What do Blackhawks fans and 2nd graders have in common? Apparently, neither existed before 2007.
I heard this joke the other night and was almost stunned when I heard it. From what I’ve heard, the common consensus outside of Chicago is that the Chicago Blackhawks have a bandwagon following.
What’s even more apparent, however, is that Chicago Blackhawks fans are grossly misunderstood. What many outside critics probably don’t know, or simply didn’t take the time to find out, is that there was a time when the team owners essentially shunned the bulk of their fanbase.
In an effort to put more fans in the stands, former owner Bill Wirtz made a business decision that did quite the opposite.
Until 2007, Wirtz (derisively known as “Dollar Bill”) didn’t allow Blackhawks home games to be televised in the Chicago area, claiming it was unfair to the team’s season ticket holders. He also raised ticket prices to an average of $50, amongst the most expensive in the NHL (I wonder if he thought that was unfair to season ticket holders).
Nonetheless, it was a dark era for the Chicago Blackhawks. Thanks to the greediness of their former owner, the Hawks were eventually named the “Worst Franchise In Sports” by ESPN. But that was then, and this is now.
Since taking over for his dad, Rocky Wirtz has revitalized hockey in Chicago. He made the tough decisions to fix the team’s mistakes. And most of all, he acknowledged that you need to spend money to make money.
In 2006, the Blackhawks drafted Jonathan Toews.
In 2007, they drafted Patrick Kane.
Both made their rookie debuts in the next season, and both competed for the Calder Memorial Trophy (award given to the NHL’s most valuable best rookie).
Seven seasons later, Kane and Toews have won a combined six Stanley Cups and both have hoisted Conn Smythe trophies in that timespan. Since I’ve been alive, the game of hockey hasn’t seen superstars of this caliber or popularity.
Parades. Charities. Sports cars.
You name it. Over the last eight years, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have done it.
So tell me this, what kind of city wouldn’t go crazy for these two? And while we’re at it, tell me what kind of professional sports team would win three championships in six years, and not rapidly expand its fanbase?
While you think about that, I’ll make my closing remarks.
If you truly believe that the Chicago Blackhawks have a bandwagon fanbase, then you’re wrong.
During the 2008–09 season (the year before Kane & Toews won their first cup), the team was already leading the NHL in home attendance with an average of 22,247 fans per game. Chicago is not a place domineered by the success of their sports teams, it’s a place inspired by the stories behind them.
Considering the franchise’s not-so-long-ago dark past (and the fact they’re one of the NHL’s original six teams), the hate against the Blackhawks on Twitter is startling. And, somewhat laughable.
Here’s an obvious example from a certain St. Louis sports fan:
— Justin Dubya (@justin03) December 3, 2014
Haha, that’s hilarious. Especially because no hockey player has ever made that face when they realize they’re playing the St. Louis fucking Blues tonight.
I’ve never made that face. And personally, I think the meme below would be a lot more accurate.
If you truly believe that the Chicago Blackhawks have a bandwagon fanbase, then I have some news for you.
We don’t care.
We don’t care if you get #LoveToHateBlackhawks trending on Twitter. And we don’t care if you think we didn’t have fans before 2007 (because we did).
Chicago knows that everybody hates the winner. I mean hell, it’s why we hate Lebron James so much.
We don’t care if you hate us. And we don’t care if you make fun of us on Twitter.
After all, we’re the ones with the Stanley Cup.
A Homer Piece Of Shit
What do Blackhawks fans and 2nd graders have in common? Neither of them existed before 2007! #LoveToHateBlackhawks
— Mark F. (@mfuery38) December 3, 2014