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Blackhawks remember when nobody came

Image (1) UnitedCenter-thumb-250x166-11946.jpg for post 1698

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun has a great article up this afternoon on the Chicago Blackhawks and the incredible atmosphere present at their home games. He talked with Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, the original members of the current team and who were around in 2005 when things just a bit....different.

It’s easy to forget that despite leading the NHL in attendance the past two seasons, the Blackhawks had perennially been at the bottom of the NHL in average attendance. It didn’t help that the Hawks were a poor team in a rebuilding mode, whom local fans were completely unable to watch on local television.

Now there’s 21,000 at every game, the crowd goes nuts during the anthem, and the team is setting all sorts of television viewership records.

Patrick Sharp looks back on how it used to be:

“I remember my first game. There were 9,000 people and they announced 12,000,” Sharp said. “Times have changed, big time. A lot of new faces in the room, but there’s a few guys that have witnessed it. We remember what it was like, and that’s why we’re pushing even harder to keep it like this.”

As for that national anthem? Well, at least the players love it:

Madden cannot believe what it’s like at the United Center during the anthem.

“The national anthem [here] is, in my opinion, the best national anthem in sports,” the Toronto native said. “If you don’t get your blood pumping and your pulse racing after that ...”

There’s going to be an incredibly boisterous crowd tomorrow night as the Hawks hope to extend their lead to 3-0 in their series against the San Jose Sharks. There’s no doubt that success brings the fans, but it’s incredible to think that just a few years ago nobody was even watching this team play.