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Blackhawks say 2013 title bigger than the one they won in 2010

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

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Updated: July 28, 2013 9:19PM

Maybe it was the shortened season. Maybe it was the NHL-record 24 games without a
defeat in regulation. Maybe it was the 10 extra periods of hold-your-breath playoff hockey. Or maybe it was the two goals in 17 seconds late in Game 6 against the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup.

Whatever the reason, a month after bringing home the Cup, Blackhawks players agree this championship feels bigger than the one in 2010.

‘‘It’s a lot bigger than it was in 2010,’’ Conn Smythe Trophy winner Patrick Kane said Friday at the Blackhawks Convention at the Hilton Chicago. ‘‘You could probably see that from the amount of people that are here and the amount of people that have become Blackhawks fans in the past few years.’’

Euphoric fans began lining up at 11 a.m. to get prime spots for the opening ceremonies Friday. When ‘‘Chelsea Dagger’’ blared through the speakers to begin the ceremonies, the floor of the ballroom shook underneath the weight of several thousand fans.

‘‘There’s a level of attention and energy that we didn’t
expect in 2010,’’ captain Jonathan Toews said. ‘‘And this year, it’s to a whole other level. . . . There are a lot of people maybe that weren’t hockey fans before that are now.’’

There might be more Hawks fans now than ever, but it wasn’t always this way. Before the team led the league in attendance and filled the United Center for 227 consecutive sellouts, defense-
man Duncan Keith said he
remembers playing before crowds that put the Hawks 29th in the league in attendance in his rookie season (2005-06).

Keith has spent his entire NHL career with the Hawks. In his rookie season, the Hawks posted a 26-43-13 record and finished next-to-last in the Central. They failed to make the playoffs in his first three seasons.

‘‘We always kind of reminisce about the old days,’’ Keith said. ‘‘It was just so different. It’s crazy to think how things have changed over the years.’’

Keith said the memories of the losing seasons and empty seats serve as motivation.

‘‘You just appreciate playing with this team and this organization,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s not to say that even before we didn’t, but you look around the league and you talk to other guys, you get a sense that you know for sure that this is one of the best
organizations. In our minds, the best.’’

Joel Quenneville, the first coach in franchise history to win two Stanley Cups, echoed his players’ opinions about the title celebration this year.

‘‘The excitement from when we won this Cup has taken it to a different level,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘I thought that when we won in 2010, it was euphoria and it was crazy. I think even more over the last three years it has gotten to a new level.’’

Quenneville said he was
impressed by the support from fans throughout the playoff run, even when the Hawks were on the road.

‘‘[People were] talking about how they couldn’t sleep after the games because they were so amazing to watch,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘I think everybody had a soft spot for how good the hockey was, as well.’’

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