Blackhawks grant 12-year-old's wish to practice with team and 'fight' Jonathan Toews

Phil Thompson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Hockey

CHICAGO -- Sometimes it takes a hockey fight with a 12-year-old to help make some sense of the Blackhawks' rough season.

It was just a couple days ago when Jonathan Toews -- not known for mixing it up -- dropped gloves with Ducks center and longtime adversary Ryan Kesler. "Obviously with Kesler he's been trying to instigate a lot," Toews said. "For myself the time was right to try to stand up and do something."

Then on Tuesday morning, Midlothian, Ill., fifth-grader Mason Berg pulled Toews down by his jersey and gave him a few playful shots. "I'm 0-2 in the last two," Toews laughed. "Mason connected with far more punches than the one I had earlier this week, so it was a little tougher today."

Toews, teammates and coaches skated with Berg, who has muscular dystrophy and was rolled onto the ice in a wheelchair, and made him an honorary Blackhawk for a day after the team received a request from Make-A-Wish Illinois. Berg and his parents also were set to attend Tuesday night's game against the Avalanche.

During practice, Mason scored on goalie Anton Forsberg (his favorite part), exchanged high fives with players and found time to prank Toews. "He was pulling tricks on me, handing me a water bottle with the screw off," Toews said. "Got a nice face wash. Apparently that was his idea, too. It wasn't Seabs or any of the guys telling him to do that."

Asked during his "press conference" whether he's always been a practical joker, Mason smiled and said, "Kind of."

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Dad Dan Callahan called it an "awesome" experience for his son. "We watch the games all the time together," he said. "He does nothing but play video games with the Blackhawks on."

"This is just amazing," mom Patty Berg added. "He's been wanting to do this. He just wants to be a Hawk so bad. And today was very special because he's always, 'Mom, can we go to the game? Mom, can we meet the guys?' So today was just a wonderful day and it's something that he'll never ever forget and neither will I."

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