After fans had a chance to meet current and former Blackhawks players during the Blackhawks Night festivities at U.S. Cellular Field Tuesday, one thing was abundantly clear: anticipation and excitement for the upcoming season has reached a fever pitch.
More than 1,000 season ticketholders came out in support for the event, the first of its kind for the team and professional sports in Chicago.
For Lisa from Chicago, a season ticketholder for more than 30 years, the opportunity for Blackhawks fans to meet their heroes was enough to get her excited about the direction of the organization.
"It's nice to see that the organization has been promoting the team, especially for the younger fans. It's great to see the kids be able to interact with the club, because it gives them a chance to hang out with the players. That's something that a lot of these kids don't get a chance to do.
"It's really a great promotion for the Blackhawks. I think it's very smart for the team to do something like this the before the season because I think it will let kids really get into the team. It's just been great to see that interaction first-hand. Everyone got to shake their hand, take their pictures with them and just hang out together."
"I love the Hawks, and I love hockey," added Lisa's friend, Susie, from Clarendon Hills, Ill. "I love Denis Savard, and the team is just going to be great this year. I'm so psyched for the season to start. I'm also excited for the Winter Classic in January; it's going to be nuts. My favorite player on this year's team is Andrew [Ladd], and my friend's [Lisa] is Sharpy [Patrick Sharp]. It was a thrill for us to be able to meet them. "
"We are so excited about the season starting and going to the games," said Jim from Frankfort, Ill., who brought his daughter Amanda to the event. "I think the crowd is going to be back into the games, and a nice full house at the United Center is going to be helpful for the team and fun for the fans.
"Tonight [Tuesday] was a great way to start off the festivities for the season. Our highlight was meeting all the players and Rocky [Wirtz]. I am a huge Blackhawks fan, and my daughter has been going to the games with me. She has been able to get all the players' autographs in her book. It was great to meet some of the hard-hitters, such as [Duncan] Keith and Adam Burish. I really like how hard those guys hit."
When Steve from Lisle, Ill., was asked to answer his 'One Goal' for the upcoming season, the life-long Hawks fan was quick with his response.
"It's an easy answer… to bring home the Stanley Cup. I think we have the parts in place to definitely get to the Stanley Cup final, and though we have a lot of younger players on the team I feel they are extremely mature and ready for the challenge."
Michael and Vicki from Chicago, who just bought season tickets for the first time, also shared the same sentiment as they left the park.
"We are looking forward to the team doing well this year. Our team has a loaded roster, as the front office did a great job this offseason. They have a lot of young players, like Kane and Toews, as well as some older guys that have been there before. We hope that everyone else in the city is as excited as we are about the season getting underway."