I called my grandma, a Hawks fan for over 70 years, after they won late Monday night, and she was speechless. My grandmother, now in her eighties, got to see her favorite team win the greatest trophy in all of sports twice in the last four years. Rarely missing a home game the last few seasons, she has gotten to see not just a winning team assemble, but the birth of a dynasty.
It's not just the players that make the Chicago Blackhawks so exciting, but the fans dedication to them. Monday night I was able to watch the game at the Cubby Bear alongside a fan from Australia. He flew 18.5 hours from Melbourne, Australia to go to Game 5 and hopefully catch the parade, which he will before his flight leaves Thursday.
The team that set astounding records during the regular season would do the same in their final game of the post season. In Game 6, the Hawks set new records for the fastest tying and winning Stanley Cup-clinching goals.
I keep repeating to myself and to friends in disbelief that the Blackhawks tied and scored the goal ahead goal with 1:16 left in the game, just 17 seconds apart. It's simply unimaginable.
Maybe we could have seen this finish coming. Starting the season with a 24-game point streak was also unimaginable, as was Ray Emery being the 1st NHL goaltender to start a season 10-0-0. Michael Frolik deserves an honorable mention for being the 1st NHL player to score on 2 penalty shot goals in the playoffs (Vancouver, Detroit).
The Blackhawks are also the 1st team to win both the Presidents' Trophy and the Stanley Cup since the 2007-2008 Red Wings.
The core players of the team aren't just two-time winners of the Cup, all-stars, and Olympians, they're players who could likely go down in history as some of the greatest players of their time and will likely be immortalized by the organization the way Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita have been.
It's almost as rewarding to see the young players such as Saad and Shaw win the Cup as it is for the 1st time vets such as Handzus and Mayers. One of the reasons the team accomplished all that it did this year was due to the right mix of old and new spices.
Stan Bowman had the hockey world scratching it's head when he brought Michal Handzus to the Hawks after he had been riding the bench for the Sharks. Many faceoff wins later and a couple big playoff goals and Michal was hoisting the Cup over his head.
Saad mixed well with the 1st line and played hard wherever Q stuck him though out the season. Andrew Shaw could be hit by lightning and a semi truck and would stay on the ice to find a way to help his team win.
As Shaw seemed to take a beating all season long, several key players played through injuries late in the playoffs and came up big for the Hawks. Every team was targeting Toews relentlessly and the mostly un-whistled cheap shots almost took their toll on the Captain, but he refused to miss Game 6 in which he tallied 1 goal and 1 assist.
Michal Handzus won 5 of 13 draws for the Hawks in Game 6 with a busted wrist and a torn MCL. Bryan Bickell was a force to be reckoned with and made things open up for the 1st line with a Grade 2 sprained knee, and Patrick Sharp is rumored to have an upper-body injury as well.
I remember watching the Blackhawks the 1st day of training camp before this season, shocked by how crisp they looked despite the lockout. Whether they practiced in Chicago, or played in different leagues across the world, they all came ready to camp.
All season long they looked a couple steps ahead of their opponents. We knew they would be an incredibly tough team to face in the playoffs.
During an epic conference rivalry farewell series with the Red Wings, we underestimated them when their backs were against the wall. The way they came back and won that series, especially Game 7, was just another reminder that this team could accomplish anything.
Despite having the uncanny group of core players the Blackhawks do, they would not have had the season they did without Corey Crawford. Crawford, who for some reason had still not won over the majority of the fans during the regular season, stood on his head for 99.9% of the post season.
It was a very classy gesture for Conn Smythe winner Patrick Kane to say he felt Crawford was "snubbed."
What made winning the Cup this year sweeter than in 2010 was that after all the Hawks achieved in the regular season, they beat the toughest team they could possibly face. Skill and speed triumphed over size and physicality.
It took the Q and the team a couple games to figure out that if they pressed Chara, Boston's biggest and most skilled player, that he would disappear. Despite the NHL officials' best efforts, the better team won.
Thanks to all the subscribers and regulars who read all season long and welcome to the new ones. Getting a press pass for some of the Stanley Cup Final was a dream come true. Thanks for all your support. There will be plenty more posts on the trophy, the parade, and what lies ahead for the best team in the world. Stay tuned, Hawks fans.
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