An Incredible Sight

The heroes on the ice gave back to the real heroes in uniform on Saturday and I was lucky enough to get a firsthand view of it.  I had the incredible opportunity to watch USA Warriors and the Chicago Blackhawks private skate from the glass at the most unlikely of places, Soldier Field.  Standing on the 20 yard line of the infamous stadium on an incredibly windy, yet sunny day I got to witness my favorite team play rat hockey with a group of men and women who sacrificed so much for our country and it was an experience I will never forget.

I volunteered to work the Office Max Hockey City Classic media relations staff.  Late Friday night I got an email about this wonderful event and how after our walk-through we could watch this take place.  I had no idea what to expect, it was cold, and the team had a game the night before. The other volunteers and I lined up to watch both teams enter through the tunnel opposite of where the Bears enter and everyone had a smile on their face. Every member of the team and coaching staff attended and even some of the Hawks brass was there. The Hawks went through their warm ups, stretched and more or less just screwed around. Then the Warriors took the ice to a big cheer from about the 50 people in attendance. They skated what appeared to be 20 on 20 for about 40 minutes.

There were four goalies and each took turns at the opposite ends of the ice.  It was dangles and snipes from both teams, fake elbows and slashes all around. Fun was had by all and I genuinely mean that. Joel Quenneville spoke with the Warriors coach the whole time and at the end all the guys came together for a keepsake picture and hugs.

I think the biggest thing that I will take away from the event Saturday was the genuine class and enjoyment that each Hawk player showed on the ice. Whether it was Patrick Kane setting up someone from the Warriors with a sick backhanded pass to score on Ray Emery or the constant goofing around everyone on the ice shared. I saw a real enjoyment of everyone‘s face and real reverence for the event that had just taken place.

In the end it was the Blackhawks honoring our heroes, there was no spectacle, no real publicity just a quiet, semi private event to show gratitude to people that have sacrificed so much. To me it was 40 guys playing shinny on an outdoor rink; I didn’t see millionaires and war veterans, I saw hockey players having fun and playing hockey in its purest form outside on a cold winter’s day.

A special thanks to Intersport for the wonderful opportunity to work with their media relations staff and for showing why Chicago is the best Hockey Town in America with such a great event that was the Office Max Hockey City Classic.

  • JesusMarianHossa

    So simple. So great.

  • JesusMarianHossa

    And now my snarky comment: Hawks finally played on a surface worse than their own barn for once.

  • 10thMountainFire

    Hawks fans, you guys know how much this means to the dudes involved. We’re high for weeks afterward on the experience. The best part is at no point do you feel it’s a put-on or simply going through the motions. From Water Reed to The Anthem and things like at Soldier Field, the entire Hawks organization is genuinely proud to do this for veterans. It’s an experience no one forgets. Best organization in sports.

  • 334Rules

    That must have been terrific! I skipped my usual seats at the UC on Sunday to take in the double header at Soldier Field, and I have to say that it was terrific. Having attended the Winter Classic when it was at Wrigley, I can tell you that this was 1000% better in terms of sight-lines, facilities, pretty much everything. They had the United Club open to all for warming and all the food stations were open for business. The food was top-notch and the beers were no more expensive than the UC. And different squads of Mites played in between each period of the two games. I hope if they ever bring the WC back to Chicago they do it at Soldier Field.

    • thefearlessfreep

      Was there as well, in the United Club. The sightlines as you mentioned were great. Really didn’t miss anything.
      I am proud to be a Hawks fan.

  • Accipiter

    Great stuff.

  • The 7th Hawk

    With that last comment at the end, I really do hope they can label Chicago as “Hockeytown” and not Detroit. But in all seriousness, this is awesome. The Blackhawks do so much for current and former military members, that it really is one of the most classiest organizations in Chicago, and around the World. From worst as ESPN had them written in 2004 to the best.

  • Wardrums

    Thanks for posting

    Your not telling me even Tazer took it lightly are you?

  • MoneyBoy

    Joe, thanks for the great article!! It’s just wonderful that the boys came out for the event.

    10thMountainFire … saw your article a while ago. Glad you had the chance to do the anthem. And, like everyone else, sincere thanks for your service!

  • justforkicks

    That is awesome, thanks for sharing!

    I think one of my favorite little tidbits to come out of it was Toews getting into a “fight” with the captain and Toews letting him pull the sweater over his head.

  • ballyb11


    Pure Class.

  • ahnfire

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience Joe!

    I love our team. They’re the best.

  • Michael Davis, USA Warriors

    Joe – You hit the nail on the head. As a member of the USA Warriors team, I would say the experience was akin to a bunch of kids on a pond playing free-for-all hockey. The Hawks players, coaches and members of the staff were incredibly humble. I stopped a few times during the skate to pinch myself, “Holy Shit, I’m banging in the corner with Frolik and Brookbank!” Or joking with Johnny Oduya about blown coverage on a goal. Overall, it was an event the USA Warriors will be talking about for years to come.

    Thanks to the Hawks, and to Joe for a great article.

    • Joe DeTolve

      Michael I am so glad you guys got to do this, it was really an amazing thing to see..

    • ahnfire

      Michael, thank you so much for your service! I’m so glad you got to have this experience. It sounds like you guys had a wonderful time. 😀