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“You’re in the wrong city, bud!”
“You know we won the cup in 2019, right?”
“Who are they without Kane?”
“You guys started tanking after Panarin left.”
As a Chicago Blackhawks fan in St. Louis, these are just some of the things that I hear on a regular basis. I am a hockey fan overall, but the team that I cheer for is the Chicago Blackhawks. In season and off season, I constantly sport Blackhawks attire; therefore, I hear many heckles from Blues fans. After hearing them over and over again, I get used to it. For a while I was able to respond with one thing that would end the conversation, “Three Cups in Six years, Six Cups overall,” but since the Blues won in 2019, that response is useless.
One of the more popular questions that I receive from the people that know me and where I am from is, “How did you become a Blackhawks fan if you’re from St. Louis?” Well, I am going to let everyone know how such a crime was committed.
My dad always took me to hockey games in the old Scottrade Center, which is now the Enterprise Center. Back then, I would go just to watch the game. I had no real idea of what was going on. I knew of some of the basic rules, but I did not understand all that went into the sport, like strategies and the meaning behind specific rules. I was just attending the game to watch alongside my dad. Plus, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the fights. My first jersey was a Blues jersey; no name, just the emblem. So, you’d think this was the birth of Blues fan. Well, not exactly.
In 2010, when I was thirteen, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. This is where my first bit of interest in the team came from. After they won the Cup, I decided to do some research on the team. I noticed that there was a player on the team that shared the same name as me. I thought it was a pretty cool coincidence. I went and did more research on Jonathan Toews and was amazed at his achievements. Toews was named the team’s captain for the 2008-2009 season, “making him the third-youngest captain in NHL history,” according to The Hockey News. Another fascinating fact about Toews is that “During his first season with Chicago (2007–08), he scored 24 goals and was nominated for the Calder Trophy for best rookie in the NHL,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
Back in 2011 on Christmas day, I was gifted my first Chicago Blackhawks jersey. It was not just an emblem jersey this time. It was a Jonathan Toews jersey. I believe this is when I realized that I am more of a player fan than a team fan. If Toews were to ever leave the Blackhawks and play for another team, I would have to get a new jersey and start learning about a new team.
“Your mom told me she ordered you a Blackhawks jersey and I thought she was joking,” my dad told me as I opened the gift.
And so, the heckling began.
Most high schools have a spirit week which allows students to dress in the theme of the day. Christian Brothers College High School, where I went to high school, I participated in only one of the themed days: Jersey Day. You might be able to guess which jersey I wore. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I thought I would be the only one in a Blackhawks jersey, but I was wrong. A teacher and a fellow student wore Blackhawks apparel as well.
“Blackhawks?! This is St. Louis!”
“You are way out numbered here.”
“At least you chose to go to a high school with the best hockey program.”
“I think you bought the wrong jersey.”
These were just some of the things I heard while walking from class to class on Jersey Day. Outside of school, I would hear more heckles and would receive many “stink eyes.”
On the other hand, from my close friends and family wouldn’t give me too much trouble. My dad was and is the one that gives me the most trouble about it. Coming home from work on a day that the Blackhawks and the Blues had a game, knowing how the Blackhawks performed, he will ask, “So, how’d the Hawks do today?”
As of late the Blackhawks aren’t doing so hot, so I simply respond with a reason to justify the loss: a bad call, absence of key players, or I didn’t get to listen to the game (one of my superstitions).
My friends don’t really give me too much trouble about it nowadays. We just make small bets when the Blues play the Blackhawks. I have gone to Blues games with them even when they aren’t playing the Blackhawks. Why? Because I enjoy watching hockey.
So, now you know what it’s like being a fan of the Chicago Blackhawks in St. Louis. If you see a guy in Blackhawks apparel, it is most likely me. Don’t be afraid to heckle me; after about ten years, I have become used to it and have started to expect it.