For locals, Blackhawks overshadow allure of draft

By Sam Fiske and Scott Guthrie, video by J’nelle Agee

The second night of the NFL Draft can’t match the luster of the first. Round 1 gets the bigger headlines, the red-carpet treatment, the marquee prospects.

Sure, Draft Town still was busy Friday night. But if you were a Chicago sports fan, it was easy to get distracted elsewhere.

The Cubs were back home after an off day, but at least that game was in the afternoon. The White Sox were playing in the evening, but at least that game was on the road — although that wasn’t going to matter for TV or digital viewing.

And then there were the Blackhawks.

With the second round of their playoff series starting at 8:30 p.m. and at home, with the chance for a third Stanley Cup in six years at stake, the NHL was going to command primary viewing attention.


Patrons at the Union Park Lounge in Greektown were more focused on the Blackhawks than the second day of the NFL Draft. (Scott Guthrie/Medill)

Union Park Lounge, a Greektown bar, only had the draft on one of its 20-plus TVs. The rest featured the Blackhawks or White Sox games or the NBA playoffs.

According to Union Park Lounge owner Aaron Bilgin, customers asked to watch the draft Thursday night, but focused strictly on the Blackhawks game Friday.

“I’m just here for the Hawks game,” said Marty Weinberger, a native Chicagoan who only watched the first round on TV. “How much draft can you watch?”

At Sluggers in Wrigleyville, the bar showed the draft on a single TV during the day, but once the Blackhawks game started, the draft disappeared.

“It’s just like a crowd pleaser and it’s not that fun unless you go to the event,” said Dan Hopp of Darrien. “If you have a ticket, you go — you hands-down go.”

Ray Miller, 31 from Los Angeles, is in Chicago with friends for a “sports-filled weekend,” but wasn’t interested in attending the draft after the first round.

“Probably no more Draft Town; we are keeping up with it via the Internet,” said Miller. “But the draft is essentially done for us.”

Sluggers patron Justin Klein, who is from Florida, said people in Tampa would have shown more interest in the draft.

“It was kind of disappointing. Obviously, there is a Cubs game, there’s a Blackhawks game,” said Klein. “We came here from Tampa Bay for the draft, and it (the city’s enthusiasm for the draft) just wasn’t there.”

Outside Sluggers, Chicago resident James Sfikas said the draft warrants high attention, even after Day 1.

“To me, the NFL Draft is more important than anything else going on right now,” he said. “If it was the clinching game for the Blackhawks, that’s one thing, but it’s not.

“The draft is huge.”