Blackhawks keeping Stanley Cup busy
The Blackhawks have paraded the Stanley Cup through small towns and big cities.
It has been to Europe for Marian Hossa, Michal Rozsival, Michal Handzus, Johnny Oduya, Marcus Kruger, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Viktor Stalberg to share with family and friends.
A crowd of 10,000 came out to see the Cup in Handzus' hometown of Banska Brystrica in Slovakia.
Hossa ate his mom's pierogi out of it on his day in Trencin, Slovakia. Jamal Mayers and his kids ate cereal out of it when they had it in St. Louis, and Brandon Saad had Wheaties from it — breakfast of champions, get it? — on his day with the Cup last week in Pittsburgh.
It has been to Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field, Arlington Park and even Busch Stadium in St. Louis, when Brandon Bollig had it for his day.
The Cup has been on a cruise on Lake Michigan with coach Joel Quenneville; been in a jail cell with Andrew Shaw in Belleville, Ontario; and been shown off to Maple Leafs fans by former Hawk Dave Bolland in Minco, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, where they haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1967.
The Cup has seemingly been everywhere since the Hawks won it on June 24 in Boston, and it's not ready to be packed away anytime soon.
Patrick Kane had his day with the Cup on Saturday in Buffalo. Senior adviser Scotty Bowman had it Sunday in Amherst, N.Y. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will get it Friday and Saturday in British Columbia, and Corey Crawford's turn will come next week in suburban Montreal.
According to a Hawks spokesman, the Cup will be engraved at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto next month before returning to Chicago for the Oct. 1 banner-raising ceremony before the season opener against Washington.
"I want all my teammates to enjoy the Cup," two-time Cup winner Patrick Sharp said. "It's kind of a personal thing, their Cup day, but for me once that Cup left Thunder Bay the first week of August it was time to turn the page and let's go win it again."
Sharp said his day with the Cup was different the second time around.
"It was a little more laid-back this time," he said. "We didn't do as much of the public stuff. We tried to have more private time, and it worked out pretty good."
Quiet hardly describes some of the celebrations by the European players, particularly those who won the Stanley Cup for the first time.
Sharp got a good chuckle out of the pictures he saw of Kruger's day with the Cup in Stockholm, Sweden. Kruger is normally one of the quietest Hawks.
"I saw some pictures of Kruger's day, and it looked like a heck of a party," Sharp said. "It looked like he was with a Swedish supermodel and there was good-looking people everywhere. Kind of caught me off guard there. He looks very comfortable back home in Sweden. I'm sure they're having fun."
Having the Stanley Cup for a day means different things to different people. Assistant coach Jamie Kompon used his day with the Cup to say think you to the medical people who are helping his dad recover from two strokes suffered during the winter.
Kompon visited the Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. Catharines, Ontario, where his father is recovering.
"Everybody here had a hand in getting my dad back to where he is," Kompon told about 100 staff members, according to Niagarathisweek.com. "To see him like this, it means the world to me. I thank you guys from the bottom of my heart."
Several Hawks, including Kane, used their day with the Cup to thank military personnel. Kane visited a naval reserve station in Buffalo, N.Y., where he thanked the servicemen.
Kane said the choice of venue was an easy one because of the way the Hawks honor military personnel during the national anthem and during the third period each game in the United Center.
"For you guys to give up your personal lives and sacrifice for what you do for our country is unbelievable," Kane told the crowd. "I can carry around a Stanley Cup that's 35 pounds or an MVP trophy that's brought along with us here today, but you guys carry our country on your back. It's really amazing."
Quenneville believes the celebrations this time have surpassed those of 2010, when many of these Hawks first won the Cup.
"The excitement since we won this Cup has taken it to a different level," Quenneville said. "I thought when we won in 2010 there was euphoria and it was crazy, and I think in the last three years it's gotten to a new level. I think the passion from our fans and the excitement throughout Chicago and the area has been unbelievable."
The Hawks begin defense of their championship with training camp set to begin Sept. 12 in South Bend, Ind.
"It's crazy," Sharp said. "I can remember back in 2010 putting the skates back on again and it felt like we just played Game 6 in Philadelphia. I started skating last week and there wasn't any rust. The legs got a little tired, but being off for six weeks or seven weeks isn't nearly long enough to get out of shape.
"The key thing for us is to stay mentally fresh and motivated to go back and try to do it again."
If the Hawks can win back-to-back Stanley Cups, they would be the first team since Detroit in 1997 and 1998 to accomplish the feat.
That will serve as motivation, according to Sharp.
"It is for me, and I know we'll talk about that when we get back together," he said. "There's been a lot of talk about the 2011 hangover, but I don't really think it's fair to call it that because half the team was different from the previous year. There were a lot of chemistry issues just as much as there was the hangover.
"I think this year with a lot of the returning guys coming back we've got just as good a shot as anyone to get right back there. You saw what L.A. did last year in the playoffs. They were close to winning it again, too. It hasn't been done in a long time, but I like our team.
"It's pretty cool that we have two with the Hawks and there's a lot of years left. Hopefully we can get a few more."
•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.
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