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Chicago’s convention an example to follow

For the sixth straight year the Chicago Blackhawks have hosted their annual convention in downtown Chicago right off Michigan Avenue. For Blackhawks fans, it’s a fun-packed weekend. But there are lessons to be learned as well.

For the first time former NHLer Wayne Presley attended the convention. While sitting on one of the various discussion panels, where players, coaches and fans discuss various Blackhawks topics, Presley mentioned that he was Vice-President of the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association.

Presley was born in Dearborn, Michigan and was drafted 39th overall by Chicago in 1983. He spent seven years in Chicago before moving on to the San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Presley ended his career in the International League, though not a terrible spot to be since he was playing in his home Michigan for the Detroit Vipers.

While he has roots in Michigan, Presley admitted that he still loves the hockey energy in Chicago that swirls around the Blackhawks. He especially commented on how impressed he was with the fan turnout and excitement around the convention.

He was hinting at the fact that a convention weekend that the Blackhawks have, as do the other former John McDonough organization, the Chicago Cubs, might be something that the Red Wings should look into.

And then he outright stated that he, along with the Red Wings Alumni Association, look at the Chicago Blackhawks Alumni Association as an example to follow. Basically, he’s looking at Chicago for ideas to copy in Detroit.

He’s always been considered a bright guy. Things haven’t changed.

Chicago's convention an example to follow
Several Blackhawks alumni join Bob Verdi on the “Remember the Roar” panel.

Chicago’s convention brings in thousands of fans to downtown Chicago every year. The passes, which sell for over $100 each, sell out in a matter of hours. VIP passes are auctioned off. As are game used equipment, autographs, and other memorabilia. Food and drinks flow non-stop. Surrounding restaurants are always busy, and the Hilton Hotel, where the convention is hosted, sells out room packages every year. The bottom line is the convention makes a lot of money for the city, the team, charity organizations, and private vendors.

The reason the money is flowing and the fans are flocking, excitement for the team and the game. Chicago is one of the richest hockey cities with a heavy emphasis on tradition and pride. New fans show up, still riding the energy from last season and excited to star the next. Long-time die-hard fans show up with that same excitement, but thrilled to be a part of the story and get that much closer to their heroes and tradition.

Detroit is in the same situation. No, they don’t have any recent Stanley Cup rings to show off, but they do have quite a few rings to display. The history, tradition, and excitement is there, as Michigan is a hockey state. Detroit would be an ideal hockey city to reproduce a summer convention for the passionate fans. What better place than Hockeytown?

In fact, the rest of the Original Six teams could follow suit. Or any of the teams in the league for that matter. While the excitement and tradition in Arizona may be considered lacking at best when compared to Chicago, Detroit, Boston, or New York, there is still potential to build that fan base; to build that history.

It has to start sometime and it has to start with the focus on the fans. Chicago has done a great job and now the rest of the league has to follow if the sport of hockey is to build a larger fan-base.



David Schauer is an award-winning, professional writer who has been involved in organized hockey for over twenty years. He has been published hundreds of times; about the same number of times he has been checked into the boards.

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