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