At this point in the season, it's nothing new to see the Chicago Blackhawks sell out a game. We're all pretty used to it. The Blackhawks have one of their best teams in decades; it's young and exciting and it's incredibly fun to watch, and so people show up. It's not rocket science.
What is surprising is the magnitude with which Blackhawks fans keep coming back to the United Center. The Hawks are not a novelty, or merely something to do on the weekend. They've become go-to viewing for a huge segment of the local sports demographic. They're making oodles of money again. They're back on TV. That this franchise has come so far in merely two years is something that continues to blow our mind, and yet, there it is, as obvious in the attendance numbers as can be:
Sunday’s game drew 22,443, the Blackhawks’ 24th straight sellout at the United Center, boosting the season average to 22,051. The average is helped by the 40,000-plus who attended the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field, but president John McDonough said that won’t matter in the long run. ‘‘I’m confident we’ll set the all-time franchise attendance record, and that won’t include the number from Wrigley Field,’’ McDonough said. ‘‘But we’re not taking anything for granted.’’
Including last season, that makes 28 straight sellouts for the Blackhawks at the United Center. The Bulls don't do that. The Circus doesn't do that. Locally, only the Cubs and Bears can make a claim to that sort of repeat business. That's a financial boon for a team whose owner once blacked out all home games in an attempt to wrongheadedly force people back into the arena. You've come a long way, Hawks.
Eamonn Brennan is a writer, editor and blogger hunkered down in Lincoln Park. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, MOUTHPIECE Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com.