Hawks split between Bears-Packers

CHICAGO -- The way the Chicago Blackhawks captivated the city during their Stanley Cup run and victory parade last year was not lost on the other athletes in the city, and now it's the Hawks' turn to become fans.

Several Blackhawks -- but not all -- are rooting for the Chicago Bears on Sunday when they host the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

"I think it would be pretty awesome to see a sports team do what we did last year and keep this city alive the way it was last spring," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said.

There is no shortage of football fans among the 23 Hawks players and coaches. But not all are rooting for Chicago. Jake Dowell and Jack Skille hail from Wisconsin -- and will be wearing green and gold after taking off their red and black after Sunday afternoon's game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"I'll probably get a lot of Chicago people ticked off at me for saying this, but I have to go with the Packers," Dowell said. "I think it will be an awesome game. I'm sure Packer fans are doing everything they can to get tickets around here."

Dowell is from Eau Claire, Wis., and went to the University of Wisconsin, so there is no doubting what color he bleeds.

"I have a lot of Packer stuff," he said. "I have some sweatpants and sweatshirts I can dig up that I used to wear on a daily basis."

Being in the minority won't make for an easy week.

"It's funny, because all of a sudden they became huge Packers' fans," Patrick Sharp said within earshot of Dowell. "Haven't heard from them all year long, but now they are the biggest fans.

"But I know my boy Robbie Gould, and the Bears are going to pull it out on Sunday."

Skille is from Madison and also went to the University of Wisconsin.

"I might roll in here with a cheesehead," Skille said. "Maybe one of my relatives can send one down."

The Hawks are appreciating the buzz in the city for this game more than they could for their own run to a championship.

"You probably realize a little more how crazy this town gets when there is a sports team in the running for a championship like that," Toews said. "You try and stay away from that outside stuff when you're in the middle of it all because you just want to focus on hockey."

Sharp felt the buzz last spring but didn't notice it the same way he is now.

"We were so focused on hockey it was tough to soak in everything that was going on," he said. "It was neat to go out to dinner and see the Blackhawks fans everywhere. That's how it is all winter long with the Bears. I'm a Bears fan right from September until now."

Dowell understands he might not only be dealing with a hostile Flyers team on Sunday afternoon.

"It could prove not to be very smart, but I'm excited for the Packers," Dowell joked. "[A guarantee] could come back and bite me. I will get booed. [It's a] tough crowd out there."

There could be some friendly wagering going on between friends. Skille and Sharp attended the first Bears-Packers game together.

"I'll bet him whatever he wants to bet," Sharp said. "Whatever makes him nervous."

Skille's response?

"I hope my boy Aaron Rodgers will take care of business."

And back and forth it went. Even Joel Quenneville had to get a thought in with some of his trademark intensity.

"I love football. Let's go Bears," he said.

On Sunday, the Hawks will first unite to try to beat Philadelphia on the ice, then a few will go to their separate corners for the NFC Championship Game.

"It's going to be great," Skille said.

For one side or the other.

Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com.