Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Stanley Cup lands in Chicago, Hawks party on/Blackhawks Win First Stanley Cup in 49 Years

Stanley Cup lands in Chicago, Hawks party on
By Joel Hood, Rob Hart, Stacy St. Clair, Randi Belisomo, Duaa Eldeib, and Jeremy Gorner
Copyright © 2010, Chicago Tribune
June 10, 2010 12:01 PM

Firetrucks salute the arriving Blackhawks at O'Hare this morning. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

And the party continues.

The Blackhawks embarked on a pre-dawn pub crawl after returning from Philadelphia with a beer-soaked Stanley Cup.

From a private terminal at O'Hare International Airport, the team moved on first to Harry Caray's restaurant in Rosemont where from the outside, players could be spotted in the restaurant drinking beer, although champagne glasses were arranged on one table.

Afterward some teammates went to The Pony Inn, 1638 W. Belmont Ave. in the city.

They were still enjoying themselves at 7 a.m., with large crowds outside and bouncers protecting their privacy. Hundreds of screaming fans swarmed the players' waiting limos as they waited for a glimpse of the city's newest champions.

At the backdoor of the bar, several kids asked for a peek at the Stanley Cup. When Captain Jonathan Toews heard about it, he went out back to let them see it.
Meanwhile, those inside the bar said his teammates downed Jaegerbombs, the ubiquitous celebratory drink consisting of a Jaegermeister shot dropped into a glass of Red Bull. The players also downed caffeine-heavy sodas to help keep themselves awake.

By 9 a.m. the Pony party had broken up. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who was the last to leave the bar, could not find a taxi on Belmont so he climbed into a Chicago Police car and was spirited away.

Toews and a few friends headed to the Ann Sather restaurant, 909 W. Belmont Ave. After ordering the Swedish diner's famous cinnamon rolls and a bagel sandwich, he took pictures with young fans and accepted their congratulations.

"He's about to have breakfast," general manager Adolfo Martinez said.

Toews left shortly before 10 a.m.

On the West Side, Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland met a swarm of reporters as he pulled up to the Palace Grill, a popular team hangout, in a dark limousine.

Haviland said Philadelphia fans -- some of whom booed the Hawks during the Stanley Cup presentation -- were more gracious as the team left the City of Not-So-Brotherly Love.

"They were very classy," he said. "It's obviously a surreal thing to win it. But certainly they were very classy."

The road-weary Blackhawks arrived at a private terminal at O'Hare International Airport shortly before 4 a.m, little more than six hours after their thrilling 4-3 overtime victory over the Flyers in Philadelphia.

Toews emerged from the plane hoisting the cup above his head. He and the rest of the Hawks, some bleary eyed and reeking of champagne, paraded the cup around the terminal lobby before pausing to meet with reporters.

That was our moment as a team, and we took full advantage of it," Toews said at the airport. "Everybody is excited about it."

It was a brief and somewhat muted return to Chicago as the public was barred from the private terminal. The only fanfare was fire trucks shooting giant arcs of water as the plane approached the terminal.

"It didn't matter where we won it," Toews said. "We're as excited as we could be."

Toews held the cup aloft, then passed it to teammate Brian Campbell, who gave it to a jubilant Patrick Kane, whose overtime goal was the game winner.

Coach Joel Quenneville said team members will be forever linked by this championship.
"We will always walk together the rest of our lives," Quenneville said. "They should enjoy it. They should cherish it."

Players were mum about where the cup will go from here. Toews, flashing a wide grin, said he and his teammates will take good care of it.

"We'll probably parade it around town," Toews said. "It'll be awesome."

A reporter asked Toews if the championship had sunk in on the plane ride home.

"Slowly, slowly," he said. "I think it might be a while."

Toews said the plane ride was rowdy, befitting one of the youngest teams in the NHL and a Stanley Cup celebration nearly 50 years in the making.

"No one was sitting down, nobody was relaxing," Toews said. "It was pretty loud in there."
What kind of shape did the team leave the plane in?

"It's probably not as nice as it was before," he said.

Quenneville echoed how proud he was of the Hawks, particularly how they ended the series.

"I thought we played our two best games when it counted most," Quenneville said. "It was a great moment. I'm happy for the fans in Chicago. It was a great night."

Blackhawks Win First Stanley Cup in 49 Years
Copyright by The New York Times
Published: June 9, 2010

PHILADELPHIA — A 49-year-old Stanley Cup drought ended in a flood of anxiety.

Patrick Kane, the 21-year-old winger, scored 4 minutes 6 seconds into overtime Wednesday, lifting the Chicago Blackhawks over the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-3, and giving Chicago its first Cup since 1961.

The Blackhawks had come up empty in five finals since their last Cup victory until Kane scored his third goal of the series. It came suddenly on a shot from the bottom of the right circle that whizzed under the stick and pads of Flyers goalie Michael Leighton.

Many in the crowd at the Wachovia Center did not know that a goal had been scored until they saw Kane and his teammates throw their sticks in the air in celebration.

No red light went on, and both teams had to wait several moments until the officials confirmed the goal after reviewing the replay and searching for the puck in the padding at the back of the net. But Kane did not need a review.

“I shot, I saw it go right through the legs, sticking right under the pad in the net,” he said. “I don’t think anyone saw it in the net. I booked it to the other end. I knew it was in. I tried to sell the celebration a bit.”

He added: “I think some guys were still kind of a little iffy to see if the puck was in the net. I saw the coaches there pointing at the puck and jumping around. It’s pretty surreal right now for sure.”

Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville described the view on the bench.

“When it went in, I don’t think too many people knew it,” he said. “But it made a funny strange sound. Like the back of the leather and the back of the net. And I asked Kaner where did it go in? He said it went in long pad, five hole, in that area,” he continued.

