PHILADELPHIA – In a city where the Stanley Cup drought is 49 years and ticking, the temptation is to say it’s OK to win the silver trophy at home.
Win it in front of the rowdy Chicago fans. Win it with “Chelsea Dagger” roaring through the stadium in an endless loop. Win it and keep partying right into the parade past City Hall.
It’s tempting, for sure.
It’s just not necessarily ideal.
The Blackhawks want to win the Stanley Cup, period.
“We want it more than anything,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said Tuesday. “Whether it’s on the road or at home, to us it doesn’t matter.”
The Blackhawks would love to leave Philadelphia with a new carry-on for the plane. Beat the Flyers in Game 6 tonight, and they’ll win their first championship since the days of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita in 1961.
The 49 years without a title is the longest active streak in the NHL.
Toews and his teammates know the Stanley Cup will be the guest of honor at Game 6 in Philadelphia. No celebrity, no dignitary will mean more than the nearly 3 feet and 35 pounds of one of sports’ great trophies, and only 60 victorious minutes would turn it into the world’s largest champagne flute.
“The more time you spend away from the rink, the easier it is to think about how close you are to winning the Cup,” Toews said.
Holding the Stanley Cup high is the dream of every hockey player. It could come true faster than most for the 22-year-old Toews, already the star and captain in just his third NHL season.
Toews, who leads the Blackhawks with 28 points this postseason, drew inspiration from Pittsburgh’s championship run last season. He saw Sidney Crosby, then only 21, hoist the trophy as the youngest captain to win the Stanley Cup.
Toews can’t beat Crosby in the age category. But he could join Crosby and have his name etched on hockey’s ultimate prize.
“I think that’s when it really first set in that I felt our team, and myself personally, never felt closer thinking that this is an opportunity – this is something that can really become a reality,” Toews said. “I think we all knew all along that we can make it this far.”
Ah, yes. That Detroit-Pittsburgh final. Turns out, a year later it’s just as inspirational to the Flyers as it’s been to Toews.
In that series, the Penguins lost the first two games on the road, were pounded in Game 5, and trailed 3-2 in the series before storming back to win the championship.
Yo, Philly! Sound familiar?