By now, you’ve probably seen the above clip, featuring Angry Hawks Fan, the furiously exuberant Chicago Blackhawks supporter that celebrates a Ben Smith goal with some sort of tantrum. The intensity of his goal celebration was simply too funny to let go, earning its own video upload from CanucksHD, his own topic at the HF boards, multiple animated gifs, and a spot in the game 2 highlight packages for TSN, CBC, and Sporstsnet.

My favourite line comes from the TSN package. Jay Onrait, after the Ben Smith goal: “That oughta make Blackhawks fans happy! … or very, very angry.” Yeah, angry Hawks Fan’s fitful fit is legend.

So who is this guy? Is he an escaped mental patient, maybe, or a passionate admirer of Ben Stiller’s performance in Mystery Men? Neither, as it turns out. Angry Hawks Fan is actually a soft-spoken native Chicagoan named Matt, in town to catch his team’s road playoff games and visit friends Adam Schwartz and Mike Johnson of the popular poker podcast Two Plus Two. As luck would have it, Adam follows us on Twitter, and was kind enough to put us in contact with Matt for a brief chat. Do enjoy.

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Harrison: I’m sure by now you’ve seen the clip that everybody’s talking about. What’s your take on it? What’s going on there?

AHF: Well, so the Blackhawks came out in game 1 and looked really flat early and ended up kind of getting embarrassed. I had flown out to Vancouver for the third year in a row for this series, and obviously it wasn’t going quite as well as it has in past years… we got embarrassed in game 1 at the beginning, so it was especially tough to watch them come out and do almost exactly the same in game two – just really flat for most of the first two periods, and it looked like, at the time, Ben Smith… a 22-year-old who’d just been called up… was the only one who was actually out there trying to make something happen, who realized that the playoffs had started.  Toews’ effort was there too, I guess, but that’s a given, though he looks hurt.  Sharp wasn’t bad.  But Kane and Hossa were nonexistent, and Duncan Keith was making stupid – uncharacteristic – mental errors, on both ends.  So when Smith scored, I’m not sure actually what I was saying, but… it was part being upset at the Blackhawks and kind of pumped, like, “Yeah, let’s go, lets do something!  I was a little bit surprised in the video, how I actually looked. I do look pretty angry… I guess it was just a moment of passion.

It happens. Now, I’m no expert lip-reader, but it looks to me like you’re saying, “Punch him in the face!” Am I correct here, or is it really just a string of unintelligible, verbalized rage?

I don’t remember exactly what I was as saying. I’m sure it wasn’t “punch in him in the face”, and I’m sure I wasn’t swearing. Besides that, who knows. Somebody told me they read the words “Ben Smith” from my lips, that’s as good a guess as any. But I really have no idea what I was saying.

What about the jabs that you did along with the passionate gobbledygook?

Those weren’t meant to be punches at all. I mean, I’m not much of a fighter… I saw some of those comments online… but if I was trying to punch someone I’d do better than *that* at least.

Yeah, it looked like you had kangaroo arms.

Haha, I guess.  It wasn’t anything about fighting.  After your team just scored… I don’t know why you’d want to start a fight then, except maybe metaphorically.

What did you think when you wound up on Sportsnet and Don Taylor started poking fun at you? Did you see that live or did somebody send that to you?

I don’t know if you know the Poker podcast that Adam and Mike do… but I’m friends with them, and was staying with Mike in Coquitlam. He had seen one of the early morning replays and recorded it for me.  When I woke up in the morning… well, at about noon, morning for me… he showed it to me.

What’s your reaction to being on TV and getting made fun of like that?

A minute after the goal, I got a call from a local friend I hadn’t heard from in a while who said he’d just seen me on CBC, and it was a lot longer than a quick glance.  Then a text from another friend, and then when I told Adam about it, he said he’d heard the same too from friends watching at home.  I thought it was amusing, kinda cool, but that that was the end of it… I guess not.  I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to find the clip online, but that turned out not to be a problem.

On Sunday morning, I found out about the post on hfboards… when my mom posted a link to it on my Facebook wall.  And then CBC replayed it multiple times. When I saw it, I was pretty surprised at how crazed I look, but not really upset by it at all.  I mean, I posted links to it on Facebook, and I’ll probably take those animated gifs and use them as my icon in forums or something.

