Top 13 of 2013: Blackhawks' 17 seconds to the Stanley Cup

Top 13 of 2013: Blackhawks' 17 seconds to the Stanley Cup
December 31, 2013, 10:15 am

CSNChicago.com is taking a look back at what turned out to be a memorable year in the Windy City, by counting down the 13 biggest Chicago sports stories of 2013. Take a look at the bottom of this article to see what other storylines were good enough to make the list.

When you think of the greatest moments in sports, you almost think of them in slow motion. San Francisco 49ers receiver Dwight Clark suspended in air as Joe Montana’s pass hits his hands. Slugger Joe Carter jumping up and down as his home run won the Toronto Blue Jays the 1993 World Series.

But for the Chicago Blackhawks, one of their greatest moments – and our top moment of 2013 – seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. Bryan Bickell scores to tie Game 6 against the Boston Bruins, prompting jubilation from the Blackhawks and their fans at TD Garden, and before you knew it Dave Bolland netted the game-winner just 17 seconds later.

Seventeen seconds: in that brief amount of time the Blackhawks went from heading to a Game 7 to winning their second Stanley Cup in the past four seasons. It was a stunning few seconds, one that players may have imagined during their youth pond hockey games but no coach could’ve drawn up on a dry-erase board. And the ending led to a lot of stunned looks that seemed to say the same thing: “Did that just happen?”

But considering how the Blackhawks started their season with an astounding 21-0-3 mark, it was only fitting they end with something equally astounding.

“I honestly don’t know what happened there,” defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said on the ice that night. “I was getting ready for a Game 7, I can tell you that much. I thought it was going to be tough to get one goal. We got two. That was huge.”

Looking back at it now, more than six months after that June evening, it still boggles the mind. There wasn’t a Blackhawks player who wasn’t anticipating a Game 7 with Boston leading late in the third period. The Blackhawks wanted no part of a Game 7 – both teams were suffering their share of injuries by then -- but they figured they’d get it anyway. But they didn’t play that final 1:25, the moment Corey Crawford was pulled from the net, like there would be a Game 7. They wanted this odyssey finished on that sweltering Monday night in Boston, and kept pushing after Bickell’s goal.

Still, scoring two goals in 17 seconds? Marcus Kruger, on the ice for Bolland’s goal, was as stunned as anyone and celebrating with his teammates until the defensemen, he said, came over and told him, “calm down. There’s a minute left.”

Did he calm down?

“I don’t think I did,” Kruger recalled a few days after the Cup victory. “I felt I had to get off the ice because I don’t know what I’m doing out there. We just changed after 20 seconds or something. It all sorted itself out.”

Indeed, it did.

The Blackhawks could still win a few Cups with their core group of players. The word “dynasty” has been bandied about often. Maybe they win a few more. Maybe they don’t. But they’ll always have two in four seasons, marking the first time a team has repeated in the salary-cap era.

And they’ll always have 17 seconds: a bang-bang sequence that Blackhawks fans will likely remember in as slow a motion as possible.

“There was a lot of good from the start to the end, and a lot of good in between,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “There were some great moments, exciting moments, some very surprising moments -- like the ending.”

Top 13 stories of 2013

13. Wins and losses don't define Chris Sale's season 

12. Nate Robinson's late playoff heroics beat Nets 

11. Northern Illinois takes national stage in 2013, the Year of the Huskie

10. Cubs fire Sveum, showing cracks in foundation 

9. The bizarre catfishing of Manti Te'o

8. Cutler, McCown and the Bears' starting QB role

7. Blackhawks' record-breaking start

6. Historically bad season for Cubs and White Sox

5. Notre Dame crushed in BCS Championship Game

4. Bears sever ties with Brian Urlacher         

3. Bears hire Marc Trestman

2. Derrick Rose and the short-lived 'Return'

1. Blackhawks' 17 seconds to the Stanley Cup