Friday, April 17, 2015

Blackhawks/Predators a hockey match-up to see who’s more juvenile?

To me, the first round of playoffs for the National Hockey League is coming across as who can behave in a more juvenile manner.

Our Chicago Blackhawks (favored at 8-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup championship later this summer) begin their athletic quest by playing the Nashville Predators (whom I still think sound like some sort of pro wrestling team).

THE BLACKHAWKS PULLED off a 4-3 victory Wednesday, and Game Two is Friday night in Nashville before they return for a pair of matches next week at the United Center.

Yet the activity has gained attention because of the way in which Nashville team officials seem determined to create a “home ice” advantage for the Predators (whose odds of winning the whole thing are 12-1).

This was the team that altered the way it made tickets available for the matches in Nashville so as to make sure out-of-town fans got as few chances as possible to buy tickets. People initially could only buy them at local Kroger’s stores, then were allowed to buy them on-line, if they lived in their local television station’s viewing area.

There also was the “sing-a-long” meant during the National Anthem prior to the match, which was meant to discourage the Blackhawks fans’ alleged tradition of making noise during the anthem so as to show their spirit – which Nashville fans are claiming is a sign of disrespect.

I’M SURE NASHVILLE fans want to believe that the whole rest of the country is about to demonize the Blackhawks and their fan base. I’ll be the first to admit that the Blackhawks fan behavior during the anthem is a trivial gesture that borders on dumb.

A part of me can’t really bring myself to defend Blackhawks fan behavior by claiming we’re showing our team spirit by drowning out the anthem. It does make us look like a bunch of boors.

But on the other hand, I can’t help but think that Nashville is showing why it is nothing more than “minor league” in professional baseball. The fact that it’s getting all worked up over trying to control the crowd really does extend the bush league mentality to hockey.

Now I’m not much of a hockey fan – to be honest, I have seen more games in person by the long-defunct Chicago Cougars than I have the Blackhawks.

SO I’M SURE there will be a few crackpots out there who will insist I have no right to an opinion about this flare-up. Then again, this is the land of the free and the home of the brave, and I’m more than willing to express my thoughts rather than think acting like a drunken idiot during the anthem is a cause célèbre.

Which is why I can’t help but take up the cause of the Hawks fans, whom I would only hope would show some level of class when they travel to Nashville – and then again when the playoffs resume next week on the West Side (where I can’t help but think the bulk of Nashvillians would be too scared to travel to).

Personally, I always find part of the crowd atmosphere that makes a sporting event worth attending is to have a mixture of people rooting for each team. Those teams that try to control the crowds to silence the opposition usually wind up being deadly dull to watch.

Is this Nashville’s way of showing that it really doesn’t deserve to have any franchises in the major sports leagues? Let them root for the Volunteers in SEC sports, and Sounds minor league baseball during the summer.

IT COMES ACROSS as being as juvenile as when the U.S. national team for soccer insists on playing the Tri-colors of Mexico in small cities with tiny Latino populations. Which is why it was a plus to see the U.S./Mexico match this week played before a full-capacity crowd at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas – which the U.S. wound up winning 2-0 despite the presence of so many fans rooting for Equipo Mexico.

Of course, the ultimate way to silence this minor league way of thinking about sports fan behavior is to settle the matter on the ice.

Let the Blackhawks go on to win this first round of playoffs and advance toward the Stanley Cup, while the Predators go back home in defeat.

And those Predators fans can reminisce about their behavior once again during the first week of May – that’s when the Iowa Cubs travel to Nashville for a four-game series and the Cubs’ top-level minor league affiliate can issue another drubbing to the Music City on behalf of Chicago.


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