This essay is excerpted from the bestselling book One Goal Achieved: The Inside Story of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. To get your digital copy of the book, click here.
On the brink of a Stanley Cup title for the first time in 49 years, much of the Blackhawks front office made the trip to Philadelphia on June 9, 2010, for what was to be an epic Game 6 victory while some stayed back in Chicago, hoping to celebrate with hockey’s greatest fans. These are their stories of that fateful night:
STAN BOWMAN: VICE PRESIDENT / GENERAL MANAGER
We were crowded into a small room in the press box. It was myself, Chevy (Kevin Cheveldayoff), Marc Bergevin, Mark Kelley and Steph Waite. We all stood up and just looked at each other because nothing was happening except Kane was skating down the ice. I remember pointing to the net and saying, “I think that puck went in”; the goalie wasn’t reacting like he had it. But we waited and waited and waited, and then we all just hugged each other and made the mad dash to get down to the ice. From that point on it was just euphoria.
ADAM KEMPENAAR: DIRECTOR, NEW MEDIA AND CREATIVE SERVICES
I didn’t realize how superstitious I was until Game 6. When the Flyers scored two in a row to take a 2-1 lead in the middle frame, I bolted out of the press box for the media room downstairs to try to swing the momentum. I found the exact same chair I’d sat in and exact same TV I’d watched during the third period of Game 4 when the Blackhawks reduced a three-goal deficit to one and almost stole the game. Just a few minutes after taking my lucky seat, Patrick Sharp
evened the score. Then Andrew Ladd gave the Hawks a 3-2 lead at 17:43. It was working!
With about five minutes to play — the Blackhawks clinging to that one-goal lead — two Wachovia Center employees decided to stand right next to me and root for the Flyers. Sure enough, Scott Hartnell tied it up to force overtime. I vowed that if they were still standing there at the start of OT, I’d retreat to another spot rather than let them ruin whatever mystical boost I believed I was giving the Blackhawks. They left during the intermission, but as soon as the puck dropped, they returned and resumed cheering. I couldn’t take it. I started roaming the basement, looking for another location to enjoy the action, and found my way into the empty post-game interview room. The TV didn’t have any sound, but it was only about a minute later that Patrick Kane
’s actions would say it all. When he flung his gloves off and sped down the ice to celebrate, I just remember turning and running down the hallway as fast I could, heart pounding, in search of a friendly face to confirm that it was true. At one point I slipped and almost took a nosedive into the cement. It would have been worth it. The Blackhawks were the Stanley Cup champs!
ANNIE CAMINS: DIRECTOR, YOUTH HOCKEY
I was at the Blackhawks road watch party at Joe’s Bar on Weed Street with a bunch of fans and basically all of the staff who didn’t travel to Philly. There had to be about 500 of us. We pulled out the champagne during overtime. We were just waiting for it. It was pretty presumptuous, I guess. I was with two of my friends about five feet from the TV; we were just kind of holding hands. I saw the goal go in though, so I jumped up and yelled, “They scored! They scored!” We were all cheering in the bar; nobody really knew there was any question about it. We saw Kane celebrating and knew it went in. We kind of glanced back at the TV, but nobody really cared at that point. We were crazy celebrating. The music and cheering were so loud, and champagne was spraying everywhere.TONY OMMEN: SENIOR DIRECTOR, TEAM SERVICES
I was in the coaches office watching the TV feed with a couple coaches and staff members. When Kane scored we were all kind of excited but also stunned because we weren’t 100 percent sure it went it. We all raced to the bench immediately, but we couldn’t get to it because of the security. Brad Aldrich (video coach) turned around and ran back into the locker room; he saw the replay, and then ran right back out. We fought our way to the bench, and he was yelling at Joel, “It’s in! It’s in!” And that’s when they all went nuts. We all just jumped on the bench, and by that time Kaner was down on top of Niemi, and everyone was piling on him. It was pure shock more than anything, just amazement that we accomplished that. You work hard every day to build up to that moment, and then for it to happen, it almost was surreal. It didn’t quite feel like it was actually happening.MATT DOMINICK: PRODUCER, NEW MEDIA
With about 10 minutes left in the third period, every photographer and video guy was packed in the Zamboni entrance, ready to go out onto the ice if the series ended. They brought out the Stanley Cup and set it on top of the case. It seemed like the second they put it down, Philly tied it up, and the Cup was put back in and wheeled away. We were all stuck in the tunnel during the break, which was awful.
When Kane scored, I had no idea what was going on because there was a little bit of a delay. There wasn’t a reaction from Philly, and nobody was really cheering, so I thought the game was still going on. Commissioner Bettman was standing right next to me, watching the same TV screen. They showed the replay, and it was definitely a goal. Everyone just started yelling, “Go! Get out on the ice!”
MARIE SUTERA: SENIOR DIRECTOR, HUMAN RESOURCES
The team chartered in the players’ families, and we rented out three or four suites. When we won the families were a little confused, just like everyone else. We watched the replay and some of the kids really picked up on it first, “Oh my God, we won.” Then it was just complete commotion. We had an escort to get us down to the ice level. Standing in line with the families, they just couldn’t wait to get out there.
The plane trip back to Chicago was crazy too. Most of the families passed out from complete exhaustion, but I was wide awake. When we landed the pilot said, “I’ve just heard that the plane with the players is about five minutes behind us. Do you want to wait to let them get off first?” We all said yes, and our plane taxied to the side. Then the players landed. I remember Brent Sopel tracking down our plane and waiting for his wife and kids to come down. It was really sweet.
JAY BLUNK: EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
The transition from the locker room to the team bus and the charter was seamless. With each passing minute the feeling of disbelief began to dissolve into reality. The Blackhawks had won the Stanley Cup. As we boarded the aircraft, I could see the glint of the Cup toward the back, confirming that I wasn’t dreaming. I would steal a glimpse of it throughout the flight, reassuring me this was no fire drill — the Cup was ours. Music, cocktails and lively conversation were in abundance, focusing primarily on the details of the last few minutes of Game 6 which would bond everyone on that plane forever.
Eventually some on the flight dozed, losing the battle with the fatigue that comes with the highs and lows of a championship series. I chose to savor every second, knowing the rarity of the event. I secretly hoped we would never land, that we might carry on the celebration forever. But as the landing gear rumbled into position, I took one more look out the window at the Chicago skyline, the sun perilously close to turning the evening into morning. The plane came to a stop, and Joel barked an order for “Jonny” to carry the Cup off first. The players marched off behind their captain, disappearing into a sea of flashing blue and red lights from an army of emergency vehicles stationed to greet us. I catalogued as many memories as I could, hoping to recreate for my children that magical experience of flying home with the Stanley Cup.