By Paul M. Banks
During the past year, Chicagoâ€™s National Hockey League team has been on a tremendous promotional roll. They scored a public relations hat trick this past summer with the announcement of new broadcast partnerships, the NHLâ€™s first ever fan convention and the announcement of Wrigley Field hosting the NHLâ€™s Annual Outdoor Winter Classic. The new t-shirts reading â€œDonâ€™t Toews (pronounced TAYVES) me Bro,â€ should also help win over a few more fans. The Hawks kept the marketing momentum rolling with their first ever Training Camp Festival at the United Center on Saturday. The all day event featured a Hawks practice session, the “Mad Dash to Madison” 5K Run/Walk/Skate, a 3-On-3 Street Hockey Tournament in the UC parking lot, live music, and an interactive games area. This area included, naturally every type of table hockey you could imagine. Here I spoke with Hawks die-hard Kathleen Kelly, 26 of Tinley Park. â€œItâ€™s such a beautiful day, and itâ€™s great that the Hawks provided all this great stuff here and fun things to do. And thereâ€™s the hockey going on inside of course too,â€ Kelly said. The hockey she referred to was the Hawks first practice of the season. The three intra-squad scrimmages, was what most of the thousands of people paid their $5 to see.Â
Hawks Coach Dennis Savard addressed the media. â€œThereâ€™s a buzz in Chicago, but thereâ€™s a buzz around the league too. They talk about the changes the Hawks have made and how their fans are coming back. The fans choose to come back because they see great things are going on here,â€ Savard told me. Later I would observe the interior of the Hawks locker room, where the slogan â€œEARN ITâ€ is emblazoned above the tunnel to the ice. â€œWeâ€™re getting our fans back and we got to go out and earn their respect. We want â€˜em here every night for the next decade, or two decades,â€ Savard stated.Â
The September 23rd Preseason game versus the Columbus Blue Jackets had just 200 tickets remaining as of Monday.Â There certainly is a buzz at the box office!
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