The Chicago Blackhawks are the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions. It was such an incredible season from start to finish. Who knew back in December when the lockout had such an ominous look that we would be celebrating the Blackhawks’ second Stanley Cup in four years?
The Blackhawks had the potential from game one this season. It all starts with the amazing core that helped them win the first cup in 2010. And, of course, the brilliant play from both goaltenders, Corey Crawford and Ray Emery.
Not nearly enough has been said about Emery this season. Despite not getting a single minute of playing time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Emery was extremely important to this championship run. He has been very supportive of Crawford all season long and has helped the young net minder grow into what should have been a Conn Smythe trophy-winning effort.
We all know Patrick Kane was awarded the Conn Smythe after Game 6, but it should have been Crawford hoisting that trophy. Crawford seemed indifferent as he has all season when not getting the respect he deserved. All he cared about was the big trophy, the Stanley Cup.
Crawford proved the doubters wrong this season and has showed the critics that he can be the all-star goalie the Blackhawks drafted him to be nearly 10 years ago. It took time, but look at the outcome and the huge reward Blackhawks management has received for being as patient as they were.
Management deserves more credit for this championship and the championships to come after this. This team is set up to compete for the Stanley Cup for at least the next five seasons. With the outstanding core of Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford, the Blackhawks easily have the most talent in the NHL.
Let’s not forget that players like Bradnon Saad, Nick Leddy and Andrew Shaw are still very young and will only get better from here on out. On top of all these players (and yes, I know I have left out key players like Dave Bolland and Brent Seabrook) the Blackhawks have a stockpile of talent in the AHL.
When the Blackhawks cut ties with either Bryan Bickell or Viktor Stalberg this season, it won’t be as big of a blow to the chest as it was in 2010 when the Hawks had to cut ties with so many key players from that championship team. With guys like Brandon Piri and Jeremy Morin ready to contribute, life without either Bickell or Stalberg won’t be as bad as many think.
This team, as crazy as it sounds, only stands to get better and has put themselves in position to compete for the cup year in and year out. This team has a chance to be the first team to win consecutive Stanley Cups since the Detroit Red Wings and has a chance to be the first win multiple Stanley Cups in a decade since the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980′s. That Oilers team is not only one of the great dynasties in hockey, but in all of sports. The Blackhawks have the talented core players and role players to get it done.
This is only the beginning, Blackhawks fans. It’s been nearly two decades since we’ve had a dynasty in Chicago with the Bulls. Now we get to experience something similar with this very special group of hockey players. Let’s make sure we enjoy this while we can, because it will be over in the blink of an eye.
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