An Open Letter to Visiting Blackhawks Fans

By: Miranda Martin

Dear Blackhawks fans,

I’m going a little off the typical blogging style that I do on this site to talk one on… well, probably a few hundred, maybe even a thousand. This may be preemptive, but from previous games in recent seasons, please hear me out.

I know many Blackhawks fans are traveling from hours away to attend the first meeting between these two teams, so firstly, thanks for supporting the Nashville economy. This lockout has been particularly difficult on all of the NHL markets, including Nashville, and it’s going to take a while to fully recover all the game nights lost. Where Preds fans are trying to help the restaurants and bars in need, many Preds fans can’t help the traveling and hotel businesses where opposing fans assist.

Secondly, I like the Blackhawks, no matter what you may take from this article. I tend to make a pilgrimage to Chicago at least once a season to experience a game at the United Center, and I have attended the past two Blackhawks Conventions in July. The Chicago Blackhawks have one of the most entertaining and passionate fan bases, and I would recommend any hockey fan to put a game at the United Center on their bucket list.

But some things need to be addressed for the travelers regarding an experience in Nashville to make sure that the Chicago fans are not seen obnoxious nuisances. In the past Blackhawks games at Bridgestone arena, there have been some problems with a decent amount of fans. While this isn’t for all Blackhawks fans, and I have met some great fans who have visited Nashville over the years, the Preds fans have very appropriate concerns to tackle between this growing rivalry.

So here are just two simple guidelines to make the first Blackhawks/Predators game at Bridgestone arena this year an awesomely intense Central Division game:

First and most importantly, please do not cheer during the anthem. It is a wonderful tradition in Chicago. The live experience is awe-inspiring. But this is not Chicago. This is not the Madhouse on Madison. That is not Jim Cornelison singing the national anthem (and I hope that it is Dennis Morgan, but that is a completely different article that’s yet to be written.) The fact of the matter is you are in the South, where the “good ole boy” style patriotism bleed from most citizens, including the citizens of Smashville. While there is moving patriotism when it is experienced in Chicago, when it is done in Nashville by an opposing fanbase, it loses its patriotism and is viewed as disrespectful. This is a region laden with old fashioned values with people who have been taught to stand silently and respect the anthem. It is a regional, cultural difference that may eventually be respected at some point in time. In previous years when the Dallas Stars fans traveled to Nashville, it got to the point where the Preds changed to “God Bless America” so their fans couldn’t yell “STARS” during the anthem. There’s no alternative for the issue with cheering during the anthem, so let’s just not do it, okay? (And by “it,” I mean the cheering, not the anthem. ‘MURICA.)

This next guideline goes for both Nashville fans and Chicago fans. Please come to enjoy and watch the game. With four very talented crews in the Central Division (sorry Columbus), it has made for the intensity of rivalries to grow even more within the divisions, and sometimes, it gets out of hand. In the past, many St. Louis Blues fans have been known to travel down more to troll Nashville fans and cause a ruckus than to watch the game. There have been multiple accounts of fans “spilling” beers or trying to start fights on the streets outside of the game. Some Detroit fans last season followed Predators fans around town, including to their cars. As for Nashville fans: don’t poke the bear… or, in this case, the Blackhawk.

A hockey game isn’t a hippie commune by any means, but there is a fine line between harmless heckling and harassing. It’d be great to see no one cross the line on either side. We are here to watch a hockey game and cheer on our team, not to harass each other to the point of discomfort. Isn’t that what the internet is made for now, anyway?

I’m sure I’m not reaching the people who actually need to read this, and it is sad that only a handful of people give a poor representation of the entire traveling fan base. My request is if anyone sees these actions, stop it. And if you do it, stop it. Chirping is more than acceptable—that’s what makes hockey and any rivalry beautiful. But there is a difference between enjoying a great game with a great rivalry and just trying to get a rouse. Let’s just have some fun.

It’s going to be one hell of a game. The Blackhawks have still not lost in regulation and are dominating the entire league, having experts chirping about “2010” already. After a somewhat rough start to the season, the Predators have found their footing and won 4 out of their last 5 games, and still were able to retain a point in Minnesota last night. Both teams will be out to prove a lot tomorrow, and both team’s fans will be represented for a great night in Nashville.

Enjoy the game and let’s play hockey,

The Agitated.

P.S. Note that the term “bandwagoner” was not used throughout that letter. You’re welcome.

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