In the end, it was a suspension of disbelief. There was no red light behind the goal, no signal from the closest referee. Blackhawk teammates jumped over the bench and jumped back in uncertainty. Their Flyer foes were jousting for position as if the play was still alive.
After 49 years, could this really have been the goal that ended the wait for a Stanley Cup in Chicago? Did anyone know for sure?
"I might have been the only one,"
Kane's seeing-eye shot that very few people saw finished off the gritty Flyers, 4-3
As their minuscule hopes rode on a reversal that would never come, the Flyers watched the 'Hawks jump on top of each other in two separate piles. The celebration couldn't wait.
"I didn't see it go in," said
The play called to mind the goal/non-goal/goal that
Now the Blackhawks can go home and wait for a parade, having put away the Predators, Canucks, Sharks and, finally, the Flyers in six very competitive games. "It's great, so great. I don't have to dream anymore," said Hawks defenseman
As the teams finally made their way to center ice for the ceremonial handshake, there was an especially heartfelt hug between
"I told him to keep his head up," Toews said of their brief exchange. "He's an incredible guy and an incredible leader. I have a lot of respect for him and what his guys accomplished."
The Flyers accomplished a great deal just to get to this point, including several come-from behind wins during the playoffs -- most notably in their Game 7 vs. Boston that capped a return from a three-games-to-none deficit -- a 9-2 record at home, and another timely rally to force overtime on Wednesday.
With Chicago ahead 3-2 and playing a fairly conservative trap with little forecheck, Flyers forward
It was a last-gasp chapter in the Flyers' storybook season that included a shootout win on the final day just to reach the playoffs. "When you go through something together as a group," said Flyers coach
Still, they couldn't match the young guns on the 'Hawks: Kane, who added an assist, and Toews, who set up
"The pressure on those two kids was unbelievable," said
Give Toews credit for another veteran move that actually took place during the postgame celebration. As he held the Stanley Cup aloft and skated with it briefly, he searched for one particular teammate. Granted there isn't a strict order of who should touch the Cup before whom, but the second man to touch it, the one who gets it from the captain, has usually won the vice-touching honor by paying his dues in some way. So Toews did well to hand the chalice to
"I was so happy to get my hands on it at last," Hossa said after game as he stood at center ice. "To come so, so, so close, like you know you have it and then you don't, it would have been too much three years in a row. You never know if you get too many chances."
In one respect, this 'Hawks team resembles the squad that won Chicago's last Cup in Detroit in 1961. That team featured two young stars: sniper
But the 'Hawks and Flyers were both riding slumps of five straight Cup appearances with out a title. Now the Flyers, who last won in 1975, will wait another season. With his assistant coaches rumored to be candidates for other head coaching vacancies next season and the difficulty in keeping a team together in the age of a salary cap, 'Hawks coach
"We're going to enjoy this," he said. "The party in Chicago's going to be all world. I think we should enjoy it for a while."