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News » Watching like a Hawk: Hockey is where it's at


Watching like a Hawk: Hockey is where it's at


Watching like a Hawk: Hockey is where it's at
It took only about 40 years to come back around, but it's official. I enjoy watching hockey more than Basketball. OK, perhaps I should be more specific. I enjoy watching the Blackhawks more than the Bulls.

For some of you, this might be a no-brainer. The Blackhawks are a better team right now, seemingly closer to a championship in their sport than the Bulls are in theirs.

For others, this might be an impossible argument of apples and oranges. You simply can't compare. They are different sports. Maybe you're a hockey fan and have never cared for pro Basketball. Or you will never get into hockey, regardless of how the Blackhawks perform.

But I'm appealing to the non-discriminating Chicago sports fan, and I'm wondering if I'm alone on this.

Let's face it. Since the Bulls' inception in the mid-1960s, it has always been easier to be a fan of the Bulls. While both teams were on close to equal footing in the early to middle '70s in the eyes of the public, both franchises enjoying similar levels of success and both with colorful and talented players to follow, you still had to make more of an effort to be a Hawks fan.

While Hawks players were just as accessible to fans (it was not uncommon for stars like Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Tony Esposito to sign autographs for hours after games and at appearances all over Chicago, north and south), the team was not.

While I remember following the Stanley Cup finals in '71 and '73 and being heartbroken by the losses to Montreal, I was huddled next to a radio. And in the years that followed, as the appeal of televised sports grew, the Hawks just weren't compelling enough on a regular basis to make the effort.

Sure, there were exceptions. There were Denis Savard, Doug Wilson, Ed Belfour, Jeremy Roenick, Chris Chelios. There were the teams of '89 and '90, '92 and '95. But those teams could never get a fair shake with the rise and coronation of the Michael Jordan-led Bulls.

I realize not every Chicago fan has been lucky enough to attend games of either team on a regular basis, but even covering the Bulls from the early to mid-'90s, I always remember thinking the noise in the United Center sounded artificial, with deafening music rather than crowd noise.

Nothing can duplicate the sound in Chicago Stadium, but I've enjoyed attending Hawks games at the United Center much more than Bulls games over the last few years for the more natural, fan-based atmosphere.

As for the personalities of the teams -- no comparison right now. With few exceptions (notably Derrick Rose and Andres Nocioni) and even discounting talent, there is simply a lack of heart on this Bulls team that is seen in abundance on the Hawks.

While I don't think Jerry Reinsdorf and John Paxson have set out to give fans a team so hard to embrace, it's hard not to rally around Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and Dale Tallon right now. The addition of TV coverage was a must. Children with little idea who the Blackhawks were can now name a half-dozen of their favorite players. Hawks jerseys are springing up everywhere.

Regardless of whether sitting out in the cold at Wrigley Field for $75 to $375 a pop last week was your idea of a good time, you would be hard-pressed to say the spectacle wasn't good for the game and exciting for the Blackhawks.

Maybe it's too easy to pick on the Bulls right now in the midst of a three-game losing streak and fresh off a loss to the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves. But then again, maybe that's the point.

What do you think? Which United Center tenant do you like better right now, the Bulls or the Blackhawks? E-mail Melissa Isaacson and tell her why at heymissy@tribune.com


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 5, 2009

 

 
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