They came in their red, open-topped buses, conquering the city again.
The Blackhawks’ third Stanley Cup victory parade worked its way slowly to Soldier Field through city streets so packed with red-jerseyed fans that it seemed like harvest time in a gigantic tomato patch.
This reporter couldn’t help wondering how much money has been spent in recent years on jerseys that make folks (especially the young, bearded ones) look just like the athletes who wear the jerseys for business reasons.
Does a lot sound right?
On the dais at Soldier Field the impish Patrick Kane came to the microphone and said he was introducing a fellow who ‘‘has something he wants to show you.’’
Up came team captain and perhaps the most valuable player/leader in the NHL, Jonathan Toews, carrying that something over his head, the gleaming, silver Stanley Cup.
We believe in symbols, we humans. And the Cup is a symbol not only of success, but of shared emotion and struggle, even heartbreak and beauty, and then, finally, unity.
It is the only championship trophy that is supposed to be touched and sat in and drunk out of by common folk. Even though the keeper of the Cup wears white gloves when handling the thing, the Cup has been dinged on mountain tops and dropped in frenzied saloons and hoisted into ceilings that were unexpectedly low.
It the Cup gets damaged, no problem. It gets fixed.
It’s like the pelt of the elusive unicorn, brought home in turn by each mythical hunter so his villagers can feel at one with it.
As almost everybody in the Blackhawks organ-I-zation (thank you for the proper hockey pronunciation, Mr. Toews) was introduced by announcer Pat Foley, it was hard not to think about all the fans who wanted to be inside Soldier Field but couldn’t get a ticket. Though the tickets were free, all 60,000-plus were snatched up within a few minutes when they went online.
Blame Mother Nature and crazy rain for the elitist nature of the ceremony.
‘‘We want to apologize,’’ said Foley. ‘‘Grant Park is a puddle.’’
And that was a pity, because other championship rallies have been held in the park — including a presidential rally of epic proportions — and such gatherings give hundreds of thousands of people the chance to say, ‘‘I was there!’’
Everyone on stage praised the fans, with president and CEO John McDonough announcing: ‘‘This is YOUR Stanley Cup!’’
Of course, not really. The Blackhawks are a privately-owned business, and none of us share in the profits.
But the public connection and the bond is one of trust and faith. Faith that having Chicago in front of the team’s name means we will get an elite, well-run, never-say-die, winning product.
We didn’t always. As recently as 2006, the organ-I-zation was an embarrassment. But we won’t dwell on that or the turbulent changes that came about.
This is about the moment, the euphoria that winning — even in a winter sport in 80-degree weather — can bring to a diverse populace. Forget junk-bond ratings and too much crime and tax hikes on the horizon.
Indeed, as the blue city sanitation trucks brought up the rear of the parade, it barely struck me that those trucks have value and are not just places for workers to doze. No cynicism today!
What we love about the Blackhawks is that we know these players now. We know Michael Roszival broke his ankle, had surgery, and we loved it when he came on stage and held his metal crutches together above his head so that they formed a heart. Like a wounded Taylor Swift.
And we love the dynamics of the Kane-Toews duo. These two men came to the Hawks as kids, and one of them — Kane — was wild and crazy and on the brink of self-destruction, and the other — Toews — was focused and sincere and mature and wise beyond his years.
Kane almost partied his way out of Chicago, while Toews, at age 20, was named the youngest team captain in Blackhawks history.
We know Kane and Toews, now 26 and 27, respectively, because we all have a bit of them within us. We know who they are, how different they are, and how vital each is to the other. One is reminded of Lennon and McCartney, two vastly different personalities, unified by objective, greater for the other’s input, making magic that transcended either alone.
‘‘It’s been a joy to watch you grow,’’ said Foley to Kane. ‘‘And grow up.’’
Said leader Toews: ‘‘The only way it gets better is if we win four.’’
Then Captain Serious added joyfully, ‘‘Let’s go!’’
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