Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2010, 36

"Cup Keepers", (L-R) Howie Borrow, Walt Neubrand, Mike Bolt and Phil Pritchard were honoured by the Chicago Blackhawks prior to their home opener. (Dave Leyden)
Saturday, October 9, 2010 was a day Chicago had anticipated for four months. It was the home opener at the United Center, and the raising of the Stanley Cup banner for the reigning champions.

The Blackhawks' chairman, Rocky Wirtz, addressed a capacity crowd of 22,161, thanking the players and staff who contributed so significantly to the Stanley Cup win, the fourth in franchise history. He then drew an even more cacophonous cheer by thanking the "greatest fans of any franchise on earth!"

The crowd was instructed to look at the Zamboni entrance, where captain Jonathan Toews was given a hero's welcome as he carried the gleaming Stanley Cup, hoisting it above his head as he skated to centre ice and placed the trophy on a table. The Stanley Cup glistened with an explosion of flashbulbs from all the cameras in the house.

"Cup Keepers", (L-R) Howie Borrow, Walt Neubrand, Mike Bolt and Phil Pritchard were honoured by the Chicago Blackhawks prior to their home opener. (Dave Leyden)
Again, fans were directed to the Zamboni entrance where they were introduced to five members of Chicago's last Stanley Cup championship team. From the 1961 squad, the crowd roared as they welcomed Eric Nesterenko, Ab McDonald, Pierre Pilote, Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull (who sported the #16 he wore at that time, rather than his more-familiar #9).

The five began to unfurl the massive banner that would soon take its rightful place in the rafters of the United Center. To assist, in a symbolic passing of the torch, were the twelve members of the current Hawks' team that were part of the 2010 championship — Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland, Nick Boynton, Troy Brouwer, Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Tomas Kopecky, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews. The new champions assisted the older champions to fully reveal the banner, which was then skated the length of the ice.

Fans at the United Center in Chicago awaiting the arrival of team captain Jonathan Toews and the Stanley Cup. (Phil Pritchard/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The Stanley Cup was lifted by Walt Neubrand and Mike Bolt, two of the four Keepers of the Cup on hand that evening, and carried meticulously to a table directly below where the banner was being raised.

The thunderous ovation was deafening as the championship banner was slowly raised to the roof, with all eyes on the white banner with the Hawks' logo and the words: Chicago Blackhawks, Stanley Cup Champions, 2010.

The half-hour ceremony was outstanding, and reconfirmed why Chicago is not only a great hockey city but a terrific city of champions.

The Chicago Blackhawks unveil their 2010 Stanley Cup Champions banner.
(Phil Pritchard/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The game that followed featured the Hawks hosting the Detroit Red Wings, no strangers to championship banners themselves. The Wings edged Chicago 3-2, but the loss only modestly shadowed a sensational and memorable evening for the franchise and its rabid fans.

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And so concludes another summer of the Hockey Hall of Fame following the championship movement of the Stanley Cup through its summer being accompanied by the reigning Stanley Cup champions. Join us again next June, when the Stanley Cup Journal follows the 2011 Stanley Cup champion. Will Chicago repeat or will a new champion emerge? We'll have to wait through 82 regular season games and the playoffs for the world's greatest reality show to reveal the winner!

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Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.



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