“Only the country of Canada & Blackhawks fans truly celebrate hockey.” He’s right: You haven’t been to a hockey game until you’ve cheered on the Blackhawks at United Center. We went to our 2nd game last week.
A bit of background: We are a hockey family. Matt plays. Greg plays. All of us appreciate the game. My favorite sound in the universe is hockey — skates and sticks, goal horns and cursing at refs. We raised our kids with arena night (normal families have movie night, I’ve heard) in the glorious Ralph Engelstad Arena and now many other rinks (and several ice-cold barn dumps) around the upper Midwest.
Highlights of this Blackhawks experience:
This city loves hockey. We walked a bit, stopped by the Blackhawks store on Michigan Ave, stopped for a quick bite to eat, then took a cab to the arena. Everywhere, we heard, “Go Hawks” and “Have fun” from others. Cool.
Soaking it all in
There’s a certain aura about hallowed ground such as United Center. I did grow up a basketball fanatic, and my #2 sports experience of all time was seeing Michael Jordan play from court side seats. He was superhuman. He did fly. Soared over any defender with amazing grace. And his home court commemorates him with a beautiful statue to welcome even hockey fans…
This, from a few seasons ago, makes me smile. I know Mr Jordan loved it, too:
Inside, the banners (which I couldn’t even fit in one camera shot) tell the tale of Champions.
If you haven’t figured it out by the time the National Anthem begins, you’ll realize within two notes that you are in a very special place. Fans are at high volume the ENTIRE Anthem (respectfully but with enthusiasm), and on their feet much of the game. We’ve now had seats on the 300 level and the 100 level. No matter where you are in the arena, your fellow fans know hockey. They know the players, their lines, challenges (Hossa was just back from an injury and got a standing O every time he stepped onto the ice), rules and other nuances of this amazing game. It’s fun to listen to the analysis and rants and cheers and jeers from educated fans!
Did I mention there’s a vodka bar there?
We got lucky. Our game went to a 6-shooter shootout. Our guy Jonathan Toews got his!
Sadly, the Blackhawks lost, but it was a great game.
Just a few days later, we caught a ‘Hawks game on TV. We all stopped, and reminisced about waiting outside door 3 1/2, playing a penny game, the homeless (?) guy who hailed us a cab afterwards, the “joyful” people who came and sat by us later in the game, the goalie’s shootout stance and many other memories of our night at the Madhouse on Madison. And that is part of why I so adore sports. Our family will forever remember this incredible time together.