By Erin Barney
Champagne dripped from the ceiling. Table tops were used for celebratory dances. Glass snapped and cracked under the weight of more dancing on the ground.
The Ogden Chicago, a bar near the United Center, was in a state of chaos on a night last June. But it didn’t matter. The Chicago Blackhawks had just won the 2015 Stanley Cup.
“Hawks fans are crazy,” said Joe Magoonaugh, managing partner at The Ogden Chicago. “Every single game, they always bring the crazy.”
That’s why Magoonaugh was pleased to hear about the World Cup of Hockey coming this fall.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettmen announced the return of the “best-on-best international tournament” in January, and last week, rosters for the eight participating teams were released. The Blackhawks will be well and widely represented with nine of their players spreading out between teams United States, Russia, Sweden, Europe, Canada and Finland.
The resurgence of the event after a 12-year hiatus caught fans and businesses like Magoonaugh’s off guard. He had never heard of it, and isn’t sure what to expect in terms of its world-wide popularity.
But he has no doubts about its effect in Chicago.
“For Hawks fans, there’s always something at stake,” Magoonaugh said. “You never know what Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews are going to do. Fans want to see these guys no matter what.”
Kane and Toews will represent rival teams USA and Canada, respectively. The popular all stars each have such loyal fan bases, Magoonaugh said he wouldn’t be surprised to see an inner-establishment divide when the two face off September 20.
“Once they drop the puck, they’re both trying to score,” he said. “There’s such a rivalry.”
Having never seen the event himself, bar manager and life-long Hawks fan Matt Hoegland said he plans to treat it like the Olympics. Other than playoffs, it’s his favorite time to come to work—tips and people watching make the long hours worthwhile.
Since joining the Ogden team two years ago, Hoegland has come to recognize Olympic and playoff game days as city-wide holidays for Hawks fans. Patrons belly-up for their first round starting early in the afternoon.
“They must just take vacations,” Hoegland said. “Where could they possibly work that at 2 p.m., they can be here?”
They are equal parts eager and territorial.
Showing support for the opposition is a risky move at the Ogden. Kianna Martinez, an Ogden bartender, said she recently saw a Detroit Redwings’ jersey-donning fan get verbally ripped apart by the Hawks backers.
She said it wouldn’t surprise her to see those not in red, white and blue during the World Cup forced into back-of-the-bar exile.
For the first time and in an effort to bridge the intense rivalry gap, the NLH added team North America to the World Cup competition pool. This American-Canadian combo squad has a maximum participation age of 23. No Blackhawks were asked to lace up for the young team, but Vice President and General Manager, Stan Bowman, will represent from the bench.
Team North America has already been labeled as the underdogs, a brand Chicagoans aren’t used to rooting for when it comes to hockey. But with the added presence of Bowman as general manager, the newbies could become a local fan favorite.
“Living here, you kind of absorb all those sports, unfortunately,” he said. “But we stick it out. Win or lose, good or bad.”