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Why I'm a Chicago Blackhawks fan: Family ties

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It was never a choice.

Tony Amonte #10...

Welcome to the refreshed Second City Hockey! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!

My tale about why I support the Chicago Blackhawks is similar to why most people support any sports team — family. Specifically, my uncle on my mother’s side. Every team I’m a fan of is linked to family and he’s the primary reason I became a hockey fan.

The Hawks have always been a part of my life and have been linked with him. Christmas and birthday presents (only separated by seven days) normally had some Hawks element to them whether it be a bobblehead or a signed puck. He even took me to a Stan Mikita book signing. If I didn’t catch the highlights from the game my grandfather, who lived next door, had The Daily Herald, so I could read Tim Sassone’s story and check out the box score.

Growing up I went to a few games in the 300 section with my uncle. In the late 1990s you ended up down by the glass at the start of the second period because hardly anyone was there. I also went to my share of Chicago Wolves games and watched them on CLTV. Aside from Hawks players, my favorite players growing up were Colorado’s Peter Forsberg and the Wolves’ Steve Maltais.

My parents even signed me up for skating lessons after I said I wanted to be a hockey player like Tony Amonte. Those lessons were short lived at Fox Valley Ice Arena, but I did get to see Craig Anderson and John Scott play for the NAHL’s Chicago Freeze there.

The 2007-08 Hawks’ season is one I’ll never forget. I made a point to tune in to all the games I could as the Hawks were fighting for a playoff spot for the first time since 2002 (we won’t speak of how that season ended). They ended up missing the postseason by three points in 2008, but I knew with only a few moves they’d make the playoffs the next year. And they did by signing then-free agent defenseman Brian Campbell and goaltender Cristobal Huet.

The Hawks made the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs and everyone knew they’d have to go through Detroit to get to the Stanley Cup Final. After back-to-back seasons of the Chicago Cubs crapping the bed in the first round, all I wanted was one series win from the Hawks. I’d be happy with it. The Hawks took down the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks in six games. They then were shut down by, of course, the defending champions in Detroit.

Fast forward to the offseason, specifically July 1, 2009, the day Marian Hossa signed with Chicago. The guy who was on the wrong side of the Cup Final the past two seasons came to the Windy City. The third time had to be the charm, right?

Optimism was at an all-time high heading into the 2009-10 season, despite losing leading scorer Martin Havlat to Minnesota on the same day as Hossa’s signing. I knew this team could make it back to the conference final, but didn’t think they could get past Detroit until Oct. 12 when they came back from 5-0 to defeat Calgary in overtime. Most Hawks fans will agree that was the turning point in this era of Hawks hockey to a sustained winning culture and finally ending the team’s 49-year championship drought.

And they did.


The 2009-10 season is when I really started to dive into prospects and coach Joel Quenneville’s line blender. I didn’t find SB Nation until after I graduated college in 2013. Pretty good year, right? To tie a bow on the season, my uncle and I took the train into the city in the wee hours of the morning to get a good spot by the stage to attend the Cup rally at Grant Park.

I wrote for FanSided’s Cubs site for a while until I saw Greg Boysen was leaving Second City Hockey for a new opportunity in 2014. I jumped at the chance to write for this site, and luckily SB Nation’s hockey manager Travis Hughes hired me on with Satchel Price being the main boss man. We’ve been the Patrick Kane (me, obviously) and Jonathan Toews for this site ever since.

As I’ve moved away from Illinois, writing about the Hawks, and following other Chicago teams has made me feel close to home. In a way, being apart of this SCH community makes me feel like I never left.

During the first two Hawks’ Cup runs this decade I enjoyed the ride with friends in college and celebrated with family, notably my uncle. The most recent one was spent with this SCH community, and hopefully we’ll celebrate another one or two together again.

And for all you young hockey players out there remember, Stanley Cup babies don’t exist in St. Louis.

Editor’s note from Satchel: Damn it, Brandon. Always with the jokes.

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