CHICAGO – Chicago Blackhawks sweaters are commonplace around the city these days — though not all wearers realize that is what hockey players and die-hard fans call those “jerseys.”
As the Blackhawks have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final series with the Boston Bruins, Chicago is awash in red and black hats, T-shirts and jerseys — er, sweaters. But because hockey is a mystery to many — a game seemingly played largely by bearded men with hard-to-pronounce names — this particular season’s bandwagon is loaded with fans who don’t know the difference between the blue lines on the ice and the Blue Line train that runs out to O’Hare airport.
“A lot of these people, all they know is that somebody in Chicago is going for a championship,” said Jordan Goldberg, manager of a bar near the United Center, where the Blackhawks play.
“When a goal is scored, they yell like everyone else but then they go back to what they were doing,” said Curtis Tinnell, a computer analyst.
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Those fans probably also don’t know it’s superstition that keeps hockey players from shaving during the playoffs. But the bearded Tinnell, 29, does: The last time he grew one was during the 2010 playoffs, which ended with the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup.
That is not to say Chicago doesn’t have its share of rabid and knowledgeable fans.
But the half-century Stanley Cup drought that preceded the 2010 championship and the fact the team didn’t televise home games until a few years ago mean many residents haven’t paid much attention to hockey.
So Bob McDermott, owner of The Beer Bistro, finds himself fielding questions such as why the players suddenly stop playing for no apparent reason.
“They ask if it is a time out and I say it’s not really a time out but part of the game, kind of like a foul ball,” McDermott said.
• Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward. Other award winners: Ottawa’s Paul MacLean (coach of the year); Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero (executive of the year); and Tampa Bay forward Martin St. Louis (Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for most sportsmanlike player).