NHL SNAPSHOTS: How the Stanley Cup almost didn't make it to the Hawks' party
CHICAGO - Imagine if the Stanley Cup hadn’t arrived when it did.
Imagine if hockey’s Holy Grail hadn’t shown up at all.
Just one day after the Chicago Blackhawks, to the relief of the league, were finally handed the prized trophy after a post-game delay, NHL officials were still fretting about the potential nightmare that had narrowly been averted and vowed to find ways to avoid having it happen again.
Because of the torrential rains and flooded streets in the Chicago area on Monday, there was a significant risk that the Cup wasn’t going to make it in time for any kind of presentation. A police escort was brought in to help get it to the United Center, where commissioner Gary Bettman was able to pass it to Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews after a short wait.
The dilemma could have been that, in a raucous building in which fans were chanting “We want the Cup,” it wasn’t even in the house.
“The commisioner was not pleased,” said a league executive on Tuesday. “It could have been a disaster.”
The optics would have been of the trainwreck variety had the Hawks won the Cup, then didn’t have the chance to lift it.
“You don’t grow up dreaming of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy or World Series trophy. Sure you want to win those things. But when it comes to the Stanley Cup, kids dream of hoisting it one day. And if it wasn’t there, the hit to the league’s reputation would have been huge,” said a source close to the sitation Tuesday afternoon.
“As I understand it, tradition has the Cup staying a certain distance from the arena until later in the game when it finally is brought there. But that has to change. There will be some talks about it. There already have been.
“This can’t happen again.”
The Hawks are just glad the trophy showed up when it did. The previous time they won it on home ice, back in 1938, it wasn’t in the building either, having reportedly been left back in Toronto.
THE CUP RUNNETH OVER
Hawks players didn’t waste any time celebrating with the Cup, bringing the prized trophy to a Chicago nightclub within hours of the victory.
On Tuesday, word spread quickly via twitter that owner Rocky Wirtz had escorted the trophy - or vice versa - to lunch at Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush, where it was proudly showcased in the window.
Wirtz was not shocked in the least that the shiny mug had been lugged to a favoured watering hole by the players during one of its first stops in its tour around the city.
“I would have put 100 to 1 it would not have gone anywhere else,” Wirtiz told the Associated Press. ”I know it wasn’t going to the Field Museum.”
The official Stanley Cup parade will take place Thursday in downtown Chicago followed by a rally at Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Bears.
“The City of Chicago is so proud of the Blackhawks, which is why we are going to throw them a celebration that only Chicago can throw – a celebration worthy of a hockey dynasty,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement late Tuesday afternoon.
SEVENTEEN AND COUNTING
Thanks to the Hawks final-clinching 2-0 win over the Lightning on Monday, the Bowman family - Hall of Fame coach Scotty and his son, Stan, the Chicago GM - will have their names on the Cup 17 times. Scotty will be on there for a 14th occasion while this will be the third for Stan, who was named after the coveted chalice.
Standing on the United Center ice surface amidst the chaotic celebrations going on Monday night, Bowman recounted a story to Postmedia reflecting just how much the name meant to Stan growing up.
“He’s named Stanley after the Stanley Cup of course,” Scotty said. “We’d won the Cup in 1973 (with the Habs) and he was born just after that. His middle name is Glenn after Glenn Hall.
“So one day I was filling out some kind of license over the phone from the Quebec government and they asked me the name of my children. He was a boy at the time and overheard me say “Stanley Glenn.”
“He got really sad. I asked him what’s wrong. He said “Poppa, you mean my name isn’t Stanley Cup anymore?” I told him: “Your name will always be Stanley Cup to me.”
“He’s living up to that name”
He is that.
The 2015 Stanley Cup Final averaged 5.551 million viewers and a 3.19 HH rating across NBC and NBCSN, making it the second-most watched Final on record (since 1994), according to The Nielsen Company. In the process, the viewership of Game 6 allowed NBC to win the ratings battle south of the border Monday night ... More examples of why the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win in sports because of the grind: Lightning goalie Ben Bishop played through a painful tear in his right groin, top scorer Tyler Johnson broke his right wrist early in the series, and Nikita Kucherov sustained an undisclosed injury in Game 5. Valiant efforts by all.
LAST MINUTE OF PLAY
Of all the on-ice celebrations going on Monday, the coolest moment was seeing the kids of 40-year-old Kimmo Timonen lift the Cup.
Timonen will now retire on top, having battled blot clots and having taken considerable risk to make his Cup dream come true.
“I leave this game as a Stanley Cup champion,” Timonen said. “And I can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Like we said, cool.