Cup makes its way to Philly
PHILADELPHIA -- It might be the most coveted and well known trophy in all of sports. However, it will arrive in Philadelphia and subsequently the Wachovia Center in complete secrecy.
The Stanley Cup will make its first appearance of the finals in Game 6 because for the first time, there is a chance at a team winning it. The Chicago Blackhawks are up 3-2 in their series against the Philadelphia Flyers and can close it out with a win on Wednesday night. So why all the secrecy?
"It's out of respect," said Mike Bolt, one of several charged with protecting the Cup when it's not in the Hall of Fame. "If it's a Game 7, we know someone is going to win it, but in a Game 6 situation, you want to respect the idea that it may not be won."
The Cup was at an NHL event on Monday in New York. That much is known. There will be no announcement or fanfare when it arrives in Philadelphia. It will stay in a room at an undisclosed hotel, only to be taken out of its trunk for a little polishing.
Then sometime during Game 6 it will arrive at the Wachovia Center. Only if the Hawks are in a very obvious position to win will it come out of its case and into a more public setting. If the Blackhawks win, it will be handed to the captain, Jonathan Toews.
"It's been flashing in my head since Game 1 of the playoffs," Toews said after the Hawks arrived back in Philadelphia. "Every time you win one game, it feels like you're going all the way to the Cup. I've always said when you lose a game it feels like your season is going to be over. It's just been such a crazy ride."
Toews has been thinking about the Cup longer than just the beginning of this postseason. Like most NHL players, especially Canadians, it's a lifelong dream.
"I mean, countless times growing up," the Winnipeg, Manitoba native said of watching others being handed the Cup on television. "Any kid growing up in Canada, anywhere as a hockey player, that's the dream. That's the one thing you keep telling yourself, in your heart you kind of know you're going to do it someday."
Bolt says it will arrive in Chicago and then the United Center in a much more open forum if there is a need for a Game 7. The Hawks have no intentions of allowing that.
"Just by that win the other night, we knew it was just one step closer," Toews said of the Hawks' Game 5 win. "We want to take that last and final step [Wednesday] night. That's all we need to focus on. Same way we always [have] leading up to this point."
Toews was asked when he first thought the Hawks had a chance at capturing the elusive Silver Cup.
"I think last year watching the Pittsburgh Penguins come from behind and win that one last year, I think that's when it really first set in that I felt our team and myself personally ... this is something that can really become a reality," he said.
"It's been a long year, but I think we all knew all along that we can make it this far. Hopefully we can find a way to do it [Wednesday]."
The Hawks have had to think about hoisting it for an extra day, but that doesn't mean they're any more antsy about it.
"The last day here, it hasn't been any different," Toews said. "You just try and get those thoughts out of your head that get you all excited and jacked up in the middle of the afternoon."
"You try and save your energy, and the time to be focused and ready to go is [Wednesday] night when that game comes around. That's when you want to be energetic and ready to play."
And somewhere the Cup will be lurking.
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
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