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OK, I think they finally got me

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* For years, I have staunchly resisted the urge to jump on the Chicago Blackhawks bandwagon.

I played football, baseball and basketball and skied while in school. I knew those sports back and forth and have always thoroughly enjoyed them. I also attended Golden Gloves matches when my family lived in Utah for a couple of years, which got me interested in boxing.

I knew nothing about hockey - at all. I could never skate worth a darn, either. I have watched precisely one NHL game in person my entire life. I liked it, but it was in St. Louis, so I didn’t take it too seriously. Until recently, I’d never watched an entire NHL game on TV. It just didn’t do anything for me.

So, to all of a sudden become a Blackhawks fan just because they were winning seemed a bit distasteful - even wrong - to me.

* But this playoff series with St. Louis got me hooked, man. I even managed to figure out some of the rules that had previously eluded me. And because the Hawks lost, I think I’m now cleared to consider jumping aboard the ol’ bandwagon.



  1. - Commander Norton - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:27 am:

    Welcome! We’re fine with hockey virgins - as long as you don’t mock the playoff beards.

  2. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:28 am:

    ===as long as you don’t mock the playoff beards===

    I have a playoff beard year-round. lol

  3. - Coach Q's Moustache - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:37 am:

    Welcome aboard! Just remember that you have 1 opportunity to mispronounce Toews then you are out of the organization.

  4. - RunBikeSwim - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:37 am:

    As much as I love the Hawks - I love taking some time out and going to a minor league game (QC, Bloomington, etc.) and enjoying the game. Close to the action, cheap tix, and not awful priced brews. If you get a chance Rich, go see a game! You’ll learn alot!

  5. - @MisterJayEm - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:43 am:


    Start here:

    – MrJM

  6. - Dave Dahl - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:44 am:


    As well as to mispronounce “organization”

  7. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:45 am:

    It was an instant-classic series. Hats off to the Blues, they won it fair and square.

    But, geez, I’ve never seen a puck hit both posts and not go in. That seems to be beyond the law of physics.

    Recommendations? Keep watching, especially the playoffs, if your ticker can handle it (I’ve had doubts as to whether mine could over the years). It’s so intense and immensely entertaining.

    And get to the Madhouse for a game. It’s so much better in person, when you can see the whole ice and all the action away from the puck. That’s where the magic is.

    Like the Great One said, “skate to where the puck will be, not where it’s at.”

    The Blackhawks core is still young and exceptionally talented. They’ll be back.

    Their success has been remarkable given the hard salary cap in the NHL. They’ve lost a lost of great players in recent years. The NHL’s, like the NFL’s, business model discourages dynasties.

    Plus, a lot of miles on those core Hawks players since the first Cup. Deep in the playoffs every year, plus two Olympics.

    Fresh legs for next year. Every other year or so for the Cup seems to be the pattern.

  8. - Stones - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:47 am:

    I used to watch the Blackhawks growing up when Keith Magnuson, Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Tony Esposito were the stars of the team. When Bill Wirtz refused to show home games on TV the organization lost me. It wasn’t until his son Rocky took over that I started getting interested again. I say welcome to the bandwagon and enjoy the ride!

  9. - Independent Retired Lawyer Journalist - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:48 am:

    I’m with you, Rich. I’ve long considered the NHL to be bad boxing on skates. But the Blackhawks’ recent run has drawn me in. At least during the playoffs.
    But I still don’t understand icing…or the offsides rule…or why six players can stand in the crease at once, blocking the goalie’s vision…or why the league claims it’s against fighting, but winks at it while they’re glorifying it…

  10. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:49 am:

    Try to gain at least a simple understanding of the crazy NHL salary cap. If you don’t, the offseason (and some in season) moves will drive you crazy. It will also make you appreciate even more the sustained success the Hawks have had the last 7 years.

  11. - pool boy - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:50 am:

    Just enjoy the action. If you want some minimal knowledge learn the blue and red lines,the crease, the three zones,icing and offside.

  12. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:56 am:

    Welcome to the big time Rich!

    Before it was cool and everyone was moving to Wrigleyville, before the 85 Bears, before the Jordan Era and 2005 White Sox the Hawks were THE team in Chicago. It seems like Rocky Wirtz has got them back on top!

