There's been a lot of complaining and concerns about new fans in the United Center taking up valuable seats. I can't decide if I am one or not. I don't think I am, but others may think otherwise. Since it's an off day, I thought I'd share my story and let you decide.
I started following the team in the late 80's-early 90's when I was in high school. I only went to one game as a youth because my father, a season ticket holder in the 60's, still harbored ill feelings after the choke against Montreal in the Stanley Cup Finals. He gave in once and took me to a Flyers-Hawks game when I was 10 or 12.
I attended periodically during the early-mid 90's, typically just the playoffs in the early 90's when I wasn't even in town until May due to college in Flyer country. After college, I'd attend 1-3 games a year during the mid-late 90's as my budget allowed, watching most of the road games on television. In the late 90's and 2000's, I stopped paying to go because I had a job situation that allowed me to get paid to go the games. I'd typically go to 8-10 games a year that way, but never felt the need to go more often because the team was down and, for a lot of those years, they were not particularly entertaining. If I didn't have that job, I probably would have paid to go 1-2 times a year...maybe. I'd still watch the road games on TV but it was not destination viewing by any measure.
Two years ago, around the holidays, the Blackhawks offered a holiday pack...buy a five-game package, get a free autographed puck and be guaranteed the rights to purchase seats for the playoffs (which, we know, they came close to making but didn't). I told the wife that was what I wanted for the holidays that year. The team was doing well and the chance to lock in the playoffs if they did catch fire was too much to pass up. I went to 4 of the 5 games and had a blast.
The summer afterwards, a buddy and I decided to get the full season package ($27 seats) under the assumption that the Winter Classic was going to be here and the fact that the team was on the rise. The buddy was one I would typically go to games with in the 90's. We bought about a month before the Classic was announced, splitting the tickets 50-50. And, of course, we renewed this year, and will probably continue to do so for a long time to come.
So...I rarely paid to see the team during their bad stretch and yes, the impetus for my ticket purchase was not only enjoyment of the team, but yes, the chance to go to the "event". Those things make me smack of a bandwagon jumper.
However, the red sweater I wear to the game was a CCM authentic, purchased when I was in high school (and never personalized, for fear I'd get someone like Chelios who turned out to be a traitor), I never yell "Shooooooot", and I don't even drink at the games because I'm paying to see and enjoy hockey and don't want the alcohol to cloud my analysis of the game (or, more importantly, send me to the bathroom too often with wimp-ass kidneys). The beer is saved for home viewing...sometimes. I can name everyone on the team. And yes, I buy the Indian (and bought the Blue Line back in the day).
So...am I a loathed bandwagon jumper? Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. But I do wait for the whistle.