Next stop: Stanley Cup Final

Published: Sunday, June 9, 2013 12:14 a.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, June 9, 2013 12:36 a.m. CDT
Caption
(H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com)
The Blackhawks' Patrick Kane (left) celebrates his overtime goal with Andrew Shaw on Saturday to win Game 5 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center.

CHICAGO – Good things come to those who wait.

And wait.

And wait.

The longer you wait, the better the thing.

Like a hat trick by Patrick Kane.

Like a double-overtime playoff win.

Like a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Repeat: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Double repeat: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

It took forever plus two overtimes, but the Blackhawks dethroned the Los Angeles Kings, 4-3, to win the Western Conference. The series lasted five games, which suggested a one-sided bout, but anyone who saw the games knew the razor-thin margin between exhilaration and emptiness.

Go ahead and sleep in late this morning, Hawks.

When you wake up, smile.

Take a deep breath.

And bring on the Boston Bruins.

After 48 regular-season games and 17 playoff games, a 91:40 double-overtime contest and countless renditions of “Chelsea Dagger,” the real fun is just beginning.

The Stanley Cup Final will begin with Game 1 on Wednesday at the United Center. It will continue with Game 2 on Saturday before heading east for Game 3 on June 17 and Game 4 on June 19.

Mark your calendars.

Replenish your antacids.

And enjoy this special moment in Hawks history.

It’s not every season that a city has a shot at a major sports championship.

The Hawks (and a few million of their closest fans) partied in the streets of downtown in 2010 after they beat the Philadelphia Flyers to win their first Stanley Cup championship in 49 years. The Bears reached the big stage but lost to the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI. The White Sox swept the Houston Astros in 2005 to snap an 88-year championship drought.

Other than that, none of the city’s major sports teams has won a title since the Jordan years. Maybe that seems like a short time ago to many of us, but there are students in area high schools who were born after the Bulls’ last championship in 1998.

Now, it’s almost time to celebrate.

Almost.

Nobody provided the “almost” better than Hawks captain Jonathan Toews.

After Toews set up Kane’s game-winning goal 11:40 into double overtime, more than 22,000 fans lost their hats (literally) and their minds (figuratively). Toews lined up with the rest of his teammates in the handshake line, where they wished the hard-nosed Kings a safe flight and a happy summer.

Then, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly strolled on to a red carpet that had been rolled out in front of the Hawks’ bench. He called over to Toews to accept the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, which is awarded annually to the champions of the Western Conference.

Toews wanted no part of the trophy. He didn’t touch it. Not even close.

Instead, Toews shook Bill Daly’s hand. He waved over to his teammates to join him. They all gathered behind the trophy, making sure to keep their hands at a safe distance, as they posed for a photo.

It’s an old hockey superstition to avoid touching the Campbell Bowl.

After all, only one trophy is meant to be lifted.

Fans understood.

“We want the Cup!” they roared as the Hawks waited for the picture to snap. “We want the Cup! We want the Cup!”

Ah, yes. The Cup.

That’s an extra good thing.

We’ll have to keep waiting for that.

But not for too much longer.

• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at tmusick@shawmedia.com and on Twitter @tcmusick.

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