As the players, officials and youth hockey players stand at attention during the national anthem, it’s hard to miss team photographer Chase Agnello-Dean at work. With a camera in one hand and one or more draped over his shoulders, this gentle giant moves along the ice capturing the moments for posterity. And he’s also doing his best not to slip.
“I’ve fallen twice,” Agnello-Dean said. “It was not graceful.”
The seemingly simple task of photographing the day’s events at the United Center is actually complex, requiring two photographers — Bill Smith is the other — and a team of interns.
At the end of a game day, roughly 3,000 photos are taken.
Agnello-Dean’s favorite moments? The 2010 Stanley Cup championship bannerraising ceremony and when Duncan Keith scored the go-ahead goal in Game 6 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final — the only one of the three titles from the last decade that the Hawks clinched on home ice.
“After Duncan scored, you can see it (was going to happen),” he said. “The building was alive.”
Agnello-Dean has near carte blanche to shoot what he needs to preserve what takes place at the United Center. He has developed an intuitive understanding of how to give the players privacy when they need it.
“The players and I over the years have struck an unofficial agreement, I suppose,” he said. “There’s some times when I just don’t go in the room, and outside of that, I’m kind of free to roam.
“I stay out of the coaches room — that’s an old-school thing. That’s their area. Leave it be.”
Agnello-Dean fortuitously joined the Hawks before the 2009-10 season and shot the three subsequent Stanley Cup title runs.
He realizes his pictures will be around long after he and everyone else currently in the organization are gone.
“It’s not just now; it’s 20, 30, 40, 100 years down the road when Blackhawks hockey is still playing,” he said. “We can look back on this era and reminisce, enjoy, celebrate. And we’ve shot the hell out of it.”