It’s no secret that the Chicago Blackhawks‘ fanbase consists primarily of bandwagon-jumpers. Rocky Wirtz’s successful ownership was preceded by a disastrous and often outright ridiculous period of control by his father, Bill, who single-handedly made Chicago hockey less than an afterthought. The story of the Blackhawks’ return to relevance is well-documented. The waiting list for season tickets is comically long and hasn’t moved in half a decade, and a home game at the United Center (UC) not selling out is unfathomable. As a city, Chicago has embraced the team as its only consistently great sports franchise. Being a Blackhawks fan — something that was met with either derisive laughter, pity, or confusion just 10 years ago — is now trendy.
Trendiness, of course, is fickle, and there is likely no better word to describe the team’s fanbase. In Game 2 on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center, the Blackhawks laid an egg in the third period. A 2-1 lead after 40 minutes turned into a humbling 6-2 drubbing, with a Jeff Carter hat trick leading the way.
Fans — and I hereafter use that term very loosely — left in droves as soon as the Kings scored to extend their lead to 4-2 with 11 minutes left in the third period. No, you are not misreading: to one or 2,000 fans, a two-goal deficit with more than half a period remaining was apparently too titanic a mountain to bother with (I imagine the phrase “17 seconds” would fall on deaf ears here).
The boos rang down from a number of corners of the arena, a dull but increasingly consistent swath of negativity sweeping over the spoiled crowd. About half of the seats in the UC were empty a minute after Los Angeles made it 5-2, with the lower bowl morphing into a ghost town. There were the typical expletives thrown toward the struggling hometown team by its supposed “fans”, who evidently were unaware that — earth-shatteringly shocking as it may be — the Blackhawks do lose sometimes.
Such is the nature of a fanbase composed chiefly of capricious frontrunners. The UC was pathetic on Wednesday night; if these purported “fans” will only bother to support the Blackhawks when things are going well, everyone is better off if they hand off their tickets to someone who actually cares.