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Start Watching The Blackhawks. NOW.

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

If you consider yourself a sports fan of any kind, you need to start watching the Hawks. Starting tonight.

I'm not saying you need to jump on the bandwagon with both feet, buy a dog and name it Mikita, or spend a few hundred bucks on authentic Hawks sweaters. But you need to get over any bias you may have about the sport and just try it.

I've been open about my relative hockey noobishness since launching this blog. But since the ownership change, I'm not the only person to rediscover hockey and the Hawks. TV ratings were up an insane 287% over 2007-2008's regular season, and this year's playoff games are breaking ratings records game after game. Raw ratings don't necessarily mean a good product; American Idol and Dancing With the Stars have taught us that. But trust me and the 355,000 Chicagoland households that watched Game 3: it's awesome.

Perhaps you never got into hockey because you don't ice skate. Maybe no one played hockey in your circle of friends when you were young. Maybe you see a 2-1 final score and think "Pfft, must've been a boring game. Only three scores in the whole thing?"

All three statements applied to me previously. The first two still do, mostly. But I've learned that hockey, particularly playoff hockey, is the most exciting (or heartbreaking) sport you can watch on television.

I enjoy it more than baseball. There, I said it. And football, with your ridiculous amount of TV timeouts, you're on notice.

This year I watched somewhere between 65 to 70 Blackhawks regular season games (that's out of 82, newbies) so I feel like I finally shed the label of "bandwagon jumper". I'm now labeled as "new hockey fan". (Or, if you're reading this in Detroit, apparently "asshole" works, too.) And I've sacrificed my face for my fandom this spring. But you don't have to go to any crazy lengths to enjoy what the Blackhawks are doing.

You just have to watch.

Make plans to spend your Friday night with the Hawks. They're in Vancouver, on the same ice where the US and Canada squared off for the gold medal earlier this year. (Heck, Vancouver's goalie IS Team Canada's goalie. And the Blackhawks are schooling him! It's awesome.) If you like it, they're back home on Sunday.

You're going to like it. If you like sports, I guarantee it.

On a related note, I've got an invite to the Blackhawks' road watch at the United Center tonight. I must be moving up in the media world...uh, or something. (Thank you, mysterious benefactor.) Since I don't deserve to be partying it up in the Harris Club or skating on the UC ice nearly half as much as hardcore Hawks fans, I'll promise to at least take a bunch of pictures and videos for a future blog entry. It should be awesome.

I bought my first Blackhawks T-shirt for the occasion.

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