  13. - Barton Lorimor - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:57 am:

    I thought you were only supposed to support winning teams? :P

    I decided to hop onto the Hawks bandwagon after they won their second cup. I posted something on Facebook congratulating the Hawks, and instantly received received three text messages from STL fans that made the whole thing about the Cubs.

    If that’s how they play in STL, I’m pro-Hawks.

  14. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:01 am:

    Just listen to every game that Doc and Eddie call. Doc’s playoff calls are high-speed poetry and just immensely exciting, even if you don’t have dog in the fight. Eddie can break down a play in a way that makes novice fans (such as myself) appreciate what is happening on the ice away from the puck.

  15. - Former Hoosier - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:01 am:

    Get to the stadium and hear the goal horn in person. You (and your ears) won’t forget it! To prime yourself for that, take a listen to it now…

  16. - Rayne of Terror - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:02 am:

    I agree with RunBikeSwim. Attending Bloomington Thunder games has taught me more about hockey and made me enjoy hockey so much more than watching NHL on tv. Often $10 will get you a center ice ticket only a few rows back from the glass.

  17. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:03 am:

    Treat the whole NHL like a soap opera.

    There are always side stories…

    Original 6

    The New York teams

    Pittsburgh - Philly rivaly

    The many rivalries themselves…

    Treat being a Hawks fan in that manner.

    There’s the Red Wings, or Vancouver, or in the past San Jose, then the Blues rivaly, the Wild history… embrace the nuances of the soap opera, then being a hockey fan gets real easy.

  18. - PlayK8 - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:04 am:

    The very first thing you should do is watch ‘Slap Shot’.

  19. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:04 am:

    I am a newer hockey fan. Here is what I did until this year. I got the NHL gamecenter subscription. I could watch any game in the league realtime except for the ones in my market which were 2 days later. I visited the hockey blogs/sites daily learning about great games or plays then I would go and watch them on game center. I already knew the outcome but that wasn’t the point. I was learning the game. Last year when the Blues clutched again, I gave up on them and dropped my subscription in disgust. I didn’t start watching them again until a few days ago. I actually just listened to the 3rd quarter on the radio.

    NOW I’M BACK. LET’S GO BLUES!!!!!!!!!!

    I also like the Hawks, San Jose Sharks, the Washington Capitols. I just enjoy good hockey from watching so many games and great plays.

    Enjoy the game Rich. It’s a lot of fun. Let me know next year if you want to go to a Blues game. I’ll host you. You can even wear your Hawks Jersey since my older teen will be wearing her Hawks jersey too. We’ll take the metro over from Illinois and lots of folks will be in red.

  20. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:05 am:

    “And because the Hawks lost, I think I’m now cleared to consider jumping aboard the ol’ bandwagon.”

    Of course. Everyone is invited to join the Blues bandwagon.

  21. - Amalia - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:07 am:

    get yourself a sweater. you will not regret it. I recommend one in red. mine is a Kaner.

  22. - The Captain - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:08 am:

    Playoff hockey will kill you, easily has taken ten years off my life. When the playoffs start however much of the hard stuff you think you’ll need to stock it won’t be enough. Try not to have anything you can throw within arms reach and even then try not to throw it at anything expensive. Pre-apologizing to your loved ones doesn’t work, you still have to apologize after too. And when you finally do become a full-blown fan there will be another lockout, sorry but that’s hockey.

  23. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:09 am:

    Welcome to the party, Rich (well for next year now anyway).
    Good person if you really want to learn about the business of hockey and the league is Barry Rozner at the Herald. He is the best at it.
    Also, Steve Rosenbloom at the Tribune.

  24. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:09 am:

    Yes. One more thing.

    Hockey has sweaters, not jerseys.

    “Abrasive Hockey Fan” will go chapter and verse on this nuance and make you feel unwelcome. “Abrasive Hockey Fan” doesn’t represent all us fans, that also needs to be noted.

    Sweater… not jersey.

  25. - Dozer - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:10 am:

    D Stars…Couple of former Hawks (Sharp and Oduya), they’re essentially the Hawks Texas style. Very similar style to the Hawks, speed, passing, puck control and tons of talent.

