By Evan Moore
The recent success of the Chicago Blackhawks has not only generated interest in the team. It has also generated interest in the sport itself.
Blackhawks CEO John McDonough was a guest on SportsTalk Live on Friday night. According to McDonough, the sport of hockey is on the rise in the Chicago area.
“I think there wasn’t much of a hangover (from the NHL lockout), certainly in the Chicago area with the youth leagues,” McDonough said. “It’s stronger than it’s ever been. There’s a lot of talent coming out of Chicago."
With Blackhawks training camp at the University of Notre Dame, McDonough said he was also surprised in the number of Chicago area players on the Notre Dame hockey team’s roster. The Fighting Irish had seven players from the Chicagoland area on their roster from last season.
“I was surprised with the amount of players on Notre Dame’s roster coming out of Chicago,” he said. “I think (Illinois is) the fastest growing state as far as youth hockey is concerned.”
McDonough mentioned the high school hockey games played at the United Center.
“I think the sport has exploded. I think it’s a great option for people,” McDonough said. “It’s interesting now, Jay Blunk put together the state championship we now host at the United Center for the past few years, and attendance is great.”
He also was anxious to see where youth hockey in Chicago will end up.
“So many people are curious about the youth hockey leagues. It’s going to be interesting to see what this looks like in the next 10 to 15 years.”
The Blackhawks open the season against the Washington Capitols on Oct. 1.
Hear more from McDonough in the video above.