(CBS) It’s no secret that the Nashville Predators don’t appreciate Chicago Blackhawks fans coming to Bridgestone Arena and taking over.
So once again last night in their 3-2 home win against the Blackhawks, the Predators utilized passive-aggressive tactics to try to silence the visitors.
The Predators chose to play “God Bless America” instead of the national anthem before the start of Thursday’s game, a move the organization had employed before as a way to quiet Blackhawks fans, who are famous for cheering loudly throughout the Star-Spangled Banner at the United Center as the talented Jim Cornelison belts out the anthem.
The origin of Chicago fans cheering wildly during the national anthem dates back to the 1980s, according to this New York Times article. Some say it started in 1982, while everyone agrees it took off in 1985 when the Blackhawks hosted the heavily favored Edmonton Oilers in Game 3 of the conference finals.
The Predators went to great lengths to shun Blackhawks fans, as the franchise had another campaign to keep Chicago’s red shirts out of the arena. Thursday’s game was included in all season-ticket packages that were sold, season-ticket holders could buy extra tickets before the general public and an exchange was set up in which any Blackhawks red shirt could be turned in for a Predators shirt, according to Yahoo Sports.
Plus, free popcorn was reportedly offered to those in gold.
The promotions “didn’t work,” said Jay Zawaski, the Spiegel and Mannelly executive producer who was in attendance last night. Zawaski estimated at least 40 percent and perhaps more of the fans were Blackhawks supporters.
“They couldn’t possibly have put every Hawks fan on camera,” Zawaski said. “There’s no way. It was crazy. For a Thursday night very early in the season, it was pretty crazy to see as many Hawks fans there as there were.
“It’s one thing to try and get your building full of your fans. I understand that. But they’re taking this to a level — the work you use — ‘paranoid’ is correct. It’s kind of embarrassing. They do so much to get rid of Hawk fans. They make scoreboard videos mocking Hawk fans and things like that. The whole atmosphere of the game last night from the Nashville audience was more negative toward Chicago than positive toward Nashville.
“More or less, the game was about the Hawks.”
Listen to Zawaski below.