Hockey etiquette for the new Blackhawks fan

Last night, as I watched the Hawks beat the Maple Leafs from Section 308, I realized that the United Center is quickly becoming the new Wrigley Field (minus all the losing). 

A Blackhawks game has become the place you bring you clients, your kids, or spend your 21st birthday “woo-ing” and asking everyone to buy you drinks. 

With this in mind, I’d like to lay out a little instruction manual for all you new fans.  They are simple little rules that will make the game more enjoyable for you, and the people around you who are actually there for the game.  

1.  Wait for a whistle :  If this has been screamed angrily in your direction, this is the blog for you.  You see, when you stand up while the play is going on, no one can see the action on the ice.  There are many stoppages in play during a hockey game.  Wait until there is one, then go pee for the 27th time.  Also, when you know you are getting up, ask your friends what they want while SEATED.  It will speed up the process, and you won’t be mindlessly standing in everyone’s sight line.  You also don’t need to hi-five and hug all your friends as you slink to your seat.  Chances are you’ve seen them before.

2.  Don’t yell, “Shoot!” :  This is typically yelled during a powerplay, while the home team is cycling the puck trying to get the best lane to shoot through.  The Blackhawks know how to score goals.  Have a little patience…and shut up.

3. Don’t yell, “Hit ’em!” : It doesn’t make a lot of sense to hit someone while you are carrying the puck.  I know you came for the fights.  The hits will come.  Relax.

4.  Purchase your jersey wisely : The Hawks are a really good young team.  Please embrace a current player.  Listen, you are far from the first person to realize that Clark Griswold wore a Hawks jersey in Christmas Vacation.  It’s been done.  Please don’t do it.  Also, DA’ HAWKS, VAN HALEN, DETROIT SUCKS or anything with the jersey number “69′ is unacceptable.  Oh, and if you haven’t seen a player play in your lifetime, his jersey probably isn’t the best for you.  




5.  Patrick Sharp wants nothing to do with you :  He can’t see the t-shirt you’ve made with his name in puffy paint.  He doesn’t see his number painted on your cheek.  Even if he could…you don’t have a chance.  Have you ever looked in to his eyes?  It’s like the first time I heard the Beatles.

6.  Neither does Patrick Kane : See #5 

7.  Don’t chant U-S-A when facing a Canadian team: I know the Maple Leafs are from Canada.  I know the Blackhawks are from Chicago, which is in the US.  90% of the people playing on the ice are from Canada. 

8.  Don’t boo the Canadian National Anthem :  If this is you just watch from your trailer, (and read #7 a few more times) OK?  What’s not to like about Canada?  Their affinity to bacon?  Mountees?  Rick Moranis?  Who doesn’t enjoy a nice Old King Clancy in the morning?  I know I do.  Have you never experienced a maple dipped donut from Tim Horton’s?  My friend…you haven’t lived.

9.  Don’t chant “Detroit Sucks” if the Wings aren’t in the building :  This was totally acceptable when the Hawks were awful.  Now that they’re contenders, save the vitriol for the Wings.  It makes us as a fan base look jealous and inadequate.  If you’re at the UC, chances are the Hawks are winning.  Enjoy it.  Many of us weren’t able to for the last decade or so. 

10.  Don’t boo Cubs/Sox players : There is no excuse for Ryne Sandberg getting booed by Sox fans last night.  The guy is a class act and a Hall of Famer.  I would hope Cub fans wouldn’t boo Carlton Fisk.  Please save your baseball hatred for the baseball season (unless it’s Milton Bradley). 

I hope these little pointers help.  Print them out and carry them with you.  Actually, print two in case you spill some of your Jager Bomb on one of them .  The ink will run and everyone around you will be screwed.

Thanks for reading and go Hawks!    


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  • Celine Dion is plenty of reason to dislike Canada.

  • This should be mandatory reading.

  • Rocky ought to have them staple copies of this to the Lemon Heads game cards and handed out at the gates.

  • Love this post.....truth be told by Jay-Z


  • I don't know, you spend $150 on a jersey, it can say whatever you want. You don't like it? Pay me $150 to take it off or shut the F*** up.

    We had a kid at the Wolves for several seasons who would get up all the time (after the whistle though, he was at least that civilized). We began doing over/ under on his need for the multiple king sized colas he consumed.

    Our final answer on this question, during play, if it's an adult, we ask if it's an emergency, if not we tell them to wait, we're not moving.

