This trip was, in a word, AMAZING. We’ve wanted to see the Blackhawks for years, partly because of Jonathan Towes and Patrick Kane (who I’m still upset about the Flyers missing out on in the draft) but more so because of the man who sings the national anthem, Jim Cornelison. Jim is an opera singer and is hands down the best anthem singer in ALL OF SPORTS. For anyone that disagrees, I challenge you to find a person who whips the crowd into a frenzy like he does. Before we jump too far ahead, I’ll tell you about the travel itself and what a great city Chicago is.
Upon landing at O’Hare, Colin immediately got excited because it was decorated for Christmas and he recognized the terminal we were in from the Home Alone movie (one of his favorites). He also got to use his first payphone and had one of those “what’s that” moments that made me feel old.
Getting to downtown Chicago is easy enough by jumping on a train which drops you off a few blocks from the Magnificent Mile. After checking into the hotel, we dropped our stuff and walked the city for a bit. Chicago is a really beautiful and walkable city. Admittedly, I enjoy architecture and there’s a lot to take in if you also enjoy that. I was hoping to take a river architecture tour but we didn’t get a chance to do it.
We found the Blackhawks team store and spent some time there checking out the memorabilia and surrounded by Blackhawks gear. By the way, their jerseys are arguably the best in all of hockey.
As we were walking back past our hotel on the Mile, we say a massive crowd lined up and, after asking about it, we learned that it was the grand opening of the largest Starbucks (The Reserver Roastery) in the world. No joke, there were ROWS of people stretching the better part of a block to get in. The picture below doesn’t do justice to how absurd this was.
We went to the other side of town to grab some deep dish at Pequod’s on the recommendation of Brian Sweeney (Thanks Brian!). It took over an hour for them to bake the pizza and it’s one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. Highly recommend Pequod’s if you’re ever in Chicago.
We made our way over to the United Center, an arena that’s always been high on my list, and got some great pics with the statues out front. The arena does a great job advertising the game from the outside which had us further excited. We saw the Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull statues and I’m embarrassed to say we missed the Michael Jordan statue but this is a hockey trip.
We did our usual inside – grabbed our puck, checked out our seats, etc. Colin has always liked a number of Blackhawks players so he went down to the tunnel. He got to bump fists with a number of players but the best part was that Dylan Strome tossed Colin a warm-up puck and he was on the big screen.
I mentioned at the start that seeing Jim Cornelison sing the anthem and I’ve included the video below. Before he sang, some of the fans we were talking to mentioned that as THE thing to see at the game and told us to make sure we were in our seats for it.
The game was great, with the Blackhawk winning and we got to hear their goal song, Chelsea Dagger, from the Fratellis who are one of my favorite bands.
In the end, I had really high expectations for this trip and was worried that it wouldn’t live up to them. Chicago and the Blackhawks met those expectations in every way. We checked off another Original 6 team and have now seen 4 out of the 6 original NHL teams. On to the next city…
We flew right into Chicago on Sunday and got right on a train to downtown where we got to our hotel and saw a bunch of different sites like the biggest Starbucks in America, the Blackhawks store, and the Lawrence river. Once we checked in to our hotel we walked around the city and went to Pequod’s pizza and had the best deep dish pizza. It was also Sunday so we watched the NFL games while waiting and eating pizza.
After that we saw where the Chicago bulls practice but once it started to get late we went to the game at the United Center where the Chicago Blackhawks played the Buffalo Sabres.
Once we went inside you can tell how excited people were. We got a shirt to support the home team and went to where the players walked out. I got to high five the whole team and got a warm up puck thrown to me by Dylan Strome and I was on the big screen!
After that we went to our seats and heard the best anthem singer ever Jim Cornelison. But once he was done we watched a well fought game that ended in a 4-1 win for the Blackhawks. After the game it was late so we went back to our hotel for some shut eye.
The next day we woke up and went to see some more awesome sights like the Giant Bean. I never thought it would be that big. We also went to Millennium Park and an Apple store that looked over Lawrence River. But even though we had a great time all things have to come to an end. Chicago was a blast and was definitely one of the most enthusiastic cities I’ve ever been to.