Hello fellow hockey fans! I would like to take the time to formally introduce myself as one of the newly acquired staff writers for Blackhawk Up. I hope that you all are as excited as I am for the return of NHL hockey, following the Sochi Olympics. My congratulations go out to all the Chicago Blackhawks players who won a medal. I also want to congratulate those who got the honor to play for their homeland but may not have brought a medal home. Team Canada proved to be the team that wanted it more when it counted the most. While Team USA on the other hand, proved they still need another four years to build a team that can defeat Canada.
The Olympics is a different story though, maybe for a later time. I am here instead to give you a brief introduction about myself and how/why I am a Hawks fan. First off, I currently reside in Indianapolis but was born and raised in Northwest Indiana. Chicago sports are something you pretty much are born into living in the “The Region.” I would say around the age of 6 or 7 I was already on roller blades/ice skates and playing hockey with the neighborhood kids. During this time I also began my love for the Chicago Blackhawks and greats such as Tony Amonte, Ed Belfour, Chris Chelios, and Jeremy Roenick. From 1990-1994 as some of you may remember, this was the return of the better years for the Blackhawks but also some disappointing times. They won the Presidents’ Trophy, had consecutive trips to the playoffs, and also a Stanley Cup Final appearance where they fell short to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In 1995, at the age of 7, I experienced one of my great memories as a child. I got the chance to meet my Blackhawks favorite, Chris Chelios, at an autograph signing for the grand opening of a Sports Authority. Even though the line wrapped around the store and he had been there for hours, he was kind enough to sign both the provided 8×10” photo and also my Blackhawks hat. Both which I still have! My first official Blackhawks game was during the 1996-97 season when I was asked by a friend to go with him and sit in the Suites at the United Center. Talk about a treat! Unlimited hot dogs, dessert, and soda were enough to fascinate me, let alone seeing the Chicago Blackhawks live for the first time. I kept up with the Blackhawks sporadically over the next decade but didn’t make it to any games during their declining years. A big part of the decline was related to management’s poor decisions. This consequently pushed a lot of Chicagoans away from their favorite team.
The fuel that restarted my fire for the Blackhawks was management’s wise selection of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in the lottery draft during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. The signing of a solid core over the next few years included Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Keith. This proved that management was truly ready to turn things around and once again win a Stanley Cup. Luckily we did not have to wait long for the results of these strategic additions to the lineup.
During the 2009-10 Stanley Cup season I got the opportunity to see the Blackhawks play live once again. This time it was vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena where tickets are cheaper and a lot easier to come across. In addition, I couldn’t turn down the free stay at my sisters and the opportunity to enjoy the sport with my family. This goes to show that the Chicago Blackhawks and hockey are a great way to bring the family together, even when living in different states. Since then, our family has turned the Blackhawks/Blue Jackets trip into an annual event. As a result, I was also able to witness the Blackhawks live during their spectacular season which led to their 2012-13 Stanley Cup Championship. With that second Stanley Cup win in a matter of 4 years I started to think how special the moment was and I knew that I had to make it up north for the Championship Parade. What I did not know was that this parade was going to be bigger and even better than the one in 2010. Words cannot explain the excitement, celebration, and hospitality in the streets of Chicago that day. Definitely something I will always remember and cherish throughout my life.
So here is to many more Blackhawk victories and making each and every Stanley Cup Parade even better than the last. Don’t forget to catch the final Stadium Series of the year this Saturday, March 1 at 8PM ET on NBC. The night matchup of Penguins vs. Blackhawks will be played outside under the bright lights of Soldier Field. With the league back in full force and the playoffs around the corner, be sure to head back and check out the exciting articles written by the staff here at Blackhawk Up. LET’S GO HAWKS!