Only a day after the NHL canceled all games through November 30, Chicago Blackhawks fans got a tiny taste of hockey that will have to substitute for another 15 lost games. A group of locked out NHL players, staring members of the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup Championship team, put on a show for nearly 12,000 fans at the Allstate Arena in Chicago. With a goal of raising $250,000 for the Ronald McDonald House charities, the Champs for Charity event was an overwhelming success surpassing the $323,000 mark.
The great turnout proved how much fans missed hockey and how much players missed performing. The game had an NHL All-Star type feel to it with All-Star type goals and final score, Team World winning over Team Chicago in a shootout 16-15. Goalie Niklas Backstrom scored on a penalty shot, Daniel Carcillo played his game as much as he could by engaging in a set-up fight, and Patrick Kane did what he does best by netting 4 goals.
As much as the fans enjoyed this night for a great cause, they left with whetted appetites for the real thing. Fans don’t just want hockey, they want their team, their players. They want the game to count and for the logos on their shirts to mean something again. Many fans used the event to literally make their voices heard. The verdict? They love hockey and …really don’t like Gary Bettman. That was the feeling Friday night as chants against Bettman broke out between cheers and celebrations for the National Anthem, star players and every one of the 31 goals.
Based on Friday’s game, neither the fans nor the players have changed their mind on the lockout. There were no shifts in perspectives, no more motivation on the part of the players to make concessions to the owners, no empty arena by the fans to prove a point. It showed that, yes, fans love hockey, but they also love their players. Those are the people that they want to see play hockey, and as the lockout lengthens, they will take anything that comes their way.
What do you think: did the Champs for Charity event have any effect on the lockout?
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