Today I was sent a piece on the Blackhawks from a Hawks fan who lives in Australia. As us fans in Chicago are on the edge of our seats, praying to get to another parade, and driving our loved ones crazy, it was very refreshing to read the thoughts of a true fan who is unable to part take in all of the local craze and festivities.
Paul Wilkins has been watching and reading about the Blackhawks as much as possible in Australia the past several years. He was able to buy a ticket for Game 5 and plans on flying into Chicago for the big game. His story is below:
Why I love the Chicago Blackhawks
By Paul Wilkins
I have only watched them play live twice, but I absolutely adore the Chicago Blackhawks.
Nothing quite gets me going like blasting some Chelsea Dagger on the treadmill, in fact every time I hear that song now, I can’t help but think of the red light flashing, the horn sounding, and the Madhouse on Madison going completely bonkers.
Not too many Australians know could be considered Hockey aficionados, but since my first Blackhawks experience some six years ago, I have taken it on as my mission to immerse myself in as much Blackhawks history as possible- Mikita, Hull, Roenick, Esposito, and Savard are just some of the names I've come to appreciate and value.
My first Blackhawks experience was in October 2007, when we took on the Colorado Avalanche. Despite a crowd of only 13,500, I had an absolute blast; Patrick Kane scored his first goal for the organization, we won 5-3, and I walked away with a new red 88 jersey. Even Coach Q was involved that evening, in charge of the Avalanche.
Down Under, I got regular Blackhawks fixes via WGN 720, while every now and then watching the games that appeared on Australian pay television.
When the Red Wings knocked us out in five games in the 2009 Western Conference Finals, I knew the experience of beating the Flames and Canucks was invaluable, and would stand the team in good stead for the future.
In June 2010, I was in the air, en-route to Johannesburg to support Australia at the FIFA World Cup during Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Flyers. Facing another 12 hours in the air before touching down in South Africa, I begged the flight attendant to find out the score for me. She returned 10 minutes later, after consulting the captain to tell me that we’d lost 5-3, and the series was level at two games apiece.
Just a few days later, while sitting in my hotel room in Durban, the news came through that Kaner had scored in OT, and we were Stanley Cup champions. I whipped out a Hawks cap, which I proudly wore for a week non-stop!
Whilst watching Slovakia take on New Zealand, I bonded with some Slovakians at one of the matches over our mutual admiration for Marian Hossa, and his then-teammate, Tomas Kopecky. They were surprised, yet pleased that an Australian was able to hold a conversation with them about Hockey.
Of the current playing group, I can’t really go past Patrick Kane as my favorite I hold a particular disdain for the Canucks, Red Wings, and Blues, and wasn't terribly impressed with the Avalanche’s excessive celebrations when they broke our unbeaten streak earlier this season
Now with Apple TV and a subscription to NHL Gamecenter, I rarely miss a game. Although due to the time difference, it’s often not possible to watch games live, I usually catch the replay or highlights after work. It’s been quite a ride as a Blackhawks fan over the years, and I’m very much excited by what the future holds.
So now we come to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
I’m not one who normally has a lot of facial hair, but my first ever playoff beard that began back at the beginning of the Wild series, is now a little thicker after the matchups against the Red Wings and Kings.
Sitting at home in Melbourne, Australia watching the triple overtime game one against the Bruins, I sneakily checked my frequent flyer points balance. Within a few hours, I’d been in touch with my buddies in Chicago, arranged couches to crash for a couple of weeks, and booked a flight to leave Melbourne the next day. It’s possibly the craziest thing I've ever done, but I have no regrets.
After approximately 30 hours in transit, including stopovers in Sydney and Los Angeles, I arrived in Chicago on Friday evening. I decided not to pursue a ticket for game two, instead watched the game at a bar in Wrigleyville with friends.
I bought a ticket on level three for Saturday night’s Game 5 at the United Center, something I’m super excited for. It’s been close to five years since I've seen the Blackhawks play live, and I’ll likely be jumping out of my skin when the puck drops. Despite not being American, I’m sure I’ll be shaking with excitement when the crowd starts cheering for Jim Cornelison’s version of The Star Spangled Banner. I’m ready. Let’s Go Hawks!
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