After a disappointing and annoying exit in the first round of the playoffs last season, and a regular season that can be only described as bi-polar, Blackhawks fans, rejoice! Playoff hockey is coming back to the United Center tomorrow night! I for one have had the attention span of a fruit fly since the early morning hours of Sunday awaiting this day.
If you are one of the lucky ones who will be attendance for Games 3 & 4 (and hopefully more, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves), you’re in for a real treat. Nothing beats watching a hockey game live during the playoffs. Two of my all time favorite hockey games I’ve ever been in the crowd for took place in the playoffs – Kaner’s hat trick vs the Canucks and Luongo in Game 6 of the Semi-Finals in 2009, and the Western Conference clinching Game 4 vs the Sharks in 2010. So, while the games will no doubt be a blast, let’s take a moment and refresh some basic dos and don’ts when it comes to catching a game at the UC.
DO get to the United Center early. I would suggest getting to the UC at least 20 minutes before puck drop to give yourself ample time to get to your seat. Even earlier if you want to buy beer/food, pee, stalk the annoying long haired guy who always gets on the jumbotron, or buy one of those stuffed hot dogs at the Blackhawks Store. If you’re a
stalker diehard like myself and want to watch the teams warmup, I’d suggest getting to Madison Street at least an hour before the game starts. The doors open 90 minutes prior to puck drop.
DO cheer during the Anthem. It’s a tradition, but the Anthem always seems louder in the postseason. Bring your cough drops and scream your heads off peeps. A few years ago some folks brought sparklers and lit them during Jim Cornelison’s rendition of the Banner, but I fear that John McDonough would probably chase you out of the arena with a fire extinguisher if you tried that now.
DON’T be late. You just sold a kidney for a ticket. Get your ass in your seat on time.
DO wave your towels when appropriate. Unless you show up during the second period, you will get a free rally towel at the game. Nothing looks better than 20K+ fans waving them in unison. It’s best to wave them after a goal (you can time it with Chelsea Dagger), during a stoppage in play, and to shoo away the fruit flies near the concession stands. DON’T wave them when the puck’s in play. And your small child may just be so enthusiastic that they want to wave them nonstop, but if you don’t control them, I will tell them you’re dropping them off at the orphanage on the way home.
DON’T get up early or get back late. Nothing gives me more pleasure when the Hawks score a goal in the first or last minute of a period. Do you know why? All the idiots who bolted to get a head start on the beer line or dawdled in the lobby MISSED IT! Unless you are about to wet your pants, wait until the horn sounds to bolt for the exit. A tip for the ladies – if you wait until there is about 10 minutes left on the clock until the next period starts, the lines to the washrooms are much shorter. And if you do opt to take a gander during the break, the horn blows with 5 minutes left and the goal horn will go off when the Hawks return to the ice – this is your sign to get a move on.
DON’T be a jerk in standing room. I get it – you couldn’t afford to buy a seat or there weren’t any left. You decided to try standing room only, something I’ve done a few times myself. If you don’t get to the UC when the doors open, you’re not going to get a good spot. So don’t be sulky if you’re standing behind that one guy with the huge fro – you want a prime spot, you need to get there early. Additionally, don’t stand in the aisles (I will trample your butt if there’s a fire) because you are undoubtely blocking someone’s view. And please don’t crowd those who have seats. I swear some guy nearly rested his junk on top of my head during one game – he’s lucky I left the scissors at home.
DON’T do a Pat Foley/Q impression. There’s always that one fan, screaming from your section in the 300 level. SHOOOOT. HIT SOMEBODY. MAN OPEN IN THE SLOT. PASSSSS. They can’t hear you on the ice dumbass. And if they did, do you think they’d listen to someone whose only hockey credentials is they once stayed up all night playing NHL 94? And you, the one who thinks they need to narrate the entire game like we’re all seeing impaired. If I wanted play-by-play, I’d get the WGN radio app. You don’t have a radio voice and I don’t need to hear you mangle players names like Harry Caray circa 1995.
DON’T act like an idiot with other fans. There may be a few Yotes fans in attendance at the UC. They will cheer for their team, why wouldn’t they? If you’re lucky, they may have a sense of humor and some good-natured heckling may be exchanged. But don’t be jerks to them – nothing is worse for a visiting fan than being verbally abused or feeling threatened. That goes for your fellow Hawks fans as well. If a person is being particularly annoying or vulgar, get an usher to take care of them. Yelling obscenities and slurs makes yourself and Blackhawks Nation look really, really bad. Do what I do – take a picture and mock them on Twitter.
DO have fun. We’ve been waiting for this for a year. Win or lose, playoff hockey is a privilege to watch. Think how lucky we all are – we could be living in Toronto.
DO WAIT FOR THE WHISTLE. Please. Just wait. Because if you don’t, shanking is allowed. It’s in the Bible.
LET’S GO HAWKS!