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Blackhawks remember when nobody came

May 20, 2010, 5:30 PM EDT

UnitedCenter.jpgESPN’s Pierre LeBrun has
a great article
up this afternoon on the Chicago Blackhawks and the
incredible atmosphere present at their home games. He talked with
Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, the original members of
the current team and who were around in 2005 when things just a
bit….different.

It’s easy to forget that despite leading the NHL
in attendance the past two seasons, the Blackhawks had perennially been
at the bottom of the NHL in average attendance. It didn’t help that the
Hawks were a poor team in a rebuilding mode, whom local fans were
completely unable to watch on local television.

Now there’s 21,000
at every game, the crowd goes nuts during the anthem, and the team is
setting all sorts of television viewership records.

Patrick Sharp
looks back on how it used to be:

“I remember my first game. There were 9,000 people and they announced
12,000,” Sharp said. “Times have changed, big time. A lot of new faces
in the room, but there’s a few guys that have witnessed it. We remember
what it was like, and that’s why we’re pushing even harder to keep it
like this.”

As for that national anthem? Well, at least the players love it:

Madden cannot believe what it’s like at the United Center during the
anthem.

“The national anthem [here] is, in my opinion, the
best national anthem in sports,” the Toronto native said. “If you don’t
get your blood pumping and your pulse racing after that …” 

There’s going to be an incredibly boisterous crowd tomorrow night as the Hawks hope to extend their lead to 3-0 in their series against the San Jose Sharks. There’s no doubt that success brings the fans, but it’s incredible to think that just a few years ago nobody was even watching this team play.

  1. Little Tommy - May 21, 2010 at 6:23 AM

    That’s because old man Wirtz, for whatever reason, chose to keep his team the best kept secret in the NHL. Heaven forbid he should televise a game as it would hurt his gate! We can see what a great move that was. Anyway, son Rocky has a bit of an enlightened approach and you can see the payoff!

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