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The core four led the Hawks to history.
And this team now stands alone both at the pinnacle of hockey and right near the top in the annals of Chicago sports.
Various forwards made multifaceted contributions as the playoffs went on and on for about two postseason months of hockey. They chipped in as the Hawks defeated Nashville in six, blitzed Minnesota in four and used a spectacular finishing skate to somehow find a way past the Ducks in seven. Then it was Tampa Bay and five games and 55 minutes worth of hockey in which neither team ever led by more than a single goal.
The wingers and centermen did great work but the only reason this team prevailed was the performance of defensemen Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya.
Both Kimmo Timonen and Trevor van Riemsdyk had decent-sized shifts in the second half of the second period of last night's 2-0 Stanley Cup clincher. And then that was it. They did not play a second in the third.
After about 20 minutes of post-game celebration - after everyone of note had taken a turn with the Cup and assistant marketing executive assistants were raising the trophy - and well after just about every player was asked "How does it feel?" for the 18th time, I just wanted them all to go get some rest. They deserve to sleep for about 48 hours after their epic exertions in these playoffs.
And thankfully the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP did not go to the person it almost always goes to in these situations - the goalie. Corey Crawford had a great run in the final three rounds of these playoffs. He is remarkably good at going post-to-post and his ability to do so forces opposing shooters to hurry and oftentimes miss the net even when they have glorious scoring chances.
But it was the defensemen who defined this team, who limited prime scoring opportunities, who blocked so many shots, who got the offense started.
And of course it was Keith who scored the eventual game-winning goal.
Who was surprised that Patrick Kane found a way to generate offense in the third period of a clinching game? The correct answer is no one. Kane struggled mightily to even contribute to goals let alone score them in the first five games but he found a way, like he has countless times before, to make the critical pass and the critical shot in the final period of the final game.
And so the third championship in six years was won. And so the Hawks passed the mid-80s Bears in the annals of Chicago sports. The Hawks had won two championships already, of course, but even two wasn't enough to pull ahead of the glory that was the '85-'86 Super Bowl champions.
But three in six years, well, that constitutes some sort of a dynasty and it moves the Toews/Kane/Keith Blackhawks into second all-time in Chicago behind Michael Jordan's Bulls.
What does the future hold? I wouldn't bet against Stan Bowman finding a way to keep this team competitive in the coming years in which the salary cap will loom large over a roster filled with players deserving of significant salary boosts after all this success.
But there is a great chance this is the last Cup for a while. The secret will be to savor it, all summer and, heck, all next season as well.
Duncan Keith Opens The Scoring
Kane sets him up, then he follows his own rebound. MVP indeed.
Kane Seals It
Watch Kane all alone waiting for it with his stick up. Set up by Brandon Saad and Brad Richards.
That's hockey, baby!
The Cup Arrives
After a high-speed police escort.
Toews Hands Cup To Timonen
Tells the retiring defenseman to skate it.
Memories of Handzus.
Follow The Cup Around The City
Best. Hashtag. Ever.
* Blackhawks Now On Verge Of Being Worth $1 Billion.
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Posted on Jun 24, 2017