I know that this is a Panther’s blog, but for those of you who don’t know, I’m originally from Chicago and you’re just going to have to excuse me for doing this, but I have to. I know, another post about the Hawks.
As we all know, this is the kind of thing that doesn’t happen too often, and for Chicago fans, it happens even less.
49 years of suffering and waiting. The Blackhawks last won the cup in 1961. They had four other chances, 1965, 1971, 1973 and 1992. Like my blogging buddy Jeff Bartl at Blackhawk Up, I was there as well in 1992 and watched Mario carry the Cup around the Chicago Stadium. Unlike some Flyer fans, I didn’t boo. I just stood stunned. That was a great playoff run, that came to an end very quickly and unexpectedly. Yes, I cried too. As hockey fans we’re passionnate people. I know you know that. I also thought that they would be able to get back again soon. They didn’t.
This is the most difficult trophy in sports to win, and the most gratifying when you do.
The series against the Flyers was loaded with excitement, drama, controversey and lots of goals. Game six was nothing short of exciting as well. And overtime to boot. The Hawks started out determined to put this game and series away Wednesday night. They picked up where they left off on Sunday, and controlled the play for the first period heavily outshooting the Flyers. At the end of one period though the score was tied at one, and the Flyers had to be thinking that they were lucky to be in that position.
Period two saw Philly take a 2-1 lead when Daniel Briere scored on a pass from ex Red Wing, Ville Leino giving the Flyers life. But Chicago answered when Ex Flyer Patrick Sharp put a soft wrister past goaltender Michael Leighton and the Hawks smelled blood. Their speed and puck control offence was dominating the Flyers and it was looking that they were just waiting to pounce on a mistake.
Later in the second Andrew Ladd of Chicago tipped in a slapshot from Hawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarrson and gave the Hawks a 3-2 lead and that’s where it stood heading to the final period. The Flyers looked tired, and the Hawks looked confident as the teams began the third. The building tried it’s best to pump the Flyer team, but they couldn’t seem to crack the Hawks netminder Antii Niemi. Both goaltenders played much better in this final game, after being heavily abused by the media.
As the Hawks seemed to play a bit of prevent D, the Flyers came on strong late in the final frame and kept pushing the play. Finally Scott Hartnell tied the game at three with just under four minutes to go. To be so close to closing out the series and to now have to come back one more time left a huge pit in my stomach.
Then we get to overtime and quickly the Hawks made two costly turnovers and Antii Niemi had to be at this best and he was. Thankfully. I’m not going to say it was wide open, but there were chances. A game seven certainly could have happened. A scenario that I wasn’t looking forward to.
Then it happened. Patrick Kane the young sniper forward for the Hawks got past Flyer defenceman Kimmo Timmonen and snuck a quick wrist shot past Michael Leighton. That was it. Kane was the only player who knew for sure it went in as the puck made it’s way under Leighton’s pad, and Kane briskly skated around the ice and made a bee line straight for Hawks goalie Antii Niemi. A short review verified it. Goal. Done. The waiting was finally over.
Here’s the call by CBC’s Jim Hughson:
The Chicago Blackhawks were champions!
Jonathan Toews was selected as the Conn Smythe winner.
I still can’t put into words how this feels. I’ve been gettng text messages and phone calls since Wednesday night, continuing all throughout Thursday. A very emotional time right now. And a great feeling. It still hasn’t sunk in. Maybe it was the waiting. Maybe it was the uncertainty of it all. No matter what, it did happen.
Thanks for reading.
Your comments are always welcomed and appreciated.
You follow me on Twitter @TheRatTrick