Being part of the Original Six brotherhood has some advantages: Logos that have stood the test of time, unparalleled history (both good and bad), a veritable who's who of hockey greats and iconic sweaters. Sometimes, I take this for granted. A midweek matchup against Columbus or Nashville just cannot ever come close to the juice one gets when the Bruins take on one of their Original Six brethren.
With the Rangers, Canadiens and Maple Leafs all in the same conference, we get to see those teams two (NYR) or three (MTL, TOR) times a year at home, guaranteed. But when it comes to the Western Conference siblings, Detroit and Chicago, we might get to see them every other year at best due to NHL scheduling.
As I said earlier in Part i of my recap, Heather and I had first deigned on going to a Bruins/Blackhawks game a couple of seasons ago, but the logistics just didn't work out. In the 2010 season, the Bruins hosted the Blackhawks at home. So our next chance for a Windy City showdown was this year.
Fast forward, then, to October 15th as the defending Stanley Cup champions found themselves taking on the Blackhawks as we made our way to our first road trip of the season. Our first time at the United Center, we were beyond excited for some Saturday night hockey, midwest style. Let's see how it played out.
You Can't Get There From Here
Oh, but you can.
After we finished up our tour of the Willis (Sears) tower, we didn't have enough time to head back to the hotel, so we decided to go straight to the stadium instead. We headed over towards the El, but the locals, seeing that we were all decked out in our Black and Gold regalia, suggested that the bus might be better (and quicker) option. Thanks to the fine folks at the Chicago Transit Authority, we were able to hop on the #20 bus at the corner of Wells and Madison and shoot right over to the United Center. Unlike my beloved Boston, Chicago is laid out as a grid and the public transportation system is far more reliable, so moving around the city is incredibly easy.
We somehow got off one stop earlier than we should have (we would have been dropped off right outside the Stadium), but it was only a two minute walk and we were able to get some quality camera shots along the way.
A Shared Kinship of Sorts
We arrived before the stadium gates opened which allowed us to mingle a bit with a bunch of the fans who were lined up outside. There were a bunch of fellow Bruins fans so we exchanged hi-fives and general pleasantries with them as we milled about.
Now, having been to away games in Montreal, Toronto and both eastern New York venues, I've steeled myself a bit when it comes to dealing with opposing fans. For the most part, the vast majority of people are decent and respectful, but there's always a few bad apples in the bunch. I've borne the brunt of taunts in the last row of the blue seats at Madison Square Garden as the B's were eviscerated 7-0 by the Rangers on St. Paddy's day. I've enjoyed been sworn at in French from upset Habs fans as the Bruins took two points in Montreal on St. Paddy's Day. I've suffered the indignity of being taunted by a bunch of 12 year old girls outside the Air Canada Center after Phil Kessel potted the game winner for the Leafs in shootout on my birthday. And, by far the worst experience was in Long Island as the boys in the spoked B sweaters were handed a beating by the Islanders and the "fans" spewed the most vile and profane comments at us that I'd ever heard at a sporting event.
It goes without saying that I take an overly cautious approach when I engage fans of the other team. I try to be respectful, reading and reacting rather than being open up front. If I sense that some people are up for some good natured jousting, I'll go ahead and give it to them, fully expecting something thrown back at me. But I've also learned not to let my guard down completely.
|The old school satin jacket lends major|
street cred to one's hockey knowledge
|When you can bring the noise|
you get to be a bit boastfu