“When they lifted up the net, when they went searching for the puck, it was underneath in there deep. They lifted it up, it fell through. We knew that was the winner.”

The last time the Blackhawks were champions, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita were young Chicago stars playing with curved sticks, Glenn Hall stood bare-faced in the goal, and John F. Kennedy was president.

Jonathan Toews, the Chicago captain, was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs. He finished second in overall playoff scoring, but had played unevenly in the finals, with three assists and a minus-5 mark.

Nevertheless, he was a force on face-offs throughout the series, winning 97 and losing only 52, and for his preternatural leadership abilities.

“This is the best feeling you can ever get playing hockey, and I just can’t believe it’s happening," Toews said.

He and his teammates Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, both defensemen, won the Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medals with Team Canada in February. The trio joined Ken Morrow (Team USA and the Islanders in 1980), Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan (both Canada and the Red Wings in 2002) in this exclusive club.

The Cup drought was the second longest in league history, after the Rangers’ 54-year sojourn in the wilderness, which ended in 1994.

The Blackhawks seemed to be hanging on for a narrow victory in the third period against a furious Flyers attack, but they did not hold on in regulation. Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell scored with 3:59 left for his second goal of the night, sending the game to overtime.

But Kane’s goal, which came after the Flyers had at least four clear chances at the Chicago net in the extra session, made the road team winners for the first time in the series.

It was a victory typical of this series: not well played, but exciting and unpredictable. Like the Olympic gold medal game at Vancouver in February, it ended memorably, in overtime.

John Madden threw his gloves into a corner after Kane scored, picked them up after he thought the goal might not count, then threw them again.

“It was like we won two Cups tonight,” said Madden, a former Devils wing. “It was pretty weird.”

Flyers fans stood and saluted their resilient team, then booed loudly as the Blackhawks paraded the Cup around the ice.

The Flyers had earned a berth in the playoffs on the last day of the regular season by winning a shootout against the Rangers and were seemingly eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals, trailing the Boston Bruins by three games to none, and by 3-0 in Game 7 in Boston. But the Flyers rallied to become the third N.H.L. team to win a best-of-seven-game series after trailing by 0-3.

The Blackhawks, with a 17-7 shooting advantage, were the better team in the opening period, but the score was tied at the first intermission after Dustin Byfuglien and Hartnell traded power-play goals.

The Blackhawks held the edge in play in the second period as well, outshooting the Flyers by 10-6. But they fell behind when Danny Briere, the leading scorer of the finals, beat Chicago goalie Antti Niemi on a play that started when Keith tripped over Hartnell’s skate.

Patrick Sharp tied the score by finishing a fine passing play with a shot from 21 feet that beat Leighton to the short side at 9:58 — a soft goal, but not quite as soft as Kane’s overtime winner. Andrew Ladd tipped in Niklas Hjalmarsson’s shot at 17:43, and the Blackhawks were ahead by 3-2 entering the third period.

Niemi, who had a shaky series, stopped 21 of 24 Flyers shots and ended with an .882 series save percentage. He became the first Finnish goalie to backstop his team to a Stanley Cup. Leighton ended with 37 saves on 41 shots. His save percentage in the series was .876.

The Flyers’ line of Hartnell, Danny Briere and Ville Leino was by far the best for either team in the series. Briere led the series in scoring with 3 goals and 10 assists for 13 points. Leino — a rookie even though he is 26 and who had already been named the most valuable player in the Finnish SM-liiga, Europe’s second-best professional league — had 7 goals and 14 assists for 21 points in the playoffs. That tied him for the postseason rookie scoring record, set by Dino Ciccarelli of the Minnesota North Stars in 1981.

It was the sixth straight final series that the Flyers have lost. That ties them with the Maple Leafs of 1933-40 and the Red Wings of 1956-95 for most consecutive finals lost.

At one point they ranked 29th in the 30-team league, but Peter Laviolette, who won the Stanley Cup in 2006 with a lightly regarded Carolina team, took over as coach in December.

“It hurts a lot,” said the Flyers captain Mike Richards, who had a quiet finals. “At the end, they got the last bounce.”

Chicago’s Stan Bowman, 36, became the youngest general manager to win the Cup. The son of the legendary coach and manager Scotty Bowman, Stan Bowman was in his first year at the helm of the Blackhawks.

It was also the first Stanley Cup for Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville, one of only three men to participate in at least 800 N.H.L. games as both a player and a head coach. His name is already engraved on the Cup, from when he was an assistant with Colorado in 1996. Now it will be etched onto the silverware with the 2010 Blackhawks.

The same is true of Marian Hossa, the first player to reach the Stanley Cup finals in three straight years with three different teams. After losing with the Penguins and the Red Wings the last two years, he finally won Wednesday.

Hossa was the first person Toews passed the Cup to.

“What a relief,” Hossa said. “I’m so happy to finally do this.”

On the ice after the game, the Blackhawks and their family, friends and fans celebrated as 2010 was added to the club’s previous Cup victories, in 1961, ’38 and ’34.

Kane, whose summer was marked by controversy when he and a cousin pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after they got into a late-night dispute over a fare with a Buffalo cab driver, ended the season in glory, with the 16th overtime goal to win the Stanley Cup.

On the ice he was being horsecollared by his jubilant friends and showed the television audience his “famous cousin.”

“Got to shout out to my people back in Buffalo, my hometown,” Kane said. “I have four buddies who drove all the way to come out here; my five family members; three sisters, three beautiful sisters. My mom and dad. What a feeling, I can’t believe it. We just won the Stanley Cup.”

Dave Caldwell contributed reporting from Philadelphia.

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