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For Blackhawks, there are no words

by Phil Coffey
PHILADELPHIA -- In the NHL commercial spot "No Words," the age-old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words couldn't be more beautifully told or relevant to what took place on the ice at the Wachovia  Center Wednesday night.

Winning the Stanley Cup is a visceral experience, a tactile moment often accompanied by a primal howl and unstoppable stream of tears.

"Oh my God, it's like that commercial," Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Toews said. "I'm speechless. This team put on one heck of a run. We knew from Day 1 of this season we had the potential to do it. And to realize our goal, it's an amazing feeling.

"There's so many great things about winning a Stanley Cup," Toews said. "This is it. This is the best feeling you can ever get playing hockey, and I just can't believe it's happening."

"What a feeling," Patrick Kane said. "I can't believe it. It's unbelievable. We just won the Stanley Cup."

After a Stanley Cup is won, the most difficult task falls to the writers and reporters on hand to chronicle the event because there really are no words to describe the emotions the players, coaches, trainers and other members of the winning team are experiencing. The same applies to the team that has come up short. The utter disappointment of coming away without the Stanley Cup is crushing and disappointing beyond belief and the reaction of winners and losers sometimes mirror one another, albeit for vastly different reasons.

In the days and weeks to come, the Blackhawks will be in a better position to frame their words once the enormity of their accomplishment sinks in. The 2010 players ended the longest championship drought in the NHL, one that extended back to 1961, but chances are that's not going through their minds now. They have had their own personal droughts to consider first.

Consider that of the winning Chicago roster, only three players have won a Cup previously, John Madden won two with New Jersey, Andrew Ladd one with Carolina and Tomas Kopecky one with the Red Wings.

"For me, it was no better feeling in hockey. That's for sure," Madden said. "The look on your teammates' faces when you've all come together and accomplished your goals. There have been some trials and tribulations, so to speak. You've been able to overcome a lot.  It's a real nice feeling to have."

But what kind of feeling? Can't describe it.

"It's what we play the game for," Ladd said. "The group that we have and the players we have in the room and persons it just makes the whole ride fun. It's really been fun the whole way.  If you can cap it off at the end by winning, it's just a special feeling you can't really describe."

OK, perhaps Kopecky can shed some light.

"Obviously, it's a thrill.  That's why you play hockey growing up, to win the Stanley Cup," Kopecky said. "When I was with Detroit, the memories that stay with you for the rest of your life. That feeling, it's unbelievable."

And indescribable.

So for the Blackhawks' core players -- Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Antti Niemi, Dustin Byfuglien, Brian Campbell and Marian Hossa -- Wednesday night's win is a moment that will be savored forever. Especially by Hossa, who has been Don Quixote-like in search of the Stanley Cup, going from Atlanta to Pittsburgh to Detroit and finally to Chicago to complete his quest.

And for Hawks' defenseman Brent Sopel, the win might be the sweetest of all. Each year there seems to be one longtime veteran who get the opportunity to carry the Stanley Cup around for the first time in his career. That's Sopel, who at age 33 has been around the NHL since the 1998-99 season as a journeyman defenseman, playing for the Canucks, the Kings, the Islanders and now the Blackhawks.

Now, Sopel joins the ranks of Ray Bourque, Dave Andreychuk, Doug Weight and Dallas Drake on the list of veterans to finally see their dream come true.

And that sense of the visceral also extends beyond the players. Joel Quenneville won the Cup as an assistant coach with the Avalanche in 2001, but for his assistants, Mike Haviland, John Torchetti and Stephane Waite, the thrill will last forever.

For the Blackhawks' front office, this is a Stanley Cup like no other, except for perhaps Scotty Bowman who has made it a ridiculous habit at winning this trophy. But for GM Stan Bowman, Scotty's son, Blackhawks President John McDonough and Chairman Rocky Wirtz, this Stanley Cup is the culmination of a dream that many thought in Chicago was downright impossible.

A new era dawned for the Blackhawks when Rocky Wirtz succeeded his late father Bill, and his hiring of McDonough ushered in an atmosphere of "can-do" spirit that infected not only the organization, but the players and the entire city of Chicago.

So words aren't really necessary for them right now. It's hockey heaven for the Blackhawks who will revel in the moment for as long as humanly possible.  

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