The drought is finally over -- and Chicago hasn't stopped basking in the torrent of victory since the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 49 years.
Chicago held the celebratory parade June 11 and an estimated 2 million fans, decked out in all manner of Blackhawks gear, cheered their team through the city's streets, crowding street corners, hanging from light posts and showering confetti on the victorious Blackhawks.
"I love my Blackhawks," Hawks fan Andy Dwyer said as he stood with a Blackhawks flag draped around his shoulders as a cape. "There are no words to express the joy and the excitement that the Hawks have brought the Stanley Cup back to Chicago."
Blackhawks Cup parade (Courtesy: Brian Hedger)
"I don't think the corner of Michigan and Wacker has ever looked so good,” said former Blackhawk Ed Olczyk, now a team broadcaster.
Defensemen Duncan Keith, now best known for his toothless smile thanks to taking a puck in the face earlier in the playoffs, couldn't suppress another broad grin when he asked the crowd; "Anybody know a good dent-ithst?”
Then Patrick Sharp tugged at the hearts of the city's female population when he held up his cell phone and offered up Patrick Kane's cell phone number.
The ticker-tape parade was just in time for the start of the interleague matchup between the Cubs and White Sox at Wrigley Field, site of the 2008 Winter Classic, where the Cup was a special guest. Stanley sparked some great play on the diamond too, as both Gavin Floyd of the White Sox and the Cubs' Ted Lilly carried no hit bids into the eighth and ninth innings respectively. The bids failed, but the Cubs won 1-0.
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At the pregame ceremony at Wrigley, Hawks players passed the cup among themselves and high-fived fans as they walked around and took in the excitement. The fans cheered loudly when Hawks coach Joel Quenneville raised the Cup behind home plate, and in true Cubs fashion, booed when he passed the Cup to Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
Chicago, of course, is no stranger to championship celebrations. The NFL's Bears won the 1986 Super Bowl. Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles, and the White Sox won baseball's World Series in 2005. Still none of those titles roused the city the way the Blackhawks' has.
Game 6 of the Final generated the highest overnight TV ratings in 36 years for a Stanley Cup Final game. When the game headed to overtime, the ratings peaked for the final 15 minutes of the game (11 – 11:15 p.m.). The ratings jumped 41 percent from last year's Game 6 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings.
The Blackhawks had the highest average attendance in the NHL in 2009-10 with 21,356 fans per game. Game 5 marked the 102nd consecutive home sellout at the United Center.
"We've been very, very fortunate ... everyone says they have the world's greatest fans, but the fans in Chicago have embraced this team," Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz told NHL.com.