Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Locker room tour at the United Center



If you're a member of the Chicago Standbys, the "Ambassador" level membership includes a locker room tour - as in, the Chicago Blackhawks' locker room. Of course, it'd be wildly cool to have this happen in-season, but the UC is a busy place - and no matter when it happens, it's a thrill nonetheless! I found out when my assigned time would be, and my friend and I made the dash over to the UC at lunch for the tour. 

We were led down into the depths of the UC, down hallways and staircases that you'd normally only get to see if you're a member of the team, staff or press. There's lots of pictures of past UC events on the walls.

Eventually, you get down to the lower concourse that circles the arena below the arena floor level, and walk down the hall that is familiar from all those videos and from on TV, watching the athletes arrive for games. The Blackhawks' and Bulls' locker rooms are not the only ones down there; there are a number of auxiliary ones as well, used for concerts and other events; as well as a workout room, offices, meeting rooms, an x-ray room (gotta keep those athletes in one piece!), and more that we didn't get to see. 

The Bulls and Blackhawks locker rooms are diagonally across the hall from one another. Iconic figures from both teams stare at each other from murals on opposite walls. The Bulls mural has a bit of court floor in it; the Blackhawks one has two columns of shards of sticks (above).



And here, below sections 101-102-103, is the inner sanctum for the Blackhawks, marked by a gleaming door. We're told two rules before going in: don't open any closed doors/drawers, and don't step on the Indian head logo. (Well, if you're a fan, you already know that, right?)

There's a short hall inside the outer door; a short hallway filled with photographs of the iconic trophies of hockey, including of course the Stanley Cup. Each picture has a listing of dates and players who have won it.

I was looking at the one under the picture of the Stanley Cup, which read "1934 1938 1961".  The next time the players walk this short hallway to start the season, that sign will have another date on it.


The Blackhawks shield just inside the locker room. You'll notice that one stick is a regular player stick and the other is a goalie stick; and there's netting in the backdrop.

You see this shield in the "Hit the Ice" video - Seabrook pushes through the inner locker room doors at 0:16 (the area of the locker room w/the Indian head logo would be behind you at this point), and see the shield ahead, then if you turned left, towards the ice, you would see Sharp plucking a stick from a wall frame full of them.


Straight ahead as you enter the locker room is the hallway - the ramp to the ice. This being the off season, the sticks were mostly gone, but you can't help but think of that moment when you're sitting in the arena, waiting for the game to start, and the Jumbotron shows the players striding up that hallway to the team box, and out onto the ice. 


Above the ramp is a sign which proclaims "EARN IT". 

Then there's the room:



(This isn't me. ;))

Not saying a lot about the room itself except that it looks a lot bigger empty than it seems on TV. I'm sure full of some two dozen players, some coaches and a bunch of reporters that it feels quite different, in many ways. But it was still pretty cool to stand there and think about a game day, imagine the energy, think about what it must be like to do something something really fun and exciting that you love for a job, that simultaneously brings excitement and happiness to a lot of people.

Being a rock star would be pretty cool, but on the whole, I'd rather be a hockey player.




6 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing you photos!

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  2. Was there anything they wouldn't allow you to take pictures of?

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  3. Not really, no, but it was more limiting where we could go - ie, although we could see the shower area from where we were allowed to walk around, we weren't allowed to walk through that area, and we didn't go into the therapy (tubs, sauna, etc) area beyond.

    The 20-30 min it took for the tour felt VERY short, time just flew! :)

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  4. I was also at that tour, and getting to walk around on "hallowed ground" was indeed awesome. Running into one of my favorite bloggers there was pretty cool too. Love your blog, and the pics are always great - especially the second to last in this post...haha! Looking forward to the season and more great commentary on it here.

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  5. It was cool to meet you! :) I was totally shocked to meet somebody who knew my blog just randomly like that!

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