The bronze statues were fitted with hockey helmets Wednesday, hours before the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins were set to begin Game One in the fight for the 2013 Stanley Cup.
The famed lions have previously sported Hawks' helmets, Sox hats and Bears helmets.
Teacher Karen Cuculic said the lions' Blackhawks gear has given Chicagoans a "common thing" to connect over.
"I think our city can be so fragmented sometimes and so busy ... and this everyone talks about," Cuculic said.
Cuculic, who was at the Art Institute with a group of students for a summer camp trip, was one of dozens snapping photos of the lions.
She said her students were excited to see the lions in their helmets and wanted their photos taken with them. So did Peanut Butter, a vizsla dog who stopped by the statues with his owners, Blackhawks fans Jake and Megan DeWalt. Jake DeWalt said he had read about the hockey helmets earlier in the day and wanted to see them.
"It gets people excited and it gets everyone involved," Jake DeWalt said. "Sports should be a distraction from the rigors of life...."
Southern Illinois residents Jackson Laster, 12, and his mother, Andi Laster, were also among those taking photos of the lions. Andi said they were hoping to see the helmets on the lions during their visit because Jackson — who celebrated his February birthday by going to a hockey game — is a Blackhawks fan.
"I knew this would motivate his artistic following," Andi Laster said. "This has been a great tie-in for our visit."