Julia Schatz, Account Executive
After last nights come-from-behind victory over the Colorado Avalanche, the Chicago Blackhawks have their 11th straight win, bringing their record to 21-0-3.
The Blackhawks, one of the oldest franchises in the league, are almost halfway through the shortened 48-games-in-99-days NHL season without a regulation loss.
They have not won every game by a blow out. In fact, many of their wins happened much like last night, leaving fans at the edge of their United Center seats until the very end. The Blackhawks amazing hot streak to open the season may in fact be the NHL’s saving grace following the lockout, which left hockey fans with a very negative perspective on the league who seemed to forget about the game they love.
Chicago is a town that loves its sports teams and is no stranger to winning. With the memory of the 2010 Stanley Cup fresh in the minds of fans, this streak is leaving them wanting another championship. The team’s tagline, “One Goal,” seems more realistic than idealistic. This “eye on the prize” mentality is keeping fan’s attention on the future, rather than dwelling on the past.
Even before the winning streak began, the Blackhawks organization was going above and beyond to show fans they cared about them, despite what the lockout led them to believe. Blackhawks.nhl.com reads, “Your devotion is something we do not take for granted. As we pursue our ‘One Goal,’ we will do everything we can to earn and maintain your allegiance.” To demonstrate the organization’s “gratitude for your patience” the Hawks will give away autographed memorabilia including 1,000 jerseys, 250 pucks, plus, seats to every home game and once-in-a-lifetime experiences over the course of the 99-day season.
One of the Blackhawks’ strongest attributes both on and off the ice is how deep their line of players goes in talent AND popularity. Two of the obvious favorites are Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews, both only 24, who came into the league very young and have continued to prove their talent was not just hype. But these two are not the only stars of the team. Daniel “Carbomb” Carcillo won the game last night with his first goal of the season, Marian Hossa was just honored with his 1,000 game in the NHL, Corey Crawford is hot in the goal, and Patrick Sharp is just, well, hot. The list of fan favorites extends well beyond the first line.
The Blackhawks are not only a lovable team on the ice but they are loved by the Chicagoans off the ice because of their public appearances and involvement in the community. The players are not only likeable, but they seem accessible to fans. Player-community interaction and involvement is a unique strategy the Blackhawks use when approaching sponsorships and advertising. Combined with winning, perhaps this perceived sense of loyalty to individual players rather than to a business-driven organization helped Chicago fans forgive and forget.
Yes, we all know that streaks like this can’t last forever but until that dreaded loss happens, there is hope that ‘This could be the year’ and ‘I could be watching history in the making’. This creates a must-see mentality for every.single.game. Last night was the 202nd consecutive sellout game at the United Center.
Although the Blackhawks success is helping heal the NHL’s image, the lockout left local Blackhawk-driven businesses essentially without a product for three months. This had undeniable financial effects on Chicago and local businesses. Even with a constant sellout crowd, the team’s current success is not helping the city makeup for these losses. In a Chicago Sun Times article, University of Chicago sports economist Allen Sanderson explained to Mike Thomas that because the Hawks fan base is largely hyperlocal, much like the Bulls and the Bears, they have “zero economic impact on the city.” He also added that, “In fact, only the Cubs and the Chicago Marathon (in that order) have a significant effect on Chicago’s economy because they attract people from outside the city.” Clearly, the Blackhawks have won the hearts of Chicagoans. Now, the organization’s “second goal” should be to increase profits from out-of-towners to help Chicago’s economy.
Whether or not fans will feel differently about the NHL if the mighty Blackhawks ever lose will remain to be seen. But for now, the Fratellis “Chelsea Dagger” should be music to the NHL’s ears.