Shaw said. "It's how my game has developed throughout my career. It's what's got me here. I got to stick to it, just compete and work to the best of my abilities."
Like in Game 1, he battled with Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara -- and giving away 11 inches and 75 pounds. And he went in to the dirty areas of the ice earned Shaw plenty of praise from his teammates and coach Joel Quenneville.
"The bigger the stage, the bigger the challenge, he rises to the occasion," Quenneville said. "He knows where the front of the net is. He's a warrior. He's one of those guys that you appreciate he's on your side. He's relentless."
As a youngster growing up the Toronto Maple Leafs were his favorite team.
"Wendel Clark was my favorite player. I try to resemble his play," Shaw remembered. "Wendel wasn't the biggest guy. But he wasn't afraid of anyone. He stuck up for his teammates and he was a great leader -- but also brought forth an offensive role, so he's just a great all-around character player to model your game around."
Shaw posted nine goals and six assists in 48 games in the regular season. His game has taken on a new high in the playoffs with five goals and four assists in 18 games -- of course the most recent goal was a game-winner. He added to his goal and assist, three shots and nine hits in the game.
Doug and Darlene are the proud parents. Doug is a long-time junior B player in Belleville and has been a minor hockey coach in the area. Doug tried to change his hyperactive son when he was younger.
There's no denying Shaw's passion for hockey. Once, when he was 11 years old, he tried to hide from his parents a broken hand so he could continue to play. After he was fitted with a playing cast, he scored five goals in the next game.
Sure, every once in a while Shaw's belligerence gets him into trouble.
Even with his teammates ...
"Oh, he's a handful in the dressing room, too," Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said. He's a high-energy guy. He likes to have fun, get guys going, jumping around the room, bouncing around. He's pretty much the same he is on the ice, just without skates on."
"Character," said Shaw. "I bring everything I have into every game and I'm not afraid to step up to the plate. I'll do anything the team needs me to do to win and I try to be the least selfish I can be and stay disciplined ... but the other team still always knows I'm there."
That vote for character appeals to Chicago captain Jonathan Toews.
"I think you could ask players on other teams and they'll tell you that he's not the type of guy that they like to play against," Toews said. "But that's what we love about him.
"We love having a guy like that on our team. He's not afraid. You saw him going up against Chara. Probably the guy on our team that got up against him the most, hit him. Stirred him up a little bit, drew a penalty, scored a huge goal, unbelievable goal.
"Big game by this guy. I don't know if he had like nine, 10 hits, whatever it was. But, he kept going all night and didn't stop."
There's no quit in Andrew Shaw.