Thats totally what I would do too. Now, it looks to me like you were sitting alone. Are you sitting alone?

Yeah, like I said, I have a bunch of friends in Vancouver, and for all the other games one of my friends has four season’s tickets… he offered me a ticket to games 1 and 5, but had already promised tickets to game 2 to others before he knew I was coming out. I was asking around and I couldn’t find anybody else that I knew to go with, so I ended up buying a single ticket to my own.

Maybe that had something to do with how into the game I was, how intense I looked.  It’s a totally different experience, a little eerie almost, one that most fans probably never have, being alone in enemy territory.  There’s no one to cheer with or high five or whatever… I could just stand and clap politely a couple times and sit back down, but that’s no fun, and obviously not my style anyway – but at the same time I didn’t want to be a total ass and overdo it, for my personal safety if nothing else.  Even for game one, sitting with Canuck friends, it’s tough to know how and how much to celebrate when your team scores, when everyone around you is pissed off. Sadly, how to celebrate never became an issue in game one.

So, when they finally scored, I was pumped up, and had a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth after watching everyone around me celebrate my team getting beat 4-0 for the first five periods of the series… but at the same time, I was conscious not to overdo it, which might explain, a little bit, the air punches that look like they only go halfway.

Now, Adam claims that you were sitting alone because none of your friends will sit with you. Care to respond to that?

Well, I don’t know.  That’s not really true, like I said I was with friends for all the other games.  One of them did really say he’d never sit with me again, but he was half-joking. I think.

I probably got a little bit obnoxious last year a couple times… when the Blackhawks were kind of taking it to the Canucks, I think in one of the six or seven goal games.  One story comes to mind… I was sitting with my girlfriend, also a Chicagoan, and I was probably pretty passionate then too, and a few beers in.  A couple Canuck fans had made some comments toward us when they’d scored, and then the Blackhawks scored maybe three unanswered within a few minutes, and I… well, I didn’t hesitate to give it back.  They didn’t like it, and started throwing peanuts at us… I threw one back, and it was well-aimed or lucky – and stupid of me to retaliate at all – but it got him right in the cheek, and stunned him for a second.  So, next he throws his beer at me, and him and his friend started coming at me from across the aisle and pushed me. Security showed up immediately and threw them out, but even that wasn’t the end of it.  I don’t remember how I found out — maybe they had a couple other friends who hadn’t done anything wrong and were still there — but somehow someone warned me that they were waiting outside for me.  We had a group of about eight of us meeting up to go out for dinner and drinks in Gastown after the game.  So, they were always outnumbered, and I made sure not to leave the stadium alone, but they tried… the guys were waiting outside the stadium and followed us all the way to the restaurant, and even waited outside the door for me to come out – I’m still not sure what they were hoping to do.

So, I’m not innocent I guess, but I’m not an asshole either.

To their credit, most of the Canuck fans around us were on our side, ready to defend us and tell security what happened, even apologizing for the random stupidity, and quick to assure me that’s not how the locals are.  The vast majority of Canuck fans and Canadians in general have always been wonderful, and I love the city, which is why I’ve made five trips here in the last couple years.  Yeah, three of them were for hockey playoffs and another for the Olympics, but at the same time I wasn’t rushing to take trips to Nashville or Philadelphia or San Jose last year for the playoffs.

What’s your read on this series so far?

Well, obviously I’ve been disappointed. It’s been a pretty frustrating series. The first two games I think we got outplayed as a whole, and Vancouver deserved to win, but maybe the last 40 minutes of both of those games I think the Hawks played them even or better. It’s disappointing, again, that they came out in game 2, after the start in game 1, and put themselves in another 2-0 hole, before they finally woke up.  I knew coming in that the Canucks were the better team this year, and that to win we’d need some aspect of the Canucks’ game to seriously misfire… or to catch some lucky bounces… probably both.  But the way Chicago came out of the gates in both games in Vancouver, I don’t know whether Canuck mistakes would have mattered.  It burns you up inside to watch everyone around you going crazy while you’re watching the season go down the tubes… especially so when it doesn’t look like your team cares.  The second halves of both games were better… but it was too late to matter.

