Shouldn't be too much longer for Blackhawks to welcome fans

  • The Blackhawks could be welcoming fans to the United Center before the end of the season.

    The Blackhawks could be welcoming fans to the United Center before the end of the season. Daily Herald File Photo

Updated 4/21/2021 8:58 PM

After Nashville defeated the Blackhawks Monday, Predators coach John Hynes was asked about the atmosphere inside Bridgestone Arena, with approximately 5,700 fans in attendance.

"We were just talking about that after the game," Hynes said. "It's loud. It's the best environment that we've played in this year."


It wasn't quite a full playoff environment, but in the age of coronavirus it definitely qualified. Nashville was able to up its capacity from 25% to 33% for Monday's game.

Now, based off Mayor Lori Lightfoot's comments Tuesday, it looks the Hawks and the Bulls will be allowed to host fans before the season ends.

"That would be great," said Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton. "We certainly would welcome the support and the atmosphere in this building. It's one of the best in the league, if not the best, as far as (getting) that little tingle in your neck when you're playing in front of that many people and the noise that comes with it.

"There's been a lot of work done in the organization to try to make that happen for a long time."

When the San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals begin allowing fans early next week, the Hawks will be the last team playing in the U.S. to be playing in an empty stadium. (Detroit, however, permits only 750 fans; San Jose will allow 500 to 1,000).

There are only six home games remaining for the Hawks: Friday against Nashville; Tuesday against Tampa Bay; Thursday, April 29, and Saturday, May 1, against Florida; and May 9 and 10 against Dallas.

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The Bulls have seven left, with the season finale May 16 against Milwaukee.

Hawks defenseman Connor Murphy was asked last week if it's frustrating playing in an empty United Center when every other arena in the Central Division has some sort of fan presence.

"I don't know if I'd say frustrating," Murphy said. "(But) the more games that go on, you more and more feel that appreciation for when you will have the fans and the appreciation for what it was like before.

"They're definitely times in the games that they pick you up and they seem to give you that extra adrenaline."

Calvin de Haan agreed, saying Wednesday: "Even on the road, it's energy you can feed off of. ... Whether they're booing or cheering for you, it doesn't really matter. You can kind of feed off that kind of stuff."

Finally: Before Monday there were nine players who had taken 40 or more shots on goal without scoring. Eight were defenseman; the other was David Kampf. The Hawks' forward finally scratched his name off that list with a second-period goal at Nashville that trimmed the Predators' lead to 3-2.

Kampf still has the lowest shooting percentage among forwards, with his 1-for-57 conversion rate slightly worse than the Senators' Derek Stepan (1-for-44) and the Rangers' Phillip Di Giuseppe (1-for-42). Kampf scored eight times in 70 games last season.

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