  26. - Springfieldish - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:12 am:

    Today hockey is leaner, faster and with far less fisticuffs than even 10 years ago. I loved it then, love it even more now.

    Recommendations? You gotta see a game at the UC. Every NHL player reacts to the start of games at the UC. The noise when the anthem is sung is unprecedented, chilling, sustained and totally awe-inspiring.

    Also, have a few beers and watch ‘Slapshot.’

    Wife’s from southeastern Illinois where they don’t know hockey from nothin’. This morning she woke up, sighed, and asked when the pre-season starts. She’ll spend the summer pining away for Pat Foley’s voice. I’m a blessed man.

  27. - Concerned - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:13 am:

    It is correctly pronounced “organ-I-zation!”

    I concur with many of the posters above. Doc Emerick and Pat Foley are both worth listening to, but nothing beats the in-person experience. And get a Hossa jersey to wear to games. That man plays the game the right way. I would pay money just to watch him backcheck.

    Welcome to the bandwagon (we all jump on at some point, for me it was 1965).

  28. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:13 am:

    ===watch ‘Slap Shot’.===

    I’ve seen it a dozen times. It’s the only thing about hockey that I’ve ever liked until now.


  29. - Gooner - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:14 am:

    The Blackhawks still are too much of a quality team for you to jump on the bandwagon. You need to go through the rough years to really enjoy success.

    Which is why I recommend that you forget about hockey and turn your attention to the BPL, and in particular, Arsenal.

    You need to back a team currently run by the likes of Stan Kroenke and managed by a guy who once had a team go through a season without a loss and who have been living on the merits of that season for over ten years.

    You need to get aboard the Arsenal bandwagon now. Eventually, they will take off and you can say you were there when they were finishing fourth. Again.

  30. - Welcome - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:14 am:

    Just remember that in hockey, organization is pronounced as or-gan-I-za-tion. You need to stress the I in the middle. As long as you know that, you are all good.

  31. - A Modest Proposal - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:16 am:

    All Hawks fans are somewhat bangwagon fans through no fault of their own. Bill Wirtz didn’t let us appreciate the team back in the 90s and early 2000s. Rocky allowed the fans to access the team. I got interested in 08-09.

  32. - Gooner - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:17 am:

    Answering further –

    If you do join the bandwagon, Concerned is on the right track. However, instead of a Hossa, pay tribute to the great days of the organization and find an Al Secord jersey. That would be a great reminder that even in the darkest days, there are players with the guts to make the game worth watching.

  33. - A guy - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:19 am:

    These are the most approachable athletes in the pros, and the fans are the most accepting of newcomers. They know how to open the gate on the bandwagon. Score.

  34. - BC - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:21 am:

    Rich, you really have to see a game in person to fully appreciate the sport. TV, even with a 60-inch HD screen, does not do hockey justice. And when you go to a game, don’t sit near the glass. It’s fun to be that close to the action, but you can’t really see plays develop. The first few rows of the second deck provide the best vantage point if you really want to get an understanding of how the game is played. For instance, last night you would have noticed the key play of the game: the Hawks least skilled defenseman, Erik Gustafson, foolishly trying to stick handle around a check at the red line instead of safely banking the puck off the board into the Blues’ zone. He turned it over and five seconds later the Blues scored the winning goal.

  35. - Arsenal - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:22 am:

    Always more room in the Madhouse. Welcome.

    ” They’ve lost a lost of great players in recent years.”

    No kidding. You’ve got a playoff caliber team in just the people they’ve cut for cap space.

  36. - Levois - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:23 am:

    I think now is the time to start lobbying for a minor league hockey team in Springfield. That is assuming there isn’t one down there already.

  37. - Me too - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:24 am:

    As a Blues fan, one think I agree with Hawks fans: I hate the Redwings something fierce.

  38. - Just saying... - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:28 am:

    Welcome to the best Hockey organIzation in the NHL! One word of warning…NEVER turn into a Blues fan…it’s almost as fatal as switching your Chicago north/south side loyalties :)

  39. - Me too - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:33 am:

    One thing that is.

  40. - Me too - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:35 am:

    Real Blues fans don’t say, “there’s always next season”, instead they swear off hockey forever, but change their mind come preseason. It is a viscous cycle.

