There's no better way to get pumped for the Blackhawks' playoff run than to share the experience with fellow hockey lovers at a sports bar. You can stake out some space at a bar that's been catering to hockey for nearly a decade or more—we've dubbed them The Old Guard here—or try out a newer hangout that's opened within the last five years. Some bars are official partners of the team, offering specials on designated drinks and hosting big parties during away games. Others attract fans with perks such as massive TVs and free shuttles to United Center. Wherever you choose to hang out, plan to show up early and be prepared to cheer your face off.
THE OLD GUARD
Cork & Kerry
10614 S. Western Ave. 773-445-2675
While it just became an official Blackhawks bar last month, fans have been watching games at this Beverly pub since the '80s, and head coach Joel Quenneville and player Dave Bolland have been spotted there over the years. Nurse $2 Bud Light pints and watch all the postseason games on seven TVs inside and seven more in the beer garden.
7452 N. Western Ave. 773-465-0087
Open since 1950, this Rogers Park staple became an official Blackhawks bar as soon as the team started the program in the 2009-2010 season. The bar occasionally hosts road watch parties meant to simulate the feel of watching at the United Center, and former player and head coach Denis Savard has also been spotted here. Watch the action on 10 TVs while drinking $5 Captain Morgan, Ketel One, Fireball and Jack Daniel's cocktails.
The Beer Bistro
1061 W. Madison St. 312-433-0013
Since opening in 2005, this West Loop bar has become a huge hangout for pre- and post-game partying, especially when the Blackhawks win. Claim-to-fame appearances from the 2010 Stanley Cup-winning season include Dustin Byfuglien. The bar only holds 150, so regulars hoping to claim seats often arrive two hours before a game. Otherwise it's standing room only as fans crowd in to watch on 10 TVs.
Stanley's Kitchen & Tap
1970 N. Lincoln Ave. 312-642-0007
This Lincoln Park bar has been showing Blackhawks games since opening in 1993, but game-day crowds have swelled since the bar was the third stop on the Stanley Cup's tour in 2010. Those lucky enough to witness the appearance have some wild memories; owner Donnie Kruse recalls players picking up customers' babies and putting them inside the trophy. Former player Reid Simpson is reportedly a regular here and, thanks to Stanley's role as a sponsor for Johnny's Ice House hockey leagues, players kicking back with beers is a common sight. Game-day drink specials include $6 Fireball whiskey shots as well as $6 Ketel One, Jack Daniel's and Captain Morgan cocktails.
Crew Bar & Grill
4804 N. Broadway 773-784-2739
A hangout for gay sports fans since opening in 2004, this Uptown bar became a Blackhawks partner bar at the program's start. The 108-seat bar has been known to fill up with Hawks gear-clad fans 30 minutes before game time, though there's often some turnover as the game goes on. Staffers flash a goal light behind the bar whenever the Hawks score and play the same songs heard during games at the United Center—with fans often singing along. Captain Morgan, Jack Daniel's and Ketel One cocktails are all $1 off on gamedays.
THE NEW GUARD
1113 W. Randolph St. 312-929-4787
Blackhawks jerseys and hats are practically the game-day dress code at this West Loop bar. Fans pregame with specials such as $4 Bud Light drafts, $3 Fireball whiskey shots and $6 Jack Daniel's, Captain Morgan and Ketel One cocktails before riding to the United Center in style on a limo bus. Catch a ride back and show your ticket stub for $5 off your bill of $10 or more (or $10 off a bill of $20 or more) and take your chances on spying players from the team dropping by for dinner.
1645 W. Jackson St. 312-243-4276
This West Loop pub has only been open since November, but it's already gathered a loyal base of Hawks-watchers that file in up to three hours before game time for a view of one of 20 TVs, including a 6-by-10-foot screen. If you're a ticket holder, take advantage of the bar's free shuttle to and from the United Center, or just stroll over—it's a half-mile walk away. Reservations are recommended.