For Red Wings Fans, the Avenue Tavern is a Chicago Oasis

By Justin Breen on May 14, 2013 8:44am 

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 The Avenue Tavern in Lakeview is a Red Wings-friendly establishment. The bar is owned by Mark Camilleri, a Detroit native and Michigan State graduate.
The Avenue Tavern
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LAKEVIEW — While their team is facing the arch rival Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup playoffs, there likely will be few places for Detroit Red Wings fans to take refuge in Chicago.

Count the Avenue Tavern in Lakeview as one of them.

The Lakeview establishment, 2916 N. Broadway, is owned by Detroit native and Michigan State graduate Mark Camilleri, a huge Red Wings fan who proudly flies team flags outside the bar.

"For all the Red Wings fans, you have a friend in Chicago here," said Camilleri, a Lakeview resident. "But I want to be clear that Avenue Tavern does not discriminate by sports affiliation."

The Hawks and Wings begin their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals series at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the United Center.

Camilleri, who's also a full-time podiatrist in Berwyn, has owned Avenue Tavern for 10 years. The sports bar "without the meathead attitude," as Camilleri calls it, features a Red Wings Stanley Cup championship banner and a framed picture of Detroit's famed hockey logo.

Camilleri expects to have a 50-50 Wings-Hawks crowd during games.

"There's just a lot of camaraderie here with Detroiters," Camilleri said. "A lot of us kind of hope that Detroit will someday rise to the greatness of Chicago. There's a little bit of city envy, if you will."

The Blackhawks last faced the Red Wings in the postseason in the 2009 Western Conference finals, won in five games by Detroit.

The teams last met in the second round of the playoffs in 1992, when the Hawks swept the Wings on their way to the Stanley Cup finals. In 15 overall postseason series, the Hawks own an 8-7 edge.

It's likely the two Original Six clubs won't face each other again in the playoffs for some time as the Red Wings are moving to the Eastern Conference next season. The only time they could square off again would be in the Stanley Cup finals.

While Camilleri refused to make a prediction for the series, his manager, diehard Hawks fan J.J. Bruna, said Chicago should roll to the next round.

"We will punish them in this series," Bruna, of Lakeview, said. "We're going to sweep them. I've been talking s--- already."

And if the top-seeded Blackhawks are upset by the seventh-seeded Wings?

"My life will be miserable," Bruna said. "With this guy [Camilleri] working with me, he'll remind me of it every day."

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