If you're a hockey fan in Chicago, this will make your skin crawl: The Wolves have signed an affiliation agreement with the most hated team in the NHL -- the Vancouver Canucks.
Wow. I've always had a secondary rooting interest in the Wolves. Without a doubt, the Blackhawks are my main focus during hockey season, but I like the sport enough that I have no problem turning the Wolves game on when the Hawks aren't playing. All things considered, the Wolves have always run a classy organization. Their ticket prices are fair, and they've won four championships during their 17 years of existence. There's never been any reason not to like them.
I realize the Wolves' hand was forced to some extent. The Wolves had been affiliated with the Atlanta Thrashers since they joined the AHL in 2001. The Thrashers are moving to Winnipeg next season, which displaces the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. The Moose had been the Canucks' AHL affiliate, but now they are moving to St. John's, Newfoundland. Geographically, it makes zero sense for the Canucks to keep the Moose -- or whatever they're going to be called now -- as their affiliate, so all this set the wheels of change in motion.
But here's the thing: the Wolves have a great reputation in the hockey world. They take care of their players. The atmosphere around their team is a positive one. Surely, any number of NHL teams would have liked to partner with the Wolves. For some reason, the Wolves decided the Canucks were the best option.
That's going to make it difficult for me as a Blackhawk fan to continue to support them. I loathe Vancouver. Loathe their GM, loathe their coach, loathe their team and loathe their rioting, heathen fans. I can't in good conscience cheer for Vancouver Canucks prospects. For that matter, can anybody in the United States cheer for Vancouver prospects?
After all, Vancouver was loudly booed at the NHL draft in St. Paul, Minn. That's right. The Canucks were booed AT THE DRAFT. Everybody hates Vancouver. Nobody respects them.
When the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate (Rockford) comes to Chicago to play the Wolves, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Allstate Arena is full of fans cheering for the visiting Ice Hogs.
The Wolves are really about family entertainment, and I'm sure moms and dads and kiddies will still be out there cheering for them. However, I think the hockey fans in this metropolitan area are going to pause before plunking down any of their hard-earned dollars to cheer for an organization affiliated with the Vancouver Canucks. That just stinks.