Stanley Cup begins its own celebration around Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) This time, the Stanley Cup didn't have to catch a flight before hitting Chicago hot spots for a victory tour.

The Chicago Blackhawks won their third championship in six years on Monday night, but it marked the team's first on home ice since 1938. That allowed players to bring the cup to a nightclub as they painted the town Blackhawks red only hours after parading it victoriously before the United Center crowd after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

The history of the cup includes chapters in which players take it swimming, to restaurants, bars and at least one race track, and Tuesday marked the beginning of a monthslong vacation for a trophy that's handed over to player after player to take it and show it off pretty much wherever they please.

It hasn't always been smooth-sailing: In the 1920s, a team left it by the side of a road after pulling over to deal with car trouble.

Tracking the cup on social media has become something of a post-victory tradition for Blackhawks fans, and it wasn't long after the game that they doing so on Twitter accounts such as (at)WheresTheCup.

Word spread quickly when team owner Rocky Wirtz took the cup to lunch Tuesday at Phil Stefani's 437 Rush, which proudly displayed hockey's championship chalice in the window. It wasn't long before fans were gathering outside to take pictures.

Wirtz did not make the trip to the nightclub, but he wasn't surprised that the cup did.

''I would have put 100 to 1 it would not have gone anywhere else,'' he said. ''I know it wasn't going to the Field Museum.''

On Tuesday night, the Blackhawks brought the cup to Wrigley Field before the Chicago Cubs played the Cleveland Indians.

The next big event for the cup may happen Thursday morning, when it will almost certainly accompany the team on a parade and rally as it did the last two times the Blackhawks won it. The parade will march through the Loop business district, with a rally being held afterward at Soldier Field. The rally will be a free, but ticketed, event.

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