Many Chicago Blackhawks players celebrated with their young children. Around the ice there was Duncan Keith's two-year-old son, Bryan Bickell's 10-month-old daughter, Brad Richards's eight-month-old son, Andrew Desjardins' six-month-old son and Kris Versteeg's newborn son.
The scene underscored to team president John McDonough just how much time had passed since the Blackhawks' first Cup in 2010.
"To see these guys mature into young adults, into grown men ... most of our guys when I started here were single," McDonough said. "Now there's babies all over the place."
When Chicago won five years ago, the team was full of babies — at least in NHL terms. Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Toews and defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson had just turned 22, Patrick Kane was 21, Bickell 23 and Brent Seabrook 24.
Keith's son was born just before he won the Cup in 2013 and Versteeg's before this Cup final. The Blackhawks have grown up and keep winning.
"It doesn't feel like a long time but it's been a long time," Toews said. "A lot of things change.
"But we still got an amazing group of guys and the desire to get back here. That's the one thing that's stayed consistent."
Another consistent is coach Joel Quenneville, but he credits players for maturing along the way. He has watched them grow up as hockey players and people
"The core that's been here since 2010, they lead the charge game-in, game-out, preparation-wise, focus, attention to detail, play the right way, send the right message," Quenneville said. "It's a fun group to work with."
It starts with Toews, a young captain when this all started and now one who may be the NHL's gold standard in that category.
"He's a special player to learn from," forward Brandon Saad said. "I know me personally, that's who I looked up to. I'm sure those young guys are doing the same."
Saad and rookie Teuvo Teravainen are among the young guys. If the Blackhawks keep up their winning recipe, they'll one day take photos of their babies in the Stanley Cup.
It's all part of the Blackhawks' cycle of championships.
"It's gratifying in so many ways, both personally and professionally," McDonough said. "We've had to fight through some things, but it's been worth every second of it."Suggest a correction