Return to Philly is nostalgic for Hawks' core
CHICAGO -- Jonathan Toews might've fired up the replays of Game 5 and Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final during the flight to Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon.
Once the Chicago Blackhawks arrive at Wells Fargo Center for Thursday's showdown against the Philadelphia Flyers, Hawks forward Patrick Kane will probably find the exact spot on the ice where he fired home a low overtime shot that ended a 49-year Cup drought in the Windy City.
The six other remaining Blackhawks who played in that game will have their own tingly feelings on Thursday, too, walking into the place formerly called the Wachovia Center for the first time in almost two years.
The last time the Hawks were in that building, they ended the Flyers' season with a 4-3 OT win on June 9, 2010, and left with Lord Stanley's Cup in their possession.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Toews, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs and hoisted the Cup first after receiving it from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "I can imagine just being at the hotel and being at the rink. All those things will bring back some pretty cool memories. It's been a long time, but just being back in that locker room … we'll have some old stories we can tell. I'm sure the new guys, the guys that weren't there … I'm sure they're sick enough of hearing about all that stuff. They'll just have a couple more days of it, I guess."
The memories are sure to come rushing back for the Hawks who were there in 2010, especially during the morning skate and prior to taking the ice for the game. Even Hawks coach Joel Quenneville and assistant coach Mike Haviland will have some warm, fuzzy memories to share.
"Great moment, yeah," said Quenneville, who walked around the ice during the celebration with a big victory cigar in his mouth. "Whoa, what a moment. What a cigar."
What kind of cigar?
"Can't say," he said, walking away with a wide smile. "Contraband."
Toews also had a smile on his face when asked about going back to Philly for the first time. Turns out he purchased replays of Game 5 and Game 6 of that series on iTunes and had a group of current Hawks watching it with him during a flight this season.
"There were a bunch of guys huddled around the seat watching on the plane, and even watching those last two games … you know the outcome ultimately, but it still makes you nervous to watch it a little bit," the 23-year old Hawks captain said. "A lot of those cool feelings come rushing back and everything from the celebration on the ice and everything in the locker room, too. It'd be cool to think about that again."
One such memory might be taking the Cup from Bettman and hoisting it first along with a giddy yell that people around Chicago can probably still hear when they think about that night.
"That's an honor right there and a privilege," Toews said. "Not too many people get to do that. I had a solid five seconds with it before I handed it off to Hoss [Marian Hossa], but it was a good five seconds and I made sure I had a little skate with it later on after the boys passed it around. But to be the first to hoist it was pretty awesome."
Being the guy who scored the game-winning goal was equally amazing for Kane -- who was one of the only people in the building who knew the puck went through the pads of goalie Michael Leighton and lodged into the back right corner's padding.
He raced down the ice, throwing off his gloves and shaking his fists in the air with a huge smile on his face while fans and players from both teams wondered what he was doing. Kane would later celebrate by hoisting the Cup during a memorable victory parade down Michigan Ave. in Chicago and taking it to both Niagara Falls and a Jimmy Buffet concert.
Going back to the building where he first held that cherished trophy can't help but be a special time for him. Finding the exact spot where he shot that puck from is probably on the list of things to do.
"I might do that," Kane said. "I might kind of check that out a little bit and see the exact spot where I shot from and different things. It was a fun moment and something you'll never forget. It's hard to forget something like that. It's something that goes down in history and something you can never take away from someone, so I'll definitely enjoy it."
Still, the Hawks are coming off a troubling 4-3 loss at home to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night and don't want to get too caught up in the past. They know the Flyers are coming off their own disappointment -- losing to the rival New York Rangers in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park -- and they'll probably want to take it out on the next team they see.
The fact that next team is the one that ended their season in heartbreak two seasons ago is even better -- especially with this being Chicago's first trip back to Philly since that series.
"I'd say probably say the celebration after (Game 6) would probably be the most memorable thing, but at the same time that's not something we're thinking about now -- going into Philly thinking about the Stanley Cup and how we won it there," Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "We're going in knowing that we've got a big game against a good team, and they have a lot of great players and skilled players that are going to be a tough team to face."
Hossa had similar sentiments.
"You're never going to forget about that day, that game," he said of Game 6 in 2010. "You'll always have good memories coming to Philly since that day. Coming there after winning the Cup is going to be something special, but when the puck drops it's going to be just another game."
Author: Brian Hedger | NHL.com Correspondent