I’ve long suspected the fortunes of our local sports teams have an impact on the economy of Forest Park. To prove it, I conducted a survey. I found that two out of two tavern servers said that a playoff run by a Chicago team greatly increases their business. The crowd that’s currently packing our bars is coming to watch the Blackhawks on their march to the Stanley Cup.

I must admit I never watched hockey until the Hawks finally put their games on television. Now I’m as hooked as the craziest Canuck. Even on the small screen the speed and power of the sport comes across.

Hockey has hard-hitting like football and there are fights but it’s not so easy to clean someone’s clock when they’re wearing a helmet and face guard. Rule changes in recent years have transformed the game from a plodding fight-fest into a clean, fast-flowing skate-fest.

As for the old rules, penalizing players by making them sit in a box is truly inspiring. I also like how the referee can kick a player out of a face-off for being too frisky. It’s OK to mash a guy into the boards but don’t shove him from behind.

When hockey players are roughed up, they’re incredibly resilient – jumping back on the ice with fresh stitches. Even the coaches look like they could spit nails. I also like the international makeup of the sport, with many stars coming from Europe and as far away as Canada.

The Blackhawks brand of hockey is especially compelling. The players wear the best logo in sports, the proud profile of the chief. The scream-filled national anthem at home games provides one of sports’ spine tingling moments.

The Hawks have a legacy of all-time greats but were stuck in hockey’s doldrums for years. The current edition is a potent mixture of rising stars and proven veterans. They have provided some unforgettable moments during these playoffs. None more than their comeback win in the second round, when the Hawks were behind a goal and down a player with only 15 seconds left. I was on the edge of my driver’s seat listening on the radio, as they scored in overtime.

Hockey is, of course, better seen than heard, preferably in HD, if you want to follow the puck. No other sport is better in person, though. I’ve been to two Hawks games. At one, the woman next to me asked me how many points a goal scored. At the second, the Frenchman next to me kept exclaiming, “Ooh, la la,” there was so much action.

So, if you’d like to watch the Blackhawks with a clamoring crowd, come to one of our taverns. You’ll have plenty of company and the warm feeling that you’re contributing to the local coffers. Go Hawks!