HOCKEY ON ICE
hockey tradition sustains them during COVID-19
By Scott Jonlich | Hinsdale Magazine
Professional and youth sports programs have come to a halt since the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic put the economy and our society in uncertainty. Hinsdale-area resident Stephen Konroyd, son of retired Chicago Blackhawk’s star Steve Konroyd, is in a holding pattern during a time when the NHL season is on the verge of being canceled after the season was suspended March 12.
“I feel bad for hockey fans and those college hockey seniors. I miss it and I hope we can get started up again at some point,” said Steve Konroyd, the pre and post-game analyst and color commentator for Blackhawks’ games. “We missed the best part of the (NHL) year because the Blackhawks had about a dozen games to go and typically that last stretch is kind of like playoff hockey.”
Konroyd said the Blackhawks were on the “outside looking in as far as the playoff spot goes” and Hawk fans missed some of the most exciting hockey with those competitive games. “They were playing some good hockey and made some trades at the trade deadline. The guys weren’t willing to give up."
At the same time, the 19 year-old Stephen Konroyd was playing his second year of Junior hockey in Victoria, British Columbia when he got traded to the Boston Jr. Bruins of the National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC). The 5"11" 175 lb forward plans on returning to Boston in the hopes of earning a scholarship.
Stephen Konroyd of the Victoria Grizzlies
The youngest of the five Konroyd children, Stephen has dreams of following in his father’s footsteps. “Unfortunately, I never saw my dad play in the NHL as I was born in 2000. But I always wanted to follow in his footsteps and play at a high level of hockey and that’s what I have been dreaming of my whole life.”
Stephen attended Hinsdale Central High school and after his junior year attended Belmont High School in Victoria, BC while playing hockey on the west coast of Canada. Junior hockey has been canceled across the country until next year. "Unfortunately our season was canceled right as we were entering the playoffs, and that should make us hungry to start the season" said Stephen who has one more year of junior hockey eligibility. Currently he takes college courses on-line.
The Covid-19 shelter-in-place in Illinois has given the Konroyds more time together to reflect on the past and think about the future. In the meantime, Stephen finds time to work out while keeping in close contact with his advisor Colby Drost of Paragon Sports.
“In hockey, they like looking at kids at age 19 and 20 because the kids are mature and done growing and by the time they end their college career they will be 24 and that’s kind of an advantage for some hockey teams to have some older players on their team,” Konroyd told Hinsdale Magazine.
A Hinsdale resident since 1988, Konroyd has been doing Blackhawk TV for the past 14 years since 2006. He retired in 1995 before radio broadcasting in 1996 in Phoenix Coyotes (Arizona Coyotes today)
Reflecting on his NHL career, he appreciates the slower pace of life now with his wife Juli and his children. “(Broadcasting) was nice because it was a way of staying involved with the game. It’s great because you don’t have the same pressure as a coach or player. It’s great when your team wins, but you don’t take the game home with you. I know coaches they live and breathe with wins and losses. With broadcasters, when the game is over, you come home, park it, and enjoy your life.”
The Konroyds' enjoyment now comes from watching Stephen's hockey games live on Hockey TV, which is convenient considering Canada and its time zone. They talk to him after every game and said, “It’s the next best thing to being there.”
“It’s great playing hockey up in British Columbia,” said Stephen whose father hails from Toronto. “Canada is the hockey capital of the world and it’s nice to be surrounded by a culture that fully embraces the support and has a passion for it. The beauty of British Columbia with its mountains and atmosphere is unbelievable and a huge change for me.”
Juli Konroyd and son Stephen Konroyd, 19
While he misses playing hockey during the coronavirus threat, Stephen and his family are enjoying family time like most Americans. His mother Juli, a lifelong resident of Hinsdale and a Hinsdale Central 1982 graduate, watched her share of hockey over the years. “It was fun watching my husband playing for the Blackhawks. Our neighbors would join us for games while Stephen would have his own, private cheering section from my hometown! I appreciate every moment from my husband’s playing years and to now watching my son play.”
While our nation can only hope to watch professional and youth sports again, fans and families like the Konroyds will continue to reminisce about the championships and perhaps watch game highlights for another moment of glory and inspiration. Fans and amateur athletes will borrow from the inspirational feats of those legendary athletes and parents that once played the game, so that we may take some of that inspiration onto the playing field again.