  41. - Jose Abreu's next homer - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:35 am:

    I played baseball, have Bears season tickets, consider the Michael Jordan era my childhood, but watching hockey live in person is the best sports experience. I’ve been on skates maybe two dozen times, so I don’t know all the rules and plays, but every time I ask myself “what are they waiting for” I get my answer about 4 seconds later when the action takes off. Thankfully goons are being taken out of the game. Great athletes from across the globe on ice.

  42. - A guy - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:37 am:

    BTW, if you’re going to take a day off, you must say you won’t be “dressing for today’s blog”.

  43. - Amalia - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:37 am:

    @Gooner, I’m hoping for top 4 for Arsenal. Manch United is on a tear so this is beginning to get uncomfortable, though the schadenfreude of watching Tottenham draw with WBA was amazing! for more Arsenal pain, Men In Blazers from last night was very fun, Jamie Bell is a Gooner. Come on Rich, pick Arsenal!

    now for Bundesliga……..

  44. - Todd - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:39 am:


  45. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:39 am:

    LOL Was having a good morning until someone brought up Arsenal.

    They’re the ghost of Blackhawks’ future. Talent, magic, remembrance of glory past, finish fourth.

    Bobby Hull. Gloves dropped.

  46. - Gooner - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:41 am:

    Todd’s suggestion is not bad. NASCAR has some good racing.

    Not as good as Formula One, but still, not bad.

  47. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:48 am:

    Grew up a Hawks fan. My brothers and I decorated our rooms with pictures of Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito, Keith Magnuson…

    You will know you are a full-fledged fan when you can listen on the radio and visualize the action on the ice.

    Get a real sweater; they are very warm (the $50 knockoffs are not as comfortable or warm).

    Go to a Rockford Ice Hogs game. Hawks farm team, good players, many show up on Hawks ice. I really like watching the Ice Hogs play the Chicago Wolves in Rosemont, but at the Rockford venue you can usually get good seats close to the ice.

  48. - ToddAF - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:11 pm:

    Memorize this chant…DEE TROIT SUCKS! DEE TROIT SUCKS!

  49. - Amalia - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:14 pm:

    @Gooner, Formula One, after all, Lewis Hamilton IS an Arsenal fan!

  50. - Harry - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:15 pm:

    Climb aboard, it’s the best pro game out there, and since Rocky took over, following the Hawks has been satisfying–tho, if as a Springfield person you follow the Blues, that’s OK, too.

  51. - WIUoblivion - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:19 pm:

    Welcome to The Game, Rich — where character, team, grit, and sacrifice still matter. All were on display during the Hawks-Blues series.

    Playing The Game in college (and loving every second of it) taught me the three basic rules of life: Keep your head up, your knees bent, and your stick on the ice.

  52. - CEA - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:25 pm:

    Welcome to the dark side! The preseason starts in September…

  53. - Keyser Soze - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:37 pm:

    Hockey was always a game that you needed to see in person in order to appreciate its speed and intensity. Flat panel TV’s have changed that. Saw last night’s game in a packed sports bar over a huge screen. The place was buzzing….almost like being there.

  54. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:38 pm:

    “Slap Shot” putting on the foil coach

  55. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:53 pm:

    The only sport I will watch. Probably because I started playing at 5 years old and played through college. There are only a few simple rules you need to learn. Icing and offsides are the majority of the whistles in the game. The other whistles are penalties and usually they are pretty obvious. After a while you learn to follow the play on TV.

  56. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:53 pm:


    Yeah, hours of continuous left turns and tire changes. Can barely contain myself from the excitement.

  57. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:53 pm:

    “I have watched precisely one NHL game in person my entire life. I liked it, but it was in St. Louis, so I didn’t take it too seriously.”

    Well you certainly have the necessary attitude down already. :)

  58. - Wading in... - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:55 pm:

    To me, hockey puts other sports in context. For example, a right fielder in baseball is most likely gonna stand there and do nothing the entire game. Ain’t nobody standing around doing nothing in a hockey game. Other sports are OK, but they ain’t HOCKEY!

  59. - Skeptic - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:18 pm:

    Odd, what happened to my post? It wasn’t the least bit offensive?

