January 01, 2009

Winter Classic

I've never really been a hockey fan.  Oh, sure, I lived in Chicago growing up and was at least slightly aware of the Blackhawks, and the two years I spent attending grad school were up in Minnesota, but the sport didn't really interest me much.  So, while I'm not a hockey fan, I do know a little bit about the sport's history in Chicago... the 'Hawks are an Original Six team, for pete's sake!  I like the uniforms ("sweaters" in the sport's parlance), and the Blackhawks' in particular is a classic of sports merchandise.

Almost 10 years ago, I attended my first hockey game, as my girlfriend at the time was a fan of the Chicago Wolves.  It was a great time, and part of me wished I had been exposed to the sport more growing up.  These days Duckford has a professional team of its own, the IceHogs, which are a 'minor league' team of the Blackhawks.  But I can't get very into the sport.

In recent memory, the 'Hawks have been not only bad, but the team owner Bill Wirtz refused to put their games on television, short of the nationally televised games on ESPN they were scheduled for (or whatever... I'm really not a hockey fan).  As a result, the only way you could see them play was to actually attend a game.  Hardcore fans did that, of course, but people who might become fans couldn't just flip on the TV and catch a game... like you can do with just about every other sport in the history of the world.  However, last year Bill Wirtz died,  and his son, Rocky, went about changing the public's opinion of the Blackhawks.  The games are now on TV, and he brought in John McDonough, who once was the President of Chicago Cubs and a great marketing mind, to run the team.  As a result, the 'Hawks are the hottest ticket in Chicago... it doesn't hurt that they're a pretty good young team, too.

Today, the 'Hawks were on the national stage: the NHL's annual event called 'The Winter Classic.'  The game, against the Detroit Red Wings, was played outdoors... at Wrigley Field, no less!  While they lost, 6-4, the 'Hawks put on a helluva show.  Particularly the pregame stuff... and specifically the National Anthem.  Here, take a look:

The good part comes at the six-minute mark, when Jim Corneliusen sings The Star-Spangled Banner.  The crowd, as it always does at Blackhawks games, goes completely insane... which reminded me of back when the Blackhawks played at the old Chicago Stadium.  Cramped, smelly, but with a pipe-organ many churches would be envious of... and Chicago legend Wayne Messmer singing.  The following is from the 1991 playoffs, before Wayne was shot in the throat:

Now THAT is how you sing an Anthem, ladies and gentlemen.  His 1991 NHL all-star game performance is pretty darn good, too (but meh sound quality).  That one took place just a few days before the ground portion of Operation Desert Storm began, so you can imagine the fervor of the crowd... it sure put Whitney Houston's rendition at the SuperBowl to shame.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:35 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 Dammit, now you're really making me want to go back out on the ice to play again.  Not that anything but physical condition really stops me; I had impingement syndrome in my right shoulder a few years ago that I had to take half a year to fully heal from, and I just haven't been back to play since.

I really need to exercise more to get in much better shape so I don't just go out and play pickup hockey "cold" and get myself hurt... again...

I mean, I'm not going to be in my twenties anymore in 6 months and 6 says.

Posted by: Nick at January 02, 2009 12:43 AM (7fWEE)

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