What We Can Learn From Blackhawks Fans and the United Center


So the missus and I took a trip to Chicago last weekend. For her birthday she wanted to see a Blackhawks game. I know, I know, I have a keeper. Any of you single guys out there, if you find a woman who lists seeing a hockey game as the top priority for her birthday, you put a ring on her.

The Boston Bruins were in town and it was a matchup of the two most recent Stanley Cup champions. In a way it felt like I was scouting both the teams and the crowd to see if there was anything I could glean for how we can help bring the Cup to Buffalo.

First off, I have to say that Chicago is a very friendly city. Everyone from the parking lot attendants to the scalpers to the panhandlers were all very nice. (The panhandlers reminded everyone to buckle up and be safe on the way out.)

Somehow I thought the United Center was much older, but it only opened in 1994. It’s a gorgeous place and seems state-of-the-art with huge displays everywhere on the concourse.

Sitting down, we saw all the banners of Blackhawks Norris and Smythe division titles and their 4 Stanley Cup championships. I had somehow forgotten that this is where the Bulls play and earned all their championships of the 1990s – six championships in seven years! Amazing history in this building.

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That's a lot of banners. Four Cup wins in 86 years. The Sabres have a late start but hopefully they can have more than that when the franchise is that old. If Pegula is the owner throughout that time, we have a shot at it.

The Madhouse on Madison as it’s known is loud and lots of fun and with a very hockey-smart crowd filling it. Of course this is an original six hockey city, so there’s a rich tradition and love of hockey in their DNA. Something I had read about and looking forward to was the singing of the national anthem. Unique to the city, Chicagoans cheer, sing, clap and otherwise make noise throughout the whole anthem. Some might think it disrespectful, but when you experience it, it’s a thing of beauty. They’re not crapping on the anthem, they’re saluting it; rather than being quiet and solemn, they’re expressing how great it is. Awesome.

 What We Can Learn From Blackhawks Fans and the United Center

We could use a similar name for the FN Center. Anyone got any ideas? Leave them in the comments.

There was a good amount of Bruins fans at the game and a group by us. Early on, they started a “Let’s go, Bruins” chant. Almost immediately, the surrounding Blackhawks fans booed them, drowning out their chant and effectively shutting them up. As Scott pointed out a while back on Buffalo 74,  the boo sound is the loudest sound humans can make, so it makes sense that this will drown anything else out. (Sabres fans – let’s use this to quiet those pesky Penguins, Leafs or Habs fans!)

I’m pretty sure I was the only Sabres fans in the building. Unlike some other arenas (i.e. Nationwide Arena in Columbus) there was hardly anyone wearing apparel from third party teams that weren’t playing. They also played the Sabre Dance and for a fleeting moment I thought the arena’s crew had spotted a lone Sabres fan in the stands and wanted him to feel at home.

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The view from on high at the good old hockey game. And

Last but not least is the goal song, a topic thought about a lot here at BSN and previously at Buffalo ’74. The Blackhawks started using their current goal song back in their run to the playoffs in the championship year of 2009-2010. It’s from the song “Chelsea Dagger” by the Fratellis. It’s the part about :25 in, the Do-de-do part – imagine that repeated a couple of times. It’s pretty catchy and when a crowd of 22,000+ is doing it, truly something to behold.

Of course, I’m writing more about the experience than the game, although the game was pretty good too. The Blackhawks scored late in the third to send it to oooooh-vertime and some of the most exciting OT hockey I’ve seen in a while. It went to a shootout where as usual, the best goalie wins. Tim Thomas showed his greatness while Corey Crawford’s weaknesses were exposed.

Such a good time at the United Center and I hope to be going back for a Sabres game there someday. So, y’know, I can get booed down when I chant “Let’s go, Buffalo!” Who’s with me?

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