The Hawks are set on relishing this run toward the Stanley Cup.
Of course, winning the Cup in 2010 was, in a word, epic for Chicago.
"The last time we won it we had the best summer," captain Jonathan Toews said. "There was so much going on that we were in a way relieved to get away from it and get back to training camp."
That summer, players became sought-after celebrities with fans following them to bars where the team celebrated, snapping photos and tracking the Cup on Twitter. Thousands showed for the Michigan Avenue parade. The Cup embarked on a world tour with players hoisting it in their hometowns.
"In 2010, you're kind of so excited to get there. I think at that time, maybe our team was too young and stupid to even know what's really going on," winger Patrick Kane said. "You just kind of let it fly by without really soaking it in. I think now everyone's kind of soaking it in."
In hindsight, Toews said the players didn't really know how good their team was in 2010.
"We just went out there and we won games and the next thing you know we were winning the Stanley Cup and we just didn't think twice about it," Toews said.
With first-round playoff exits the last couple of years, the Hawks haven't hit the same level of success until now.
"Coming back here we definitely realize how tough it is and how rare this opportunity is because we've worked so hard to get here," he said.
That included some team rebuilding. A number of players were traded after that championship season thanks to the salary cap, but the core of Kane, Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland and Niklas Hjalmarsson remained intact.
"A lot of guys on that team at that time were unknown and then you make a Cup run and you're obviously going to get good contracts and it's going to be tough to keep everyone together," Kane said. "And it seems like it's happening again with this team."
Now this team is up against Boston for the pinnacle in NHL hardware. The same Bruins the Hawks rooted for in 2011 mainly because of their competitive hatred for Vancouver.
But it was tough for the Hawks to watch the Bruins hold the Cup that year because it meant they were no longer defending champs.
"Once you win the Cup, once you feel like it's yours, you don't want to give it up," Toews said.
The Hawks are excited, confident and determined to recapture it.
"To be back is obviously a great honor and you hear people say take advantage of it and you never know when you're going to get back again," Kane said. "So I think that's our mindset going in. We're here. Give it our all and see what happens."
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