A puck to the face wasn’t going to stop Andrew Shaw, blood and all.
Some nasty hits to the head weren’t going to slow down Jonathan Toews.
A Grade 2 knee sprain? Lace up those skates, Bryan Bickell, a game-tying goal awaits.
A broken wrist, a torn MCL. How about a bad back? Veterans Michal Handzus and Marian Hossa were not about to miss the opportunity to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Yes, these Hawks (and some Bruins) played injured, played bloody, played their hearts out. And that’s a true measure of a champion and one that longtime fans as well as those who just jumped on the bandwagon toward Friday’s parade should and do appreciate. It’s that kind of courage, heart and plain hard work that you hope your children will be inspired by as they move through life, either in sports or other activities.
And one can’t help but be moved by the embrace of Corey Crawford by his father on the TD Garden ice, tears streaming down both their cheeks as they soaked in what transpired Monday night. As a broadcaster said describing the scene, it’s a moment every hockey parent dreams about. It’s a moment that any parent can relate to, seeing your child succeed at that level.
Sports championships always bring out the best in a team or a player or a city. But this group of Blackhawks stand just a little bit above other teams in our view. The way they stuck together, practicing informally during the lockout, starting the season with a history-making points streak, and, finally, finding new ways to win throughout the unforgettable Stanley Cup playoffs run.
It didn’t go unnoticed by Joel Quenneville, who coached the Blackhawks to two championships in four seasons.
“I didn’t think Bicks (Bryan Bickell) was even going to play in this series,” Quenneville said, as quoted by the Daily Herald’s Barry Rozner. “He was in bad shape coming in, but he gutted it out. I have so much respect for the guys on both teams who played hurt in the series. Real admiration for what they did.”
Another sign of a true champion is humility. To wit, Bickell, again as quoted by Rozner: “It was nothing special. You just do what you have to do to play. We play for each other and everyone wants to be out there. I’m not different from anyone else.”
He was a star in these playoffs and will reap some rewards for that in the off-season. And for Toews, Shaw, Crawford and Conn Smythe winner Patrick Kane — they’re all young enough that perhaps they’ll be able to enjoy a night like Monday again some day.
But for a veteran like Handzus, playing with pain (and scoring a short-handed goal in Game 4) is what you do to finally be able to call yourself a Stanley Cup champion.
“I always wanted to say that. Now, I get to say it for the rest of my life.”
And, as fans, we’ll be talking about these champions for years to come.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.