  60. - Skeptic - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:22 pm:

    “I think now is the time to start lobbying for a minor league hockey team in Springfield. That is assuming there isn’t one down there already.” We have the Jr. Blues (not affliated with the NHL team.) 16 to 21 yr old Tier 2 Junior A. Like Bloomington and QC, good hockey for not a lot of money. You might even see a future NHL’er there too.

    Rich: I’d be happy to teach you the rules. I can get you Jr. Blues tix some day.

    And it’s never too late to learn to play. I know the group in Springfield is about as welcoming to new players as there is anywhere.

  61. - saab - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:26 pm:

    meh, the whole “bandwagon shaming” thing has totally run it’s course. I was a lifelong Blackhawks fan and hockey player in my youth, and yes, I thought it was obnoxious for the first few years. But the Hawks have officially cemented themselves as a salary cap-era dynasty, and this began around 2008- 8 years ago at this point!

    So I completely reversed my position on the bandwagon thing around the second Cup. It’s great that they continue to attract fans.

    Watch any YouTube docs on Bobby Orr or Mario Lemiuex. Two of the greats, right there with Gretzky.

  62. - Bogey Golfer - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:28 pm:

    Unlike other sports, hockey fans watch the game. No “let’s sit and chat”, no “hey let’s mingle by the beer stand”. There’s two intermissions to shoot the breeze and get a cold one.

  63. - Bogey Golfer - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:29 pm:

    Also I think the Peoria Rivermen are still in their playoffs.

  64. - ChrisB - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:40 pm:

    Make sure you make it to a game in time for the National Anthem and try not to shed a tear when Jim Cornelison sings it.

    It’s damn near impossible.

  65. - Fairness and Fairness Only - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:48 pm:

    Welcome to hockey. Let’s go Blues!

  66. - Slick Willy - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:55 pm:

    Welcome to the show. Met some of my best friends watching the Wings and the Hawks duke it out during the playoffs. They root for the Hawks, but I still love ‘em. We even coined the phrase, “the only thing better than playoff hockey is overtime playoff hockey”.

  67. - a drop in - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 3:08 pm:

    Just remember, nothing is like sudden death overtime. Please get a note from your doctor before watching.

  68. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 3:10 pm:

    I am trying to get a couple thousand tickets for that outdoor game next year down in the Loo. Is scalping legal down there or is that just reserved for the likes of Kroenke ?

  69. - Double Nickel - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 3:21 pm:

    A couple other rules. All injuries are either upper body or lower body injuries. Face painting is allowed as well. After all, you gotta support your team.

  70. - Robert Lincoln - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 3:38 pm:

    After a season is over, I’m always amazed when they detail the injuries they players played through. These injuries would put other sports players out for the season. I became a lifelong Duncan Keith fan after watching him lose 7 teeth in a game and come back to play 10 minutes later.

  71. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 4:03 pm:

    Oh super important thing about jerseys/sweaters ( I would like for the court to consider the NHL online shop calls them jerseys)

    THEY RUN LARGE!!!!!!! I wear a small. I am not a small in real life. I wear an XL in unisex t-shirt sizing. I mean really you think Honeybear is about my disposition? So try one on at a game and get the size that fits. I bought several of them on Ebay with players that had left the team. I don’t live in that city so who cares. I wore a Caps jersey to Buffalo Wild Wings when they were playing one night. I’ve also got a Flyers, Bruins,and Hawks jerseys this way. My Blues jersey has Elliot which I ordered from the online store.

  72. - Adolfo - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 5:11 pm:

    Jump on the Blues bandwagon. 50-year anniversary is next year. No Cup yet but the future’s so bright they have to wear visors.
    Very entertaining team.
    And the players are the bravest, most athletic and smartest — all that geometry.

  73. - Adolfo - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 5:11 pm:

    Jump on the Blues bandwagon. 50-year anniversary is next year. No Cup yet but the future’s so bright they have to wear visors.
    Very entertaining team.
    And the NHL players are the bravest, most athletic and smartest — all that geometry.

  74. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 6:53 pm:

    Me too! First time I watched hockey on TV was the first of the series and I was glued for seven straight games! LGB!!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Isabel’s afternoon briefing
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* Following the money
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