Staying the course sets Hawks on path to Cup

It's the kind of thing Hawks fans had a hard time imagining when the Red Wings led their series 3-1. On the day before Game 5, the Hawks held a team meeting that would serve as the most pivotal of the postseason. Players and coaches reminded each other of the 3-0 hole they dug for themselves against the Canucks in 2010 before winning three straight. Remembering that experience buoyed spirits that had begun to sink and rebuilt confidence that had started to wane.

The Hawks responded to the words with action, winning three straight.

"We had a discussion with the whole group after Game 4, and I thought our belief was in the right place,'' Quenneville said. "Everything that happened this season just shows the character of the guys.''

It showed that the Hawks really can win a Cup with Crawford in goal and that Kane truly has matured. It showed that Marian Hossa, who played through a serious back injury, deserved the benefit of the doubt and that Duncan Keith earned back the respect he lost after two subpar seasons. It showed that Patrick Sharp is underrated and that Shaw isn't overwhelmed. It showed that Brandon Saad looks like a future star and that the Hawks penalty-killers need a vacation.

It showed that Quenneville is as good as they come among NHL coaches.

It showed what happens when an organization sticks to the plan it devises.

"Stan did a great job of retooling (the team) in different ways,'' Quenneville said. "It was one of those seasons, a fairy-tale ending. Amazing season.''

Finally relaxed, Quenneville was asked if he got as much of a kick out of being called "the best team in the world'' as he did in 2010.

"That sounds pretty cool,'' Quenneville said.

The most famous mustache in Chicago curled slightly as Quenneville cracked a smile that isn't going away anytime soon.

dhaugh@tribune.com

Twitter @DavidHaugh

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