Team celebrates first Cup in 49 years
For Rocky Wirtz, the Stanley Cup's return to Chicago had been nearly five decades in the making.
"The weight of the world is off my shoulders," the Blackhawks' chairman said on ESPN 1000 after the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win in Philadelphia eliminated the Flyers in six games. "And I'm so happy for the city of Chicago and our great fans."
Wirtz attributed the team's remarkable run at least in part to a family-like locker room dynamic.
"The important thing is we have such a great, young, talented team that likes each other and plays hard," he said.
"When you have that kind of chemistry, anything can happen."
Many of the Blackhawks had a hard time comprehending what transpired in Philadelphia.
"This is unbelievable what just happened today," goalie Antti Niemi said on ESPN 1000.
Members of the team said that Patrick Kane's game-winner in overtime of Game 6 wasn't all that visible from the bench, but his celebration clued them in on the biggest sports story in Chicago in years.
"It surprised us too," Ben Eager said of Kane's goal. "But Kaner knows when they go in the net, and he was celebrating so we all kind of followed him."
Eager, a former Flyer, had mixed emotions about defeating his old team.
"It's one thing to be playing in the Cup finals, but to be playing against the team you played with before it was special," Eager said. "I got a lot of good friends on that team still. And it's tough. They played great. I'm happy we came out on the right side. It's just a great feeling to win this one."
Niemi also was effusive in his praise of the Flyers.
"They were a hard-working team. ... They were pretty skilled and patient," he said. "The No. 1 thing was their traffic at the net."
For the Blackhawks, Wednesday's win marked the culmination of an odyssey that had been years in the making.
"We knew we had a good team coming into the year, but it took a lot of hard work to get here, but we're all happy to be here," Eager said.
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