As the clock struck 4 early Tuesday morning in the UK, much of Chicago’s television media began their 10pm news broadcasts. Going to air, there were two items of note in the third largest city in the United States—the first being the weather, as heavy rain and flooding on a humid June day made commutes to and from work and elsewhere utter havoc.
The second was an event of excitement, for just moments earlier at the United Centre, the building its residents affectionately call the Madhouse on Madison, Game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals had just concluded.
The home team, the Chicago Blackhawks, were victorious, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0, and winning four out of seven games to gain the Cup, compared to the Lightning’s two.
The victory by head coach Joel Quenneville, the goalie Corey Crawford, the Conn Smythe trophy winner (the League’s Most Valuable Player award) Duncan Keith and two of Chicago’s brightest sporting stars, captain Jonathan Toews and winger Patrick Kane, was the third in six seasons. It was also special for Kimmo Timonen, the defenceman who hadn’t won a Stanley Cup in his career and who would be retiring at the end of the current NHL season.
Amid previous booing, which turned to roars of applause for the home team, the League’s controversial commissioner Gary Bettman marked the significance of the win in two sentences.
“Well, Chicago, that’s 3 Cups in 6 seasons,” Bettman said. “I’d say you have a dynasty, and you great fans deserve it.”
Yet, the victory celebrated by the players, coaches and fans in the Centre and in the streets was more than a victory. It was one that allowed the Blackhawks to cement themselves permanently into the culture of sport, and more broadly, this city, for this was the first victory on home ground since 1938, when they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs. They would win the Cups in 1961, 2010 and 2013, but on the road, in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Boston, respectfully.
The comeback kids
For many years, the Blackhawks were written off, not amounting to any success as the Stanley Cup drought grew longer and longer. But in the 2009-10 season, after managerial and coach changes, success was eminent, the city took notice of the hockey team it housed, and the fans cheered. They were on top, back in the major talking points of sports fans, columnists and observers city wide.
Six seasons later, the Blackhawks are still there, with many players occupying top slots within NHL player statistics, and game nights are nights of celebration, excitement and the drama of what the Canadian singer Tom Connors sung about, a good ole hockey game.
In the days and weeks ahead, fans will celebrate the win of the Cup named after Lord Stanley of Derby, the British Conservative politician and sixth Governor General of Canada, and the Blackhawks will celebrate not just another successful season, but their renewed place in the culture of America’s third largest city—Sweet Home Chicago.
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