    Kids, we let by once. But tell them hockey etiquette is to wait for the whistle.

    Which brings me to my favorite no-no. Kids, don't scream "FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT" everytime there's a hit. The fighting is ritualized in this game. It has a purpose. Enjoy it when it happens, but stop screaming in my ear.

  • On item 7. Don't chant U-S-A : I know the Maple Leafs are from Canada. I know the Blackhawks are from Chicago, which is in the US. 90% of the people playing on the ice are from Canada.

    I think the exception to this rule is Veteran's Day! I heard it in the crowd and I think it was a nice touch, very similar to the chants and banners during the Gulf War All-Star game back in '91 across the street in the old building.

  • What sanctimonious BS. As a veteran of many many years in the Old Stadium, I can tell YOU to "shut up". Yelling "shoot!" and "hit 'em!" is part of the fan experience. Had you tried to give us a lecture like this in the old days, you'd be picking your teeth up in the parking lot.

    Although I have to agree about the boooing of Sandberg. As big a Sox fan as I am, a Hawks' game is neutral turf. I can respect a guy if he likes the Hawks even if he's a Cub.

    Oh, and "Detroit sucks!"

  • @cubby : i agree on veterans day obviously, but chanting "USA" to stick it to the leafs doesn't make a lot of sense.

    @reggie : i spent plenty of time in the old barn. it bugged me then, and it bugs me now...and detroit DOES're right. good thoughts on sandberg as well.

  • Rule #11 : Never start of participate in the wave in any Chicago arena.

  • The Blackhawks should do more to educate newer fans on hockey fan etiquette, particularly waiting for a whistle. I bet they could do some clever skits on the video scoreboard to drive home the point.

    I don't have a problem with a lot of this stuff. When you're amidst a large crowd, people will always do something that annoys someone else. But when someone can't see the play on the ice or if profanity gets overbearing and out of control, that's when it needs to stop. The truth is, fan etiquette is all about common courtesy; treating people as you'd want to be treated. Sadly, the perpetrators of inconsiderate behavior are probably doing it everywhere, not just at sporting events.

  • I agree with each of these etiquette rules.

    Here's a pet peeve of mine. Unless we're playing against them, don't wear a different team's jersey to the game. I understand that you love hockey, but I really don't want to see a Ranger's sweater in the UC. That's just me, though.

  • @Sally the whole sweater thing bugs me like nothing else thank you for bringing that up.

    Jay rule #5 is great I know exactly what your talking about. Good blog and I agree they should print this and pass it out when you walk through the turnstyle with the little game card things.

  • Great article Jay, and it's both good and bad that you had to write it. Good that people are flocking back the Hawks, and bad that this stuff needs to be spelled out for them.

    I'd also like to give a clue to people who looked shocked that the crowd is so rambunctious during the anthem. The look on some people's faces while they stand stoically during the anthem is ridiculous, like they think people are being disrespectful. So tell the rookies that not only is it acceptable to go a little crazy during the anthem, it's downright patriotic!

  • Two GLARING omissions:

    First - do cheer during the (US) National Anthem. It's been a tradition since the 1980's and, if done properly, is perfectly respectful. Take your cue from those around you.

    Second - the proper way to cheer on the boys is: "LET'S GO HAWKS!" Three quarter notes. It's not "Go Hawks Go!" or the sing-songy "Let's go Black-hawks." The latter is so Detroit (sucks!) it's pathetic.

    That having been said - yes, always always always wait for the whistle. On jerseys, caution is indeed a good rule-of-thumb. Better not to put anything on the back than something you might regret later. This includes, IMHO, a player that might be here today but gone tomrrow.

    As for the rest, I think it was more a reaction to what was observed by the writer on Friday night's game against the Leafs than a set of rules of general application.

  • @HF71 - good post. I agree on jersey caution. I wanted to stop people from dropping $350 on authentic havlat and khabibulin winter classic jerseys last year.

  • I'd like to add a tweak to the jersey rule.

    I think if you're older than the player's jersey you are wearing, you shouldn't be wearing it. For example, i don't think a 41 year old should be wearing a #88 Kaner Jersey. I think that all jersey wearing should cease after age 25, but that might just be me.

  • jesox - i agree. also, if you are BIGGER than the player who's jersey you are good. like, I couldn't wear a theriot or fontenot jersey. you must be either taller of fatter than me. I guess I need a byfuglien.

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