The Chicago Blackhawks drink from Lord Stanley’s Cup, ending professional hockey’s longest drought. Patrick Kane sealed the slim 4-3 overtime victory with a slam that just kissed net after passing under Flyers goalie Michael Leighton. After brief hesitation while officials and television comentators comprehended the winning goal, fans at Park Forest’s Holiday Star Theater, and throughout the rest of the Chicagoland area, erupted in cheers.
Chicago drinks the cup again at last.
The enigmatic half-smile of Chief Blackhawk has widened to a full-out expression of joy. OK, so there might be a few teeth missing in that smile in honor of Duncan Keith, but oh what a satisfying grin it is.
Let that signature horn of victory blare deep into the night, as Chicago celebrates its first major championship in a half-decade, brought to us by the best team in their sport — a team that outlasted, outsmarted and outplayed Nashville, Vancouver, San Jose and finally, Philadelphia, home of the nastiest fans and the most weirdly-bearded players in all of hockey.
It seemed as if the playoff marathon lasted nearly as long as the regular season. (Do the Bears kick-off tomorrow?) When it was finally over, there was one team left standing, one team hoisting the fabled Stanley Cup. After decades of watching the Oilers and the Islanders and the Red Wings and the Penguins and so many other franchises have their day, it’s finally Chicago’s turn.
Let “Chelsea Dagger” and “Here Come the Hawks” play until your iPod explodes and your ears bleed.
Rattle your windows as if you were a fan in the front row celebrating a goal by Patrick Kane or a bell-ringing hit by Dusty Byfuglien.
Drink out of your own cup to celebrate the first Stanley Cup to be claimed by the Chicago Blackhawks since John F. Kennedy was a freshly minted president, Roger Maris was making a run at Babe Ruth’s single season home run record and a band called the Beatles was performing for the first time at the Cavern Club.
At this moment, it doesn’t matter if you’re an Original Six diehard who saw Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita skate in the glory days, or a newbie whose feet still feel the sting from jumping on the bandwagon. You have the right to cheer as much as you want for as long as you want.
Patrick Kane streaked down ice, threw his stick and his helmet into the air and soon was mobbed by a horde of exultant Blackhawks.
At the other end of the ice, no one was quite sure where the puck had gone. The Flyers stood motionless and still by the net. And in short order the verdict came: A half-century of agony had ended.
Kane, the superlative 21-year-old winger, scored 4:10 into overtime of Game 6 at the Wachovia Center on Wednesday, and that made the Blackhawks 4-3 winners and Stanley Cup champions for the first time since 1961.
“I knew it went in right away,” Kane said. “What a feeling. I can’t believe it. We just won the Stanley Cup. I can’t believe this just happened. … It’s something you dream about, scoring the final goal in the Stanley Cup finals.”
Kane scooped up the puck along the wall and flung it toward the net, and it zipped past Michael Leighton and in on the far side of the goal — such a blisteringly quick score that officials reviewed it just to make sure. Once they did, the celebration was on in earnest.
“I was just hoping to God it was just an actual goal,” said captain Jonathan Toews, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP. “They came back hard in the third and we just stuck with it.”
As captain, Toews received the honor of being the first to hoist the Stanley Cup. Next was Marian Hossa, who finally won a title after near-misses with Pittsburgh and Detroit.
“There’s so many great things about winning a Stanley Cup. This is it,” Toews said. “This is the best feeling you can ever get. I just can’t believe it’s happened.”
The Tribune reports that the Blackhawks’ victory parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Wacker and Washington, and proceed east to Wacker and Michigan, where a rally will be held at 11:30 a.m.
The Chicago Cubs now stand alone with the longest drought in sports history.
Yes, just had to slip that in.