When Blackhawks fans started chanting “Let’s go Hawks” throughout the Pepsi Center Monday night, it reminded me of how dedicated and die-hard these fans are for their hockey team.
Denver isn't the first city where Blackhawks fans have taken over an arena from the home team's fans.
Everywhere you go, the Indian head is visible -- and in a big way. Whether it's the crisp red Reebok jersey with a Toews or Kane nameplate, or the faded CCM jersey with Savard stitched on the back, Blackhawks fans are loud and loyal.
To truly appreciate it, take a road trip. You won't be disappointed. While I have too many memories to count at the Chicago Stadium and United Center, walking into an opposing team's arena is an experience.
It's the best feeling in the world when your team scores and scattered Blackhawks fans throughout the arena rise in unison to scream for a goal.
While the number of fans that travel with the Blackhawks is impressive, you will never match the pregame experience of a Blackhawks game in Chicago. The anticipation of the “Star-Spangled Banner” is awesome. If you luck out and head to a game with a Canadian team playing, even better. I know the words to “O, Canada” just from attending Blackhawks games.
Since I can remember, Blackhawks fans cheered for the anthem, but not me. I'm not against it. I actually love it, but when you're growing up, you imitate what you see every day. For me, it was my dad standing with his hand over his heart during the anthem.
I still clap and yell, but not until I hear, "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave." That's my cue to let it all out. I get chills during the anthem, every time. Believe it or not, I occasionally tear up during the anthem. I try not to let anyone see, but I can't explain why it happens. Maybe I'm thinking about memories with my dad growing up, or all the people that I've gone to games with throughout my life. I don't know what it is, but it's a feeling that I embrace.
It's not just the fans that feel the momentum build. The players feel it now in 2013, and going way back into the early 80s. They used it as an advantage -- if they were wearing a Blackhawks sweater that is.
"I'll never forget standing on the ice out there, the anthem gets going, the crowd gets going, and the ice actually started rocking." -- Doug Wilson
"We had a big, big advantage in that building, because people who walked up the stairs at the opposite end, were pretty much [expletive] their pants." -- Jeremy Roenick
"It was so unique. It was overwhelming as a visiting team player, because if you hadn't experienced something like that, you were never going to see something like that in your lifetime." -- Wayne Gretzky
"I think you realize how lucky you are to have that tradition and how much it means to the city of Chicago, the Blackhawks and the United Center." -- Patrick Kane
The anthem and raucous crowd make a difference.
You ask for proof? Here it is: The Columbus Blue Jackets were in town March 1. Vinny Prospal lights the lamp 31 seconds into the game, but the United Center was still abuzz from the end of the anthem. It's all about momentum, and an early lead by the opponent was laughed off by fans.
The Blackhawks came from behind twice in that game and won in overtime with a Brent Seabrook goal.
Despite their 24-game point streak being snapped, the Blackhawks have found their way back into the win column as the countdown begins toward the playoffs.
And you can bet whether it's on West Madison Street or any other arena in the league, Blackhawks fans will stand up and cheer for a crushing check, a goal and the national anthem.