By Paul M. Banks
If the local NHL team has an Oscar night, this was it.Â The Chicago Blackhawks launched their 2008-09 regular-season home opener Monday night with a special red carpet event on Madison Street at 5pm. 21,712 attended the first home game of a historic season. This is the first year that every Hawks game will be broadcast on television. Unfortunately, they lost 3-2 in an overtime shoot-out to the rival Nashville Predators at the United Center.
The 2008-09 Blackhawks players arrived via limousine (I have a media print-out listing each playerâ€™s limo assignment for any interested hard core fan, you can ask by commenting below) and were each introduced before walking down a red carpet into the United Center. Blackhawks Color Analyst Eddie Olczyk served as the master of ceremonies, while team President John McDonough was the premier guest speaker.
All the local sports media heavy hitters were in the press box to see an arena that was a Red Sea. The team, as well as most fans in attendance, wore the road red jerseys (the kind you would recognize from Wayne and Garth in â€œWayneâ€™s Worldâ€ and Clark W. Griswold in the â€œVacationâ€ movies) instead of the usual home whites. The leader of the visiting opposition noticed and commented on the newly augmented game atmosphere. â€œQuite frankly for the last ten years weâ€™ve been coming here and there was crickets in the building, but that was a pretty good atmosphere and I think itâ€™s great for the league, itâ€™s great for the city of Chicago,â€ said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz.
Despite the loss, there were some bright spots. Martin Havlat, an Olympian who represented the Czech Republic in 2002, scored the first home Hawks goal of the season off a power play about nine minutes in. The Hawks ranked just 24th in the league last season converting power plays, so one of their target priorities for this season was boosting that category. Iâ€™m sure youâ€™ve seen the â€œOne Goalâ€ (yes, just like the Eiffel â€™65 song) promotional campaign by now.
Hawks coach Dennis â€œSavvyâ€ Savard did see some progress in defeat though. He noted at the post game press conference, â€œThey played harder, competed harder, won a lot more one-on-one battles than in the other two games. Especially than against Washington.â€ Although the loss was disappointing, the Hawks battled fiercely and the game was an event in itself.
Leave a Reply