At this time of year the term "bandwagon" gets thrown around by everyone. All of the sudden people like Scum a whole lot more. San Jose somehow has the same amount of fans than they did in 1996. And as a Blackhawks fan I'm accused of only cheering for them because they are good.
As a kid I grew up moving around Canada watching the Flames, the Jets, the Habs and every Canadian team. But because of my household I was first and foremost a Leafs fan. An insane one.
I remember crying when I was four because the Leafs got eliminated by Gretzky and the Kings. Felix Potvin was my idol (still is my favourite player). Sundin amazed me always, that is why during every game the only thing I drank was Sunny D (my family's nickname for him). I absolutely detested Daniel Alfredsson and the Sens like nothing else. I am convinced he is the dirtiest player in the leauge and no one else knows it. I even died my hair blue and shaved a Leaf in the back of my head for a Leafs road trip my uncle and father had planned for me and my brother. But as is tradition for the Leafs, I was left heart-broken year after year in the playoffs. In a no-salary cap league, how could the Leafs always fail when they had seemingly infinite resources?
After about 16 years of being a Leaf fan I'd had enough.
I remember how bad the Blackhawks were when I was growing up. I always made fun of them because they took all the good Leafs who were too old or past their prime. Sergei Berezin. Steve Sullivan. Steve Thomas. Wendel Clark. Even Doug Gilmour (it killed me to see him in anything but blue and white).
I thought about becoming Habs fan, but they are a) crazy (burning police cars? really?) and b) I was raised to hate them.
I've never liked Vancouver.
Ottawa are hellspawn.
Flames were just bad.
Edmonton is a shithole.
I decided to become a Blackhawks fan for these reasons:
4. Jonathan Toews
Watching the U-17 tournament in 2005 he was fucking great. In the World Juniors he was great. In his second World Juniors he was better. Like stupid good. His shootout showdown with Mueller was amazing. And it has continued to the NHL. He is easily one of best players in the league. And unlike someone like Ribiero or Pronger or any of those guys, he isn't a prick.
3. Original Six
I love the Original SIx. Each of those six teams has my respect (except the Rangers and Scum). Their fans, their arenas, their traditions and history are all incredible.
I've always owned a Blackhawks jersey. My grandfather gave me one when I was a little kid. There is no doubt in my mind that it is the best jersey in sports. The colours and the logo are completely un-rivaled.
1. They were Bad
The Leafs were bad. But not bad enough. They always made the playoffs and usually made it past the first round. Just enough to get my hopes up. But the Hawks were bad. The definition of bad. Bill Wirtz pretty much kept it that way.
In high-school I had a friend who was a Browns fan. He knew they sucked. But he had no problem with that.
The first year I followed the Blackhawks on a regular basis they finished 28th. But I loved it. They were everything the Leafs weren't.
I am a Blackhawks fan first and foremost. I know I haven't been for long, but I love this team more than the Leafs. If this makes me a bandwagoner, so be it. But if I am, it still doesn't make me any less of a fan.