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Blackhawks fans pack UC for pre-season game

September 25, 2010 8:43:05 PM PDT
Excited Blackhawks fans filled the United Center Saturday night to welcome the defending Stanley Cup champions back on the ice in Chicago.The Hawks met up with their rivals from Detroit for the very first at home preseason game. Hawks fans are hoping for a repeat of last season.

The team broke a preseason attendance record by hosting a capacity crowd of more than 20,000 fans at the United Center for the game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Hawks' fever did not die down over the summer.

At the 'madhouse on Madison,' fans were already talking repeat.

"Taking the cup again. That's it," said Ashley Martinez, Blackhawks fan.

"I'm excited, and I'm ready to win another cup," another fan said.

Blackhawks fans have high hopes this year, but it's a cautious optimism. The squad is without several of last year's players, following the team's off-season salary cap shuffle.

When asked who was going to be missed the most, fan Marty Milos said, "Chris Versteeg."

Another said, "I really like Byfuglien -- oh and Antti Niemi."

"Byfuglien, the Big Buf. Gotta love him," Martinez said.

But the Hawks still have a core group of stars, including Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. And despite the departure of goalie Antti Niemi, fans say they're pleased with the addition of veteran puck-stopper Marty Turco.

"He's better than Niemi," said Mary Milosovich.

Six blocks from the United Center, other Hawks fans were gathered at the bar West End.

"They got a couple of the same core guys. Now, they've got a target on their back. So, what are you gonna do?" fan Bill Flowers said.

For the self-described Blackhawks bar, the return of the red and black means green.

"They're huge for us. They really help business. And we couldn't be more excited that they're back," said Matt Doherty, general manager, West End.

Back at the United Center, expectant parents Jim and Molly Buczynski say their family's two newest Blackhawks fans are due any minute now.

"You never know," the couple said.

Fortunately, the game didn't go into overtime, and the Hawks came away with a win against Detroit. For fans, it was a positive sign for what they hope will be another historic season.


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