Fans celebrate Blackhawks' Stanley Cup victory...in very different ways

December 21, 2010

Tony Arnold

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(AP/Kathy Willens)
Fans go head to head in game six of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey finals in Philadelphia.

On June 9, the Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup since 1961. The victory celebrations went late into the night for thousands of fans. They poured into the streets around Wrigley, they crowded up and down Michigan Avenue and gathered near the United Center. WBEZ's Tony Arnold caught the game on the Near West Side and had a front row seat to the chaos that ensued.

The victory celebrations went late into the night for thousands of Blackhawks' fans. They poured into the streets outside Wrigley Field, down Michigan Avenue and near the United Center after the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup-clinching 4-3 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. WBEZ's Tony Arnold caught the game on the Near West Side and had a front row seat to the chaos that ensued.
 
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You're not a real Chicago TV reporter until you've done a live shot the night of a championship.

Before the puck even dropped in Philadelphia, the line outside the West End bar on Madison Street was out the door. But not even a block away, about a dozen Blackhawks fans looking to get away from all the commotion enjoyed plenty of seats at a smaller bar inside a neighborhood ice rink. These were some of the die-hards. TJ Bodden says he's loved the Blackhawks almost his entire life.

BODDEN: It's kind of like finding a band that you love growing up and it's your band, but all of the sudden when the captain of the football team likes them, you kind of feel like they left you behind.

Melissa and Isaac Porter were sitting at a nearby table.

MELISSA PORTER: Good beer. Cheap beer. Great spot to watch it.
ISAAC PORTER: And some real hockey fans here. So it's good to be around.

They were all tucked away in a small corner of Johnny's Ice House, where Chicago's amateurs come to play hockey. The ice rink is empty, but the bar is the type of place where everyone's fully focused on the game; where old sports newspaper clippings from the past line the wood-paneled walls and hockey players come to grab some drinks before their games.

WALZ: I don't think I've missed one period of a 'Hawks game all year. All 103 games now.

John Walz says he started playing hockey about three years ago while he was in law school.

WALZ: It's the best thing I've ever done in my entire life. I would've went insane between school and work if I didn't have hockey once a week.

And he says he's been a Blackhawks fan his whole life.
 
After the game, I stepped outside of the rink, which sits a couple blocks from the United Center. Fans from nearby bars were flooding the streets. 

SWANSON: It means we've got dedicated fans. We've been waiting for this longer than you can even think about. So this is sweeter, sweeter than anything we could hope for.

Katie Swanson was among those who helped shut down Madison Street near the United Center, home to the Blackhawks. The police were out in full force and cars were at a stand-still. Kids were leaning out the windows, waving the Blackhawks' flag. And fans literally walked down the middle of the street to a parade of high fives. But celebratory fist bumps aside…

Back up in the corner of Johnny's Ice House, a different kind of celebrating was going on. After regulation ended and the game was headed for overtime, John Walz stood up; his hockey gear already on.

WALZ: Unfortunately I'm going to have to go play right now. I guess I'll determine by people jumping up or swearing really loudly what happens.

Walz and his team were scheduled to play at 9:50, just after the 'Hawks game was supposed to end. So Walz, who said he hadn't missed a single period of the Blackhawks all season, missed overtime; missed the game-winning goal...

WGN Announcer: And now it's in the net! They score! They score! The 'Hawks win the Stanley Cup!

And missed the Blackhawks' championship victory to go play some hockey.