Corey Crawford has been a pleasant surprise this series – and all year for the most part, but I think the difference is Luongo finally doing what he was always supposed to in the playoffs.  The last couple years, goaltending was supposed to be the one clear advantage for Vancouver coming into this series, and then he turned out average at best.  This year the Canucks have advantages pretty much across the board, and Luongo has played out of his mind on top of that.  That’s a tough combination to beat.

You’re still in BC… if the series come back to Vancouver for game 5, are you gonna be at that one?

I will, yes. I was hoping it would be at a 2-2 game 5, but I guess I’ll have to go with 3-1.

So you’re sort of famous now. If somebody comes up to you at game 5 and says, “Hey, you’re Angry Hawks Fan!” or wants a picture, are you gonna respond kindly or are you gonna tell them to get out of your face?

Oh sure, I’d laugh about it and smile… the whole thing is honestly a bit embarrassing, but it’s fun.  Even if I could, I wouldn’t go back and ask the CBC not to show me at all… maybe I’d ask for a more flattering clip, but oh well.  I’ll take it. I’ll be hanging out in the hallway outside section 112 between periods.  Feel free to stop by and say hi, I shouldn’t be hard to pick out of the crowd.

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Thanks to Adam Schawrtz for setting this up. Follow him on Twitter. While you’re at it, follow PITB too.

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8 comments

  1. Swedish Berries
    April 19, 2011

    He’s a pretty good sport about the whole thing ~ haha

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  2. Canucklehead_in_T.O.
    April 19, 2011

    Angry Hawks Fan is also Classy Hawks Fan. Hooray!

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  3. Josh
    April 19, 2011

    Excellent interview! Great job tracking this guy down – it’s interesting to get an insight into the person behind that clip.

    For the Canucks “fans” who threatened Matt last year, you’re a disgrace to the community. As a Canucks fan living in Montreal, I’ve been the lone island of blue in a sea of bleu-blanc-rouge on many an occasion, and even the times Vancouver has been stomping the life out of the Habs (dreadfully rare over the last couple of years, unfortunately) the Habs fans surrounding me were good natured and respectful, and I have had similar experiences in Toronto and Boston. There is a sense that even if you don’t like my team, you respect my passion and fanaticism. We may not be linked by a team, but we are all passionate fans of the game and that deserves to be respected.

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  4. Canucklehead
    April 19, 2011

    Good stuff man, Glad you enjoy making the trip up here!

    Thanks for doing this Harrison

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  5. Jeremy
    April 19, 2011

    This is fantastic — what a great sport, and a reminder of what it felt like to be on the other side last year.

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  6. Wisp
    April 19, 2011

    guy is pretty good sport! good visiting fan. I like him.

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  7. Aaron
    April 19, 2011

    Twoplustwo is also home to the Leafs “double fist pump” guy of recent fame.

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  8. TC
    April 20, 2011

    I’ve been friends with Angry Hawks Fan/Matt for a while now. I slept on his couch in Chicago and he slept on my spare mattress in Vancouver in the ’09 series. He’s responsible for me getting pelted with much more popcorn than I thought would be pelted on me without starting a standup comedy career. I was one of the escorts walking with him to the Gastown restaurant he speaks of. To be honest, I think he actually understates the amount of abuse he’s taken in Vancouver. I have to say, after going to a few games with him, that us Vancouver fans are kinda dicks. He would at times just get pushed and shoved during the intermissions with him doing nothing to instigate. People even went after his girlfriend a couple times. Surprisingly, I never got the same amount of abuse when I visited Chicago in either playoff series.

    I think the smartest move of his visiting fandom career was switching from a Patrick Kane jersey in 2010 to a Duncan Keith. Definitely got him a lot less abuse. The girlfriend got an Esposito jersey (even though she’s only 30 years old and probably wouldn’t be able to name a single teammate of Tony E’s) and that got her a lot of hardcore cred. So, he’s getting smarter as he gets more experience in Vancouver.

    Still, if this series somehow gets to seven games, there’s no f-ing way I’d want to be sitting anywhere near him. :)

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