Monday, May 24, 2010

Hawks Win! Hawks Win!

Paraphrasing Pat Foley. Hawks Win!

I had the great fortune of attending the last two games at the United Center in which the Chicago Blackhawks played their way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Of course, for a pure Hawk fan, this is next to heaven so just a few passing comments.

The United Center is a great arena. There is really something special when you first get to your seat. You look up and see the championship banners hanging in the rafters and just have to marvel at the sight (Bulls banners also). Then there are the retired numbers. The greatest of the great that have played for this storied franchise.

Chicago fans are the greatest in the world, so it comes as no surprise that the arena erupts with pure joy and rapture when Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito or any other great Hawk of the past is waving to the crowd. Vince Vaughn, Dennis James and others at rink side, normal guys watching their team with the rest of us.

The game of course is the center of attention and the noise is beyond belief. Every shot, every hit and every move by the players is cheered or booed relentlessly. Hawks fans don't seem to quiet down when the team falls behind as most team's fans do.Tthey just start yelling louder urging the team to get to work. In the eyes of many, the Hawks are an extension of the city itself, a bunch of blue collar guys putting away their lunch buckets and finishing the job. The Hawks did that in spades yesterday.

However, their is something about going to a Hawks game that transcends the game itself. THE ANTHEM! Never in my life have I seen or been part of anything like the singing of the Anthem in Chicago. A few years ago, I was at the Cubs playoffs and Wayne Messmer did the anthem. Amazing how the folks at Wrigley responded. but sheer peanuts compared to the Hawks crowd.

The red carpet is rolled onto the ice. A service man and a WWII veteran is introduced to the crowd to be honored. Of course, the crowd is already going nuts as they come onto the ice. The applause doesn't stop but gets louder as the anthem is sung and the noise reaches deafening crescendos as the high notes are reached. But through it all, you hear the people singing the words! Unbelievable, but you actually hear it! You see the tears running down their faces as they honor our country. My wife had never been to a game before Friday. I turned to her as they reached the end of the anthem. The tears were running down her cheeks as she finished singing.

That moment,that experience itself was worth the price of admission. This wasn't just a hockey crowd and never has been there. Hawks fans wear their patriotism on their sleeves and I was never prouder of being a native Chicagoan then I am now.

Now, on to the finals!! Go Hawks!

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