The calendar has finally flipped to October, indicating the beginning of the NHL regular season. While it has certainly been an eventful (cough cough) off-season here in Chicago, October 7th signifies both an end as well as a beginning. At about 7:00 P.M. that evening at the United Center, the Chicago Blackhawks will raise the 2015 Stanley Cup Championship Banner to much fanfare. The video montage will no doubt be awesome, the speeches emotional, and the Captain’s victory lap glorious. This will be the last chance to celebrate the year that ended in Championship number 6.
Then at about 7:30, the puck will drop as they take on the New York Rangers. The instant that puck hits ice for the first face-off, the success of the 2014-2015 matters no more. It is a fresh start, for both returning and new team members. Every other team in the league will be gunning for the Blackhawks, either for revenge (Nashville, Minnesota, Anaheim, Tampa), or to use as a measuring stick (especially St. Louis, Nashville, St. Louis, Nashville). Did I say St. Louis and Nashville?
Another night of being able to rub in a @StLouisBlues win over the Blackhawks to my Chi-Town friends and I've never been happier
— Kaitlin Wickenheiser (@kwickay) April 10, 2015
— Crystal (@Cshellntn) September 18, 2015
If the 2013-2014 season was any indication (yep those darn Blackhawks won it in 2013 remember?), every game will be a little more physical, every stadium a little more packed and every game a little more meaningful, if (but not likely) “their” team beats the Blackhawks. I say bring it. We Blackhawks fans understand and are flattered by the extra attention. That’s what comes with One Goal Achieved three times in six years. All I ask is that as fans embark on the hunt, you all keep it classy.
Oh I recognize that some of my Blackhawks sisters and brothers are, shall we say, less than polished in matters of thought. To those of you proudly supporting Chief Blackhawk, I humbly ask that you “Respect the Indian” (Savard!). Please refrain from foul language and vile attacks/threats on those who dare disagree on how much better Toews is than Crosby (not even close – it’s Tazer all the way!). Instead a bit of advice: Speak slower and use smaller words, especially with Blues and Preds fans ;-)
As for the rest of you diehards supporting the teams who want what we have: I humbly ask that you welcome us with open arms, or at least unclenched fists, as we visit your stadiums. Do not throw beers at us (at $8 to $10 what are you thinking?) or ban us from purchasing tickets to your venue. We love visiting and spending lots of money (Nashville and Tampa are you listening?), and enjoy the stimulating and robust conversations about why we uhm “stink” (ahem). Should your beloved team prevail, there is no need to rub it in and taunt. Save that for when you have a banner of your own to raise.
So, as The Hunt for Red Hawktober Begins (Again!), I leave you with this prayer: Dear Hockey Gods, may all the games be fair and well-played. May sportsmanship shine both on and off the ice. May every game be the greatest game of the greatest sport ever known. Most importantly, may no harm come to any player, coach, ref, or fan — even Pierre.
Rick is fortunate to live off the I-90 hockey corridor where both his beloved Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs (aka Baby Hawks) call home. Hockey has been in his blood since the early 1970’s when he saw his first Blackhawks game at the “Old Barn”. His favorite player is Keith Magnuson followed closely by Bobby Hull (old school!). When not covering the greatest sport, he enjoys watching live music and has even been known to join his beloved bands on stage for a song or two. Follow Rick on Twitter via @HawksStrength