10 Things Chicago Blackhawks Fans Have Missed Most During NHL Lockout
Chicago Blackhawks fans miss their hockey team.
Fans have been craving hockey ever since their team was eliminated from the playoffs last season.
The NHL lockout has extended fans' agony, and it may not end anytime soon. Both the NHL and NHLPA are stalled on negotiations, and worse, both hold resentment towards the other side.
The lockout has already cost the Blackhawks 35 regular season games, and that number is expected to increase shortly.
With the NHL season delayed, many Blackhawks fans have voiced their displeasure over what they miss the most.
Gone, for now, are the raucous United Center crowds, the heated Blackhawks' rivalries and Chicago sightings of Patrick Kane. Fans will just have to do without these things until the lockout gets resolved.
These are the top 10 things Chicago Blackhawks fans have missed most during the lockout:
The Roar of the United Center
The Chicago Blackhawks have always had a loyal fan base; even if they were quiet for the better part of the last decade.
But now, the Blackhawks have a contending team. No longer "cellar dwellers," the Blackhawks find themselves making the playoffs with regularity.
Fans have come back in droves, and along with them the roar that pushes Blackhawks games to the next level.
The United Center has been nicknamed "The Madhouse on Madison," thanks in part to the large crowds and enthusiastic cheering.
It has become a tradition to clap and cheer loudly during the singing of the National Anthem. And come playoff time, the roar grows louder after each win.
The lockout has stifled that roar and the electricity that it brings to the city of Chicago. Fans sorely miss the ringing in their ears after each Blackhawks game.
Elite Play of Top 2 Lines
The Blackhawks are an elite NHL hockey team, so it would be fair to say that fans miss their elite skill up front.
Ranking in the top five in goals scored last season, the Blackhawks are known to play an aggressive style of hockey. Defense and goaltending may lack, but their offense has pulled out a win more times than not.
With the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Viktor Stalberg, the Blackhawks hold some top goal scorers on their first two lines.
Toews and Kane always work well together, eluding the opposition with perfect passes and a sniped shot off the stick of Sharp. Blackhawks fans gaze at the tricks these players can pull off.
It would also be fair to say that defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook help spark the top two lines. Making perfect passes out of their own defensive zone in order to start a fast rush up the ice.
Regardless, with no hockey to be played at the United Center, fans will have to go to YouTube to watch the Blackhawks take the ice.
The excitement and enthusiasm before rival games is always heightened for players and fans alike. A win against a hated team would go a long way in bragging rights when the season concludes.
But there is no season, no games, no rivalries right now; just a bunch of bitterness between the NHL and NHLPA. Not exactly the rivalry everyone was hoping for but the one that fans are stuck with for the time being.
The fans may trade insults among one another while the NHL is locked out but the real bragging rights belong on the ice.
Magic Moves by Jonathan Toews
Captain Jonathan Toews is more than just a leader on the ice, he is a talented hockey player that can put up some big numbers.
Fans have watched Toews tear up the opposition through a sheer determination that would make some hockey players give up before the game was over.
Through that determination and will, Toews has led the Blackhawks to the playoffs four times and won a Stanley Cup.
But what fans will miss the most, even more than his tenacity and hockey competitiveness, is his ability to deke other players on the ice. His ability to move through other players in order to reach the front of the net is usually accomplished by outworking the competition.
As seen in this video, Toews dekes three Colorado Avalanche players and the goaltender to put home a spectacular goal.
The Tenacity of Andrew Shaw
One of the greatest pleasures of being a fan, as of late, is watching forward Andrew Shaw develop into a great player.
Make no mistake, there are more than a few talented prospects on the Blackhawks who can make a difference; Andrew Shaw just shines brighter than all of them at the moment.
Shaw's aggressive style of play and unrelenting pursuit of the puck has opened up a big spot for him on the Blackhawks roster.
He's essentially everything a fan would want in a hockey player. What's even better, Shaw seems to be getting better each game he plays in for the 'Hawks. Shaw may be a long-term interest for the organization and a possible replacement for the great utility player that was Andrew Ladd.
Watching Players Develop in Key Roles
The Blackhawks have a bright future concerning depth on the team's roster.
Talented players such as Jeremy Morin, Jimmy Hayes, Brandon Saad, Brandon Pirri and Mark McNeil all have a shot of adding their abilities to a talented third and fourth line for the Blackhawks.
Some may be even more skilled to help on the first and second lines, but as of right now it will be a battle among these young players to secure an NHL spot.
Rockford Icehogs forward Ben Smith said that competition for a roster spot will always be a battle (via CSN Chicago):
In this lifestyle, you’re always fighting, always competing for something. Even here in Rockford you’re competing for power play, penalty kill and ice time. Being a hockey player, no matter where you are you have to bring your best. If not, someone’s trying to pass you. We want to be (in the NHL), that’s the goal. But have to bring compete and passion every day here.
Hayes will likely see regular time next season which will could also open the door for Saad.
Fans have the pleasure to watch all these talented hockey players battle for a spot on an already elite squad. It's never a bad thing to have too many good players; in the case of the Blackhawks, it's all about who can fill key roles.
Brandon Bollig Fighting
Brandon Bollig cracked the Blackhawks roster just last season, and his impact was surely felt.
While Bollig may not be the most skilled player on the ice, he most definitely is one of the toughest. That's what the Blackhawks could use right now, a player tough enough to defend his teammates when matters turn a little violent.
As an enforcer, Bollig was brought up after the team traded away John Scott to the New York Rangers.
Bollig has taken up fights with some other big name enforcers such as Jordin Tootoo, Ryan Reaves and Paul Bissonnette.
His ability to pick up the team and re-energize the players hasn't gone unnoticed by the fans. Bollig will most likely be a regular on the Blackhawks roster next season; whenever it is played.
One of the most exciting parts of the season is watching the Blackhawks fight for a playoff spot. If a playoff spot is all wrapped up, then they play for playoff positioning.
Watching your team make the playoffs while bringing them one step closer to hoisting the Stanley Cup—what more can a fan ask for?
The last few years for the Blackhawks have been challenging. Each year after winning the Stanley Cup the Blackhawks have failed to make it past the first round, and worse, they have failed to win the Central Division.
But there is optimism for stronger playoff pushes in the future. Young prospects are on the rise for the 'Hawks and teams in the Central division have been getting weaker.
The future is bright, but only if a new CBA agreement can be reached sometime in the next year.
Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk
The excitement of watching a Blackhawks game just isn't complete unless you have Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk calling the play on television.
Play-by-play announcer Pat Foley has been calling Blackhawks games since 1981 and is widely recognized as the "Voice of the Blackhawks." Color analyst Eddie Olczyk entered broadcasting in the early 2000's after having a successful career in the NHL.
Foley and Olczyk started calling Blackhawks games together in 2008, and ever since then the two have clicked with audiences.
Both share a chemistry that makes every Blackhawks' broadcast special regardless of the outcome of the game.
If you miss the Blackhawks, then you really miss Foley and Olczyk calling the games from the media booth.
The Blackhawks Winning
When it comes down to it, what Blackhawks fans miss most is watching their team skate off the ice after a victory.
Winning is essentially the reason why many fans tune into the games. It's the thrill of watching your team reach the playoffs and having a shot at the Stanley Cup.
It's the thrill of watching Patrick Kane score the overtime Stanley Cup winning goal in Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Blackhawks fans who have attended the games, bought merchandise and cheered on their favorite team deserve to see the NHL return and all the exciting action that it brings.
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