Hawks Fans Around The World, Stand Hand-In-Hand
Hawks Fans.. they’re everywhere. Obviously there are plenty of North Americans currently working, studying or serving overseas. However, there’s also us: the few, the proud, the “Actually Foreign” Hawks fans. We battle Ass-O’Clock game times and massive indifference from friends and colleagues to follow our team. Some of us have never been to Chicago, let alone the UC, yet we consider ourselves as much a part of Hawks nation as anyone.
My own story starts with Da ’85 Bears (as so much else does) and has its twists and turns that led me to the ’09 WCF and the sealing of the deal. But this isn’t about me. Obviously this is a subject close to my heart, so I reached out to a bunch of my fellow Toilers-In-Timezone-Hell with a few questions. Which are below. These good folk are from Ireland, Scotland, Sweden & Germany. With the exception of Sweden, Hockey is either a minority sport or practically non-existent. Their words are their own, the italicized questions are mine. Next time you’re watching the Hawks, raise a glass to them. And if you’re in our neigbourhoods, look us up.
(Author’s note: these interviews were conducted in the early stages of the Minnesota series)
CtA: So, considering it’s hardly a popular sport in your part of the world, why Hockey and why the Hawks?
Sarah (Essbeee): Scottish, lives in Glasgow. Author and graduate student. Hawks fan since 2000. Three Hawks tattoos and counting!
There’s no sport like hockey. From the family feeling with the fans to the absolute passion of the sport hockey is like nothing else. Its not a sport its much more than that! Why Hawks other than because they’re the best? I like the underdog and when I started following them they were the underdog. And then came along Toews and Kane and Sharp and the Cup and its been an amazing ride!
James: 24, lives in Donegal, Ireland. Office worker by day, hockey fanatic by night, Blackhawks fan by the grace of God.
It was pretty simple really. I was an impressionable young lad in 2000, the PlayStation 2 had just been released and I was in dire want of getting some good games for it the moment that launched that were not Tekken Tag Tournament. One of the gaming magazine demo discs had NHL 2001 on it, I loved it, and I’ve been a hockey fan since. I went without allegiance for a good while, trying to find a team that I had a certain degree of affinity with (the Sabres and Ducks remain some of the teams I hope do well for themselves, I have an old Mighty Ducks jersey in my wardrobe), but honestly, at that point, they were just teams that I played with, it was before high-speed internet and well before streaming matches live online. Around 2007 or thereabouts, we finally got broadband internet at home, and a friend of mine from Chicago (who I had actually met on a soccer forum) encouraged me to get into watching the Blackhawks, hot off their new home-game broadcasting license. The rest, as they say, is history.
CtA: What is the biggest challenge to following the Hawks from your location? Timezones? Massive indifference from your friends/colleagues when babbling about “Last night’s awesome game” while brutally sleep-deprived ?
Timezone. I see far more of 5am than I really want to! Also none of my immediate circle of friends follows hockey so when I start talking about it you can see their eyes clouding over!
Oskar: The biggest problem to me is probably the planning. There takes a lot of planning to still get the hours of sleep a night that I need. If there’s a west coast game, it’s easy to just sleep before the game (around six hours), and wake up 4AM to watch the game and then start the day. If the game starts at midnight or 1AM, you can get a few hours of sleep after the game. The worst is the 2AM-3AM games and of course, this is the most usual as a Blackhawk fan. You try to get 3 hours before and 3 hours after, which sounds brutal. But all these years doing this has just made me used to it I guess. It doesn’t feel any more weird than it does for you guys when the game starts 7PM or 8PM. I don’t mind though the noon games on weekends, haha.
CtA: Who is your favourite Blackhawk and why? And is there a Hawks player who annoys you?
Thats so hard! Favourite there’s so many! Bollig (yes I know!), Crawford, Seabrook, Hossa (ofcourse!) are all favourites. Would be easier to say who isnt my favourite! A player who annoys me? Shaw used to but he’s definitely grown on me! Non hawks favourite player not that you asked is Danny Briere. So between the playoffs and wondering if he’ll play next year hockey is crazy for me right now!
CtA: How do you find interaction with the North American-based Hawks fans?
I think some don’t think we’re real fans because we don’t attend as many games. But some absolutely love that we follow the team! Met some really good friends through the sport.
I love interacting with other fans and talk to them about hockey, especially North American fans. If you talk to most Swedish fans (who don’t really watch NHL but still knows a lot of hockey), they will talk about the Swedes. I don’t mind talking about the Swedes in our team, but I like it more when it’s North American guys who complements them, because then you know they actually deserves it. I follow Chris on both facebook (where a lot of discussion can appear on the comment section) and twitter, and I’m also quite active on reddit’s r/Hockey and r/Hawks.
CtA: What are your predictions for this series/Playoffs? What is the key to Chicago becoming the home of the Big Shiny Thing again?
After the first game I predict i’ll be losing a lot of my nails! I think anything really is possible. They need to forget the season and forget everyone is tipping them to win it. They’ve worked so hard all season and they need to keep that up. With Captain Serious I dont really see that being an issue. I’m so proud to be a hawks fan!
CtA: Finally, what is your local language/dialect version of “Let’s Go Hawks”?
Sarah: Lets go Hawks! Please don’t hurt Bollig!
Oskar: I would guess if I just translate it, it’s “Kämpa Blackhawks”
CtA: Who are the most popular NHL teams in Sweden?
This is quite an easy answer. Me and my Islanders friend talks about this all the time. We have a lot of Rangers, Caps and Red Wings (ugh) fans here. Most of them though, are just saying they cheer for that team, but they don’t really watch the games. If you meet a Wings fans on a NHL forum though, they are probably fans like me, but if you are in Sweden and ask someone which team in NHL they follow, most likely, the answer is one of these three and they don’t watch the games. Swedish Elite League is so big, they don’t really need another league (since it’s at night). This has made me develop a hate for these three teams (they Wings hate was already there), because of the casual fans here in Sweden, which probably sounds stupid. Disgustingly, Canucks is probably the fourth most popular.
CtA: Do you ever feel like strangling Pat Foley when he mispronounces Hjalmarsson’s name?
Haha, I’m quite used to it. I don’t think there’s a single Swedish (or another European) name in the NHL that are really pronounced correctly. The American spin to the name is so standard. Oduya is probably the closest one though. Stalberg’s name is actually Stålberg and the ‘å’ is pronounced somewhat like the ‘o’ in ‘bowl’. As I said, I’m so used to it, that I sometimes even pronounce the Swedish players “the American way” to my friends.
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Nice job, mmD. So many Eurohawks fans: who knew? And at least one of them--Oskar, the Swede--knows the difference between complement and compliment (sorry Killion--as a teacher, it's my bugbear). James knows his hockey inside and out (and does a fine impersonation of a Chicago meathead, my frent). Corinna's comparison between team handball and hockey made me wish there were Corsi stats for team handball. Because all we have right now are the hit stats.