After a year-and-a-half, the Blackhawks welcome a full capacity of fans back for a regular season game
CHICAGO – One of the great things about the Blackhawks’ dynasty run of the 2010s was the fact that the fanbase played such a major part in making the United Center a true home.
Sellout crowds greeted the home team while also making it difficult for the visitors as the team won a trio of Stanley Cups in six years. A mix of traditional fans who told stories of Chicago Stadium along with a new wave of supporters attracted by the new era of the team made the United Center one of the toughest, if not the toughest venue in the NHL.
That advantage was taken away in 2021 as it was in most cities in the league thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only in the final few home games were any fans allowed to watch the team, and even then, it was only a limited amount.
Tuesday night that finally changes, as the Blackhawks welcome a full house to the United Center to start of the home part of their 2021-2022 schedule.
Jeremy Colliton’s team hosts the Islanders in their first of 41 regular season games at the United Center this evening. It makes the first time the team has had full capacity for a game that counted in the standings since March 11, 2020 when they beat the San Jose Sharks 6-2.
The league was shutdown due to the pandemic the next day, and in 2021 the Blackhawks played in front of no fans for the majority of their 56-game schedule.
“I think we’ve looking forward to it for over a year, right?” said head coach Jeremy Colliton of having the fans back. “To be back in this building at the atmosphere that comes with it and the energy we can get from it.”
Beyond the year-and-a-half wait for fans, the team is eager to get a bit of a sluggish start to the season out of their system. The Blackhawks have trailed to start each of their first three games on the road and were only able to recover to get one point out of those contests.
That includes allowing three first period goals in a loss in the season opener against the Avalanche then four scores in Saturday’s loss to the Penguins. Perhaps having the crowd behind them again will help the Blackhawks find a way to start quickly for the first time this season.
“It’s upto us to use it by having a good start, because that can go either way,” said Colliton of the energy from the home fans. “We want to make sure we’re ready from puck drop and having some solid shifts and skating and getting pucks in, get on the forecheck, and we can build from there.”
At least they’ll have the fans by their side to do so.