By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Some eight years and a half ago, just prior to the 2007 hockey season, the Blackhawks unveiled a new team slogan.
An organization deprived of success, striving for better, put its two budding teenage stars at the forefront — Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. This was the foundation for hockey’s modern dynasty, one that celebrated a third Stanley Cup championship in the past six years with a parade and rally on Thursday morning through downtown and then to Soldier Field.
That red now represents the pinnacle of hockey success — and the toast of the town in Chicago. Tens of thousands of red-clad fans filled the streets of Chicago. The city estimates that two million in total took part in the celebration. Perhaps it was fitting that the majority — as seen by the naked eye — were teenagers, just as Toews and Kane were those eight years ago.
Much of the Blackhawks’ young fan base put on $210 “sweaters,” stood in the extreme humidity among thousands of sweaty humans and became dehydrated — all to get a glimpse of those hockey heroes passing by on trolleys.
The street party filled Soldier Field, with that herd of fans packed onto the field like the double-coverage Jay Cutler never seems to see on an interception. This was a day for celebrating the Blackhawks, their fans and another championship.
“This is your Stanley Cup,” Blackhawks president John McDonough told the crowd.
Not bad, John. Thursday was pretty cool. Monday night at the United Center was even better.
The Blackhawks clinched the Stanley Cup in Game 6, doing it on home ice, a building that was once filled with just a few thousand when Toews and Kane first began their careers.
Truth be told, Chicago has always been a great hockey town, it just never had much to celebrate. The scene at Soldier Field showed how far the organization has come.
Goaltender Corey Crawford stepped to the microphone and unleashed his traditional F-bomb, a Blackhawks rally routine. Newly retired defenseman Kimmo Timonen continued to show his jubilant emotion with his new friend, Stanley. Then, Kane came to the podium — greeted by an overwhelming cheer — and offered a warning.
“I know you said I’ve been growing up, but watch out for me for the next week,” Kane said.
To cap off the raucous, sweaty, ridiculous day, Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom closed it out with a little touch of weird, singing Macklemore’s “And We Danced” to the crowd.
And we danced and we cried and we laughed and had a really, really, really good time.
Chicago’s kings can get away with just about anything this summer. Confetti blasted over the stage, and the crowd erupted. And that concluded another celebration of the Blackhawks.
But there’s plenty more to come. The Cup will offer constant refills this summer. The Blackhawks keep winning, their popularity is growing even stronger and the success doesn’t seem to have an end in sight, at least as long as Toews and Kane are in town.
“Maybe the only way it gets better is if we win four,” said Toews, greeted by a loud ovation.
The Blackhawks have risen a long way.
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.