Call it a dynasty: Blackhawks win third Stanley Cup in 6 years
Go ahead and say the word now. Even if Jonathan Toews won't.
The Blackhawks, with their 2-0 victory over Tampa Bay in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night at the United Center, are officially in rarefied air.
Three Cups. Six years.
That's not supposed to happen in this day and age, but the Blackhawks have defied logic, opponents and the odds at every turn.
Unlike their other two recent titles from 2010 and 2013, the Hawks got to celebrate in front of a overflowing madhouse, jam-packed in a sea of red.
"It feels pretty (bleeping) good, I can tell you that," said Corey Crawford, who allowed just 2 goals in the last three games and stopped 80 of 82 shots in the process. "To win it here in Chicago, these fans have been great for us the last bunch of years. Nothing but support.
"You can't ask for more than to play hockey in the city of Chicago."
Said Toews, dripping with sweat and wearing a huge smile on the ice: "This is incredible. I mean, I'll stand here all night. There's nowhere else you want to be. This is crazy."
Conn Smythe Trophy winner Duncan Keith scored with 2:47 left in the second period when he banged in his own rebound, and Patrick Kane ended his goal-scoring drought at six games with 5:14 remaining. Crawford turned away all 25 Lightning shots, including a breakaway chance by Steven Stamkos in the second period.
After the teams shook hands, an overjoyed Toews raised the Cup for all 22,424 to see.
Then -- as many expected -- the Captain handed it off to 40-year-old Kimmo Timonen, who came to the Hawks in a trade for the sole purpose of ending his career as a champion.
"I was crying a little bit," Timonen admitted after Kane's goal made it 2-0.
Timomen passed the Cup to Antoine Vermette, another first-time Cup winner who couldn't remember how heavy it was afterward.
"I blacked out," Vermette said.
Brad Richards was next, and around and around it went after that.
Toews and Kane, just 27 and 26 years old, respectively, now own just one fewer Stanley Cup title than Wayne Gretzky.
"I've said it all along -- I've been fortunate to be part of great teams, have great opportunities," Toews said. "I just wanted to make the best of it and try to contribute the most I can.
"At the end of the day, it's not about one guy; you've got to be pretty lucky to have the run I've had."
Commissioner Gary Bettman uttered the word "dynasty" on the ice, but Toews is leaving that discussion to the media.
"I'm not gonna say that," he said. "People want to talk about that, that's pretty special that we're even being mentioned along those lines. I think at this point in our game, this is pretty rare and we all know that."
Said Kane: "It seems like it was the hardest one. … Three in six years is amazing. What more can you really ask for, and we were so close last year, too."
Keith was the ironman of the postseason. He averaged more than 30 minutes of ice time, scored 3 huge goals (game-winners in the Cup clincher, as well as in Games 1 and 6 vs. Nashville) and racked up 18 assists.
If the Conn Smythe was given for MVP of the Final, though, Crawford would have been the winner, hands down. The 30-year-old veteran allowed just 10 goals in the six games.
Unbelievable," said Brent Seabrook. "He was huge the last three. He was the backbone of this team. Amazing."
This will be a playoff run and a season to remember in so many ways.
Players and coaches had to overcome the death of assistant equipment manager Clint Reif in December and former teammate Steve Montador in February. Many Hawks were close to both men, and the news of their passing was extremely tough to take.
"I think as players we just have to be able to find a way to find strength to get through those things," Keith said on Stanley Cup media day. "There's nothing else you can do but remember it and mourn them, and you've got to move on."
They did that with aplomb at every turn.
On Monday night they celebrated with a stadium and a city that has waited 77 years to see the Hawks win the Cup on home ice. It will be a memory they treasure forever after a season they will never forget.
And it never gets old.
"It's the greatest feeling in the world," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Once you do it once, you can't wait to do it again.
"It was special tonight doing it in front of our own fans."
Three stars1. Duncan Keith, Hawks. Best player of the postseason scores game-winning goal and once again does it all.
2. Corey Crawford, Hawks. Another flat-out great performance by the veteran goalie. Makes 25 saves, including one on 43-goal scorer Steven Stamkos on a breakaway.
3. Patrick Kane, Hawks. Breaks goal-scoring drought at six games with big insurance goal.