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What does Pearl Jam have to do with the Chicago Blackhawks? A lot, apparently. Mark Lazerus of The Athletic published a lengthy piece on Thursday about the band’s connection to an NHL dynasty.

The piece reveals the story of former senior manager of game operations A.J. Dolan and “one of the great and most ridiculous running gags in game-ops history” at the United Center in Chicago.

The Blackhawks won Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013, and 2015 while using the most recognizable goal song of any NHL team. “Chelsea Dagger” by the Fratellis might’ve been easily associated with the team from the outside, but Dolan had other ideas.

“It started with a Pearl Jam song every period. But within a couple years, there were nearly 50 Pearl Jam songs in regular rotation. It became a running gag among fans and on social media, one fully embraced by reporters, in particular.”

He strategically snuck in deep cuts to make the trend less noticeable, but the crowd and the media began leaning into it. Playing “Don’t Give Me No Lip” while players argued with referees was one example of an excuse he’d use to work in songs.

Dolan initially set a goal to play one Pearl Jam song through the arena speakers in every period of each home game, but he exceeded his own goal on plenty of occasions. He set a record in 2017 on the day the band entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by playing 10 Pearl Jam songs, coincidentally matching the name of the band’s debut album.

People really are fanatical about this band.

Eddie Vedder and Patrick Sharp

Eddie Vedder, a native of Evanston, IL, became friends with former Blackhawks star Patrick Sharp while he played in Chicago. Sharp repeatedly named Pearl Jam as his favorite band in interviews during his playing career. He even called Vedder one of his heroes in 2013.


Sharp even introduced A.J. Dolan and Eddie Vedder at a concert at Wrigley Field.

After his tenure with the Blackhawks ended, Sharp returned to the United Center as a visiting player for the first time in 2016. A tribute video of career highlights played on the big screen in front of a screaming Chicago crowd with “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” used as the background music.

The unlikely connection between a Hall of Fame Rock & Roll band and an NHL franchise doesn’t live through a star like Patrick Sharp anymore, but the undying fandom of Pearl Jam heads could never be better represented than by the memories shared by Lazarus.

Pearl Jam: Top 50 Songs Ranked