How To Love A Chicago Blackhawks Fan When Your Heart Belongs To The Colorado Avalanche
Thankfully before we discovered the magnitude of this crucial difference, my now husband and I had been dating for a couple of months.
Otherwise we would have been these people:
We started out all blissfully oblivious, as I suppose most romances do. I knew he was from Chicago. He knew I was a Denver transplant (since age 2....so please don't go all judgy on the non-native issue). I knew he was into sports. He learned I enjoy most live sporting events and cooking during Sunday football games on TV. But we really did not figure out the extent of this specific issue until a few months after we met. We were out at a bar one night here in Colorado and an Avalanche game started against the Blackhawks. It was January 14, 2014. The Avalanche scored first and things got real edgy real fast. His buddies from Chicago showed up and started asking some serious questions. "What do you mean she's not a Blackhawks fan?!??!..." like he was actively committing treason upon their beloved Windy City. For the rest of the game I watched in amazed bewilderment where I learned what Blackhawks fans do to try to help their team win: "Don't let her touch your jersey!!" our friend shouted while the Hawks fought back in the second period. My boyfriend ran to the jukebox and desperately blasted out "Chelsea Dagger" in lieu of not being in United Center after a Hawks goal. He followed it up with "Lakeshore Drive" for some added good mojo. By the middle of the third period I was banished to another table cheering for my beloved team who ended up winning. While I was in the rest room after the game the Chicago crowd got together and took a group photo flipping me the bird. In my own observation of certain stick throwing personalities I have seen on United Center ice since that moment, I believe their team would have been proud of them.
So here is what you do
I definitely had a dilemma. I mean, this guy was really hot and had shown some signs of other redeeming qualities as well (like the fact that I had met him right after he had just cooked an entire Thanksgiving spread for his daughter and a couple of bachelor buddies....), therefore I wanted to figure out how we could make it through this. So I set his ringtone on my cell phone to "Chelsea Dagger" and we continued to take steps forward together. Obviously relationships are about so much more than differences in sports team loyalties. My hope is that in all cases of life, love, and hockey rivalries, the following suggestions apply in helpful ways for you:
1. Have a sense of humor - A short while later when we decided to attend a game together, my boyfriend wanted to go dressed up as a dogcatcher wearing a Blackhawks jersey and chase Bernie the St. Bernard around the Pepsi Center. It would not be the first time I was simultaneously appalled and charmed by his humor. On the subject of the Pepsi Center here in Denver I need to pause and ask "WHERE DID ALL YOU CHICAGO PEOPLE COME FROM?" I've lived here my whole life and I never knew we were so saturated with Chicagoans until I showed up to cheer on the Avalanche and almost drowned in a sea of the wrong color of red. Avalanche fans do you realize how loud I have to yell to out-chant the "Let's Go Hawks" intruders on our home ice?? I could use a little help here people!!! Anyway my point here is, even if your darling opposing team fan boyfriend vocalizes his clever but insulting fantasies about demeaning your team's mascot, remember that he's still spending a date night with you and humor always makes for a good time.
2. Be true to who you are - Love him for who he (or she) is - My husband may deny it now, but there was a brief time where he lobbied for me to change my team loyalty. 'It would just be easier if you became a Blawkhawks fan....' I've seen other women sell out in this arena. The root of the issue goes back now almost 20 years for me and to his childhood for him. I was working at a sporting goods store when it was announced Denver would receive its' hockey team from Quebec. We were ecstatic! Years later I attended an Avalanche game so close to the due date of my daughter that I carried my overnight bag for the hospital with me 'just in case.' She was especially active during the loud noises in the Pepsi Center and during her toddler years we practiced her early memorization skills by reciting the Avalanche roster. I would say "Peter....?" and she would reply "Forsberg!!" I still have the size 2T Avalanche themed nylon warm up pants and jacket that she ran around in. She turned 15 this past winter. You cannot just switch hockey team loyalties no matter how handsome the suitor is. Likewise, because I know how deep my own love runs for my team, I recognize he feels the same about his and I would not even consider asking him to change.
3. Have a sense of humor - Our rivalry has led to some incredible comedic moments. Our household has now become a battleground for the hockey souls of the children within it. My husband's latest tactic is to tell a bedtime story every night about the sweet kids of Quebec city, whose hockey team was 'stolen away' by 'mean 'ole Avalanche fans.' Every night the tale has some dramatic new twist involving zamboni's in the middle of the night or some other bullsh** made up detail, and the little one happily hangs on every moment. Don't worry... he comforts her as he slyly shoots a smirk in my direction, Daddy will never let anyone take away our Blackhawks! Again, I am struck equally by how devilishly underhanded his approach is, and how much I love what a great father he is.
4. Maintain open communication and pick your battles - Despite our epic difference, we seemed to go along pretty well until the playoff season of 2014. Most couples have to make it through in-laws, often times some ex-factor drama, sometimes holiday seasons..... Our biggest challenge came in the Stanley Cup playoffs of 2014. In the first round Colorado met Minnesota. My charming gent purchased and set up a hockey goal horn for the playoff games. He even wired the goal horn to his sound system to make sure the entire complex knew when the team scored. I will admit my sense of humor wore off temporarily when he set the goal horn to Minnesota sound and played it for every goal during a very painful season ending series knockout. I removed myself from the tv room in what may be described as a stomping sort of fashion and his attempts to make me laugh for awhile were met with icy glares of resistance. The couch may have been preferable to the dog house he slept in that night. He explained later that though he is not the most traditionally romantic of fellas, all of his efforts were in fact a display of his affection (in that primitive, cave man like, clueless-to-what-a-woman-really-wants-but-with-the-best-of-intentions-and-don't-you-think-I'm-funny? sort of ways...) Although it is not true, I do find it satisfying that he refers to the whole experience as 'that one time' when I almost broke up with him. Hahaha.
And Then There's That Minor Joel Quenneville Issue
Here's the long and the short of it: As part of his extensive hockey history for 3 years in the mid 2000's, Coach Q was the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche. After mutually parting ways with Colorado he joined the Chicago franchise.
Under his leadership in Chicago the Blackhawks have now won 3 Stanley Cups in the past 6 seasons. Clearly the man has intergalactic superpowers. (Except during pregame practice for game 4 of the Stanley Cup this year - lol - you can google it). The way I see it is: Two parties can both be really great people but just not great for each other.
Plus now we have Patrick Roy as head coach and I freaking LOVE him.
Never forget why you fell in love in the beginning
Think back to the early days. You came together to make a team. You two versus the world and all of it's road rage and other adversaries that you come up against. Nobody has your back like your significant other and you should have theirs. Take the time to do small nice things for each other and make sure you acknowledge those when they are done for you. (He left me the last bite in the brownie pan the other night...you have no idea how much restraint that probably took for him). Forgive, forget, and move on from the things that make you angry - he probably did not do them on purpose.
Do not keep score.
Do not hold a grudge.
Do love each other every day like you don't know if it's your last.