(cheer up, Chicago hockey fans. Your love for Pat Sharp is no longer trapped in the closet)

Neatly deflecting attention from a 3 game losing streak, the Blackhawks dropped the following press release on a breathless populace earlier today :

The Chicago Blackhawks and Comcast SportsNet have announced that Comcast SportsNet will televise their first home game of the season on Sunday, November 11 when the Blackhawks play host to the archrival Detroit Red Wings at 6:00 p.m.

The November 11 game will be the first in a series of home games to be broadcast live and in high-definition on Comcast SportsNet. The full schedule will be released next week with additional home games airing throughout the remainder of the 2007-2008 season.

œIt™s time to share the energy and excitement of the Blackhawks with all of our fans, said Blackhawks Chairman W. Rockwell œRocky Wirtz. œWe are entering a new era and putting home games back on TV is the first step to supporting our great players and fans.

As the Sun-Times’ Len Ziehm explains, the November 11 telecast is of some historical importance.

Wirtz’s late father, Bill, the Hawks’ president for 41 years, was adamant in the belief that televising home games wouldn’t be fair to season-ticket holders. His stance became team policy, though an increasing number of staffers opposed it. For years the standard player/coach response was that the TV ban was a management decision, and they let it go at that.

”A player has a job to do — to perform on the ice,” alternate captain Martin Lapointe said. ”On the business side, guys don’t think about that.”

Some did, though.

”[The TV ban] does matter,” said Patrick Sharp, another alternate captain. ”You want exposure in your hometown. I’ve heard that there are thousands of secret fans just waiting to come out. Getting on TV will be a way of bringing them out.