On a team consisting of several star players, it was the Stanley Cup that was the guest of honor when the Chicago Blackhawks opened their annual team convention Friday at the Hilton Chicago. The Cup was brought out at the three-day convention's opening ceremony, when it received thunderous applause from attendees.
From there, Blackhawks national anthem singer Jim Cornelison performed another thunderous rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" as team officials and military veterans looked on. And with that, the sixth annual Blackhawks convention was underway, this time with a very special guest who had been noticeably absent the previous two years.
Former Blackhawks player and current TV commentator Ed Olczyk introduced the 2013 Stanley Cup champions, starting with the team's front office, including general manager Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks' broadcast team.
A number of former Blackhawks players were then introduced, including Bobby Hull, Denis Savard, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito, Murray Bannerman and Eric Daze. But with the Cup sitting on stage overseeing the event, the biggest roars were reserved for the team's current players, particularly captain Jonathan Toews.
"It's been six years we've been coming to this convention. I think this is the best turnout yet," Toews told the crowd. "You guys are the best fans in the world. This is the best group of guys. We're looking forward to sharing the Stanley Cup one more time."
It was the perfect kickoff to a weekend's worth of activities, including autograph and photo sessions, seminars, interactive games, and memorabilia vendors. But plenty of fans likely will be in attendance looking to catch a glimpse of the most famous trophy in sports.