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Blackhawks fans, Corey Crawford go ‘nuts’ at rally

Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford minces no words as he addresses massive crowd Friday HutchinsField. | JessicKoscielniak~Sun-Times

Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford minces no words as he addresses the massive crowd Friday at Hutchinson Field. | Jessica Koscielniak~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 30, 2013 8:47AM



Corey Crawford ambled to the front of the stage and surveyed the thousands upon thousands who packed 12 softball diamonds worth of Hutchinson Field and then some. The quiet, unassuming Crawford smiled broadly, clutching the championship belt playoff MVP Patrick Kane had just handed him for being ‘‘the best player in the playoffs.’’

After a year of clichés and coachspeak, and a rally full of well-meaning but uninspiring platitudes, Crawford leaned into the microphone and finally said what everyone else in the city was thinking.

‘‘[Expletive] right, Chicago!’’ he bellowed. ‘‘Woo! Biggest bunch of beauties in the league, [expletive] worked their nuts off for this trophy! Woo! No one will ever take this away from us! We’re the champs!’’

Ah, yes. Raspy voices, slurred speech and a few F-bombs for good measure. Truly a hockey celebration.

Four days of lugging the Stanley Cup from bar to bar around Chicago culminated in a summer bash at Grant Park on Friday. First came a parade that choked downtown streets. Then came a raucous rally on the same field on which Barack Obama gave his 2008 election night speech.

Hawks fans lined Adams Street behind the United Center six or seven deep hours before the parade even began, then greeted the double-decker buses topped with the Hawks and their families along Washington Street, dozens deep at some points. Fans waved Swedish flags, Canadian flags, American flags and Chicago flags. They sat on each other’s shoulders and screamed through the whole parade as if it were a Jim Cornelison national anthem.

Once the procession made it to the waiting throngs at Grant Park, Cornelison kicked off the party with a rousing anthem and emcee Pat Foley introduced the front office, the coaching staff, and finally the players. Former Hawks icons Pierre Pilote, Tony Esposito, Denis Savard and Bobby Hull were on the stage, too.

The fans watched highlight videos of the playoffs — cheering loudest for the clips of Crawford’s headlock on the Kings’ Kyle Clifford after Clifford went after Jonathan Toews in the Western Conference final, and, of course, for Dave Bolland’s Cup-clinching goal in Game  6 against the Boston Bruins.

They sang ‘‘Happy Birthday’’ to general manager Stan Bowman, who turned 40 on Friday, chanted ‘‘De-Troit Sucks!’’ one more time for good measure and booed Gov. Pat Quinn, who proclaimed it ‘‘Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks Day.’’

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville toted the President’s Trophy up to the stage and told the crowd, ‘‘We’re all very fortunate to play in a place as special as Chicago.’’

Toews spoke last — his voice hoarse from the weeklong party — but kept it short and sweet, simply thanking the fans for outdoing themselves since 2010.

‘‘Tough to follow that speech by Corey Crawford,’’ he said.

Television analyst Eddie Olczyk drew a big cheer when he said the Hawks were now ‘‘at the top of the sports totem pole here in Chicago.’’ The Bears might have something to say about that, but after two massive championship celebrations in four seasons, the Hawks — a glorified minor-league team in the eyes of the city for so many years before the 2010 reawakening — have been making quite a case.

‘‘In 2010, you guys waited 49 years to do this,’’ Patrick Sharp told the crowd. ‘‘This year, we waited three. What do you say we get back here and do it again next year?’’



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