He shoots, he scores

Hawks legend Jeremy Roenick is video-game famous—and he's OK with that

  • Jeremy Roenick in 1995
Jeremy Roenick in 1995 (Getty Images file photo )
December 17, 2012|By Ted Gruber, @tedgruber | For RedEye

It hasn't been cold enough for a true hockey atmosphere in Chicago, but Blackhawks legend Jeremy Roenick doesn't seem to mind.

In the Chicago area to sign copies of his new book, "J.R.," recently, he covered a variety of topics with RedEye, including the NHL lockout, why Chicago is still close to his heart and video game immortality.

How long did it take to put together a book about your NHL career?

It was a very long process. It was 18 months of writing and talking and calculating on how we were going to do it. It was 90 hours' worth of banter, and picking the right stories was the most crucial aspect. I cut about 70 percent that I left out. There's only so much that you can put in one book during a 20-year career in hockey. I have enough stories to put a second and third book out.

Could we see those books in the coming years?

It's very possible. We will see what happens. I mean, this book has been a very good start for me and it's been great to see. They are going off the shelves as fast as they are making them. It's a good indication that people would want another one.

In the video game "NHL 94" you were compared to Bo Jackson in "Tecmo Bowl." What are your thoughts on "NHL 94" and video games today?

It's my claim to fame. I'm more popular and famous for my video game-ness than my hockey game-ness. It was in the movie "Swingers" and it has kind of created a pop culture of sorts. It's always cool to see your kids or other family members playing game and using the Chicago Blackhawks and me on every line.

I don't play any video games anymore, but my son does. But he refuses to play with me; he uses Alex Ovechkin instead. Welcome to the new age I guess, right? But he knows my celebrity status in video games. That's for sure.

What side is wrong in this NHL lockout dispute?

I don't think either is wrong. Owners have to get their money and players want to make their money in the best case possible. They should get a deal done faster than they have been working toward. Now that they are at an impasse, lawsuits are starting to happen. There is also going to be an attempt to dissolve the union. It's a major headache for everyone involved. I guess we have to wait and see what happens.

You have dealt with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman during your career. Do you think he's doing a good job of resolving this situation?

He has to do what he has to do. [The league] has to protect 30 teams; he's not there to protect 700 players. He has to make the owners get their money and it looks like he will again in that aspect. It's unfortunate the fans have to pay the price in order to get the business side of the [collective bargaining agreement] figured out. The NBA did the same things the NHL is starting to do [in negotiations] and there was a deal a few weeks later. Hopefully it happens.

You started your career in Chicago when you were 18 and played here for eight years. What is the feeling you get when you come back?

It's phenomenal. Chicago was a very big part of my career and a much bigger part of my heart. My relationship with the fans here goes far and beyond any other athlete that played in a city for an extended period of time. This is where Jeremy Roenick was created to tell you the truth. No. 27 is still known as Jeremy Roenick in this city. It brings a smile to my face, still having all these fans coming out to see me so many years after I left this beautiful city.

Again, this is where I was created, and Chicago is always going to be a part of my life.

Ted Gruber is a RedEye special contributor.

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