As Patrick Kane called over his longtime running buddy Jonathan Toews to bring out the Stanley Cup in front of tens of thousands of screaming, red-clad, bleary-eyed fans, the Blackhawks’ now-familiar postgame victory song, “Old Thing Back,” blared over the speakers at Soldier Field.
They indeed got that old thing back. For a third time in six seasons. But it never seems to get old. Not for the players. And certainly not for the city.
“It’s amazing,” Marian Hossa said. “People here in this city are just proving they’re fanatics when it comes to hockey.”
After a parade that drew countless fans downtown on a weekday morning, lined dozens deep to catch a glimpse of the team buses, more than 60,000 people packed Soldier Field to celebrate yet another Stanley Cup. It was another raucous affair. Corey Crawford cursed. Of course. Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom sang. Or, at least, tried to. The Hawks handed the Stanley Cup around as red confetti whipped around them and “Chelsea Dagger” played. And there was already big talk about a fourth Cup on the horizon.
“Let’s keep this red machine rolling, baby,” Duncan Keith said. “Let’s do it again. Four sounds better than three.”
The funniest moment, naturally, came from Crawford, who despite his assurances to the contrary, reprised his “(Bleepin’) right, Chicago!” line from the 2013 rally, with team president John McDonough standing right behind him. But the most poignant moment came from Versteeg. His attempt at rapping at the 2010 rally is legendary for all the wrong reasons. But his symbolic handing of the team’s championship belt to CJ Reif, son of the team’s assistant equipment manager, Clint Reif, who died at age 34 on Dec. 21, was even more memorable.
As Keith said earlier in the rally, “This one’s for Reifer.”
While the parade has become routine for some of the Hawks — eight of them are three-time champions — it was overwhelming for the first-timers. You could see it on 40-year-old Kimmo Timonen’s smiling face, and in 23-year-old Trevor van Riemsdyk’s wide-eyed grin. And for one Hawks player in particular, the first Chicago-area native to win the Stanley Cup with the Hawks, it was even more special.
“My family was in the streets last time,” Lemont native Scott Darling told CSN Chicago. “And they were on the bus with me today. It’s just unbelievable.”
In 2010, they packed Michigan Avenue. In 2013, they filled up Grant Park. This time around, they flocked to Soldier Field and lined the city streets just to see the Hawks and their hardware. The rally was the capper to a three-day long Cup crawl for the Hawks that made stops at Wrigley Field and seemingly every bar in the city.
“If there’s something we’ve missed so far, I’d like to know,” Toews said.
Kane even joked at the rally: “I know you said I’ve been growing up, but watch out for me for the next week.”
But the celebration is just getting started. The Cup will travel with players and staff throughout North America and Europe, but it’ll be a fixture in Chicago, too. And for Hawks fans, every time they see it, it feels like the first time.
“What a team,” Patrick Sharp